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in the

game

In This Issue:

SouthEAST Georgia

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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS MAGAZINE

®

CONTENTS

March 2014

10 War of the Border Georgia vs. Florida

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13 Academic Athlete Ryan Stewart

Brunswick High School

16 National Signing Day Southeast Area High Schools 21 Player Spotlight Mallori Wickard

Glynn Academy

26 Coach’s Corner Tony Yeomans

A Patient’s Guide to Shoulder Instability Bone & Joint Institute of South Georgia

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Bacon County High School

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Camden County High School

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Bradwell Institute

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Jeff Davis High School

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Long County High School

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Pierce County High School

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Ware County High School

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Wayne County High School

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Listen to John and Shawn Every Thursday night at 6:00 PM on WWUF 97.7 The Wolf

Ware County High School

30 Rising Star Ford Townsend

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Also Inside

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08 Division 1 Signees Southeast Area High Schools

Martha Puckett Middle School

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Catch all the latest action of high school sports!

Read. Subscribe. Share.

www.inthegamemagazine.com


game

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS MAGAZINE

®

SouthEAST Georgia

March 2014

I’m starting to see azaleas and dogwoods bloom all over SEGA, which can only mean one thing: yellow pollen! Well, it also means spring is upon us. Along with spring comes Daylight Saving Time, allowing you and your family the opportunity to stay outdoors longer in the bright sunshine. What better way to enjoy your time than taking on a spring sport. You have your pick of baseball, golf, soccer, tennis, or track, and SEGA is loaded with talent across the board in all five.

Publisher Shawn Smoak

Glynn Academy has been known as a golf powerhouse for years, but this month’s Player Spotlight is doing her best to put volleyball on the map for the Red Terrors. Mallori Wickard helped the Red Terrors sweep the region tournament, going a perfect 18-0, all in the midst of being crowned Glynn Academy’s Homecoming Queen for 2014. I’d say that’s two impressive ways to draw attention to the program.

Editor Mark Dykes Kaitlynn Passmore

Graphics Jennifer Alexander

Cover Photography Jeffrey Griffith

Old Goat Photography

Feature Photography Bo Carter

Bo’s Sport Photography

Jeffrey Griffith

Old Goat Photography

Jennifer Carter Johnson

Jennifer Carter Johnson Photography

John DuPont John Wood Rob Asbell

Copy Editors Crystal Hubbard Ashley Dailey

Advertising/Marketing Shawn Smoak shawn@inthegamemagazine.com

Mark Dykes

mark@inthegamemagazine.com

Website Manager Kaitlynn Passmore

SEGA Prep Sports P.O. Box 2960 • Waycross, GA 31502

For distribution and subscription information contact: info@inthegamemagazine.com For advertising information call: 888-715-4263 Corporate Office: Dykes Publishing Group, Inc. P.O. Box 812 Valdosta, Georgia 31603

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You may remember the name Ryan Stewart. He’s a member of the “All A’s” honor roll at Brunswick High and the captain of the Pirates baseball team. Ryan was also a featured Rising Star his eighth grade year and as predicted has grown into a powerful pitcher and a shortstop with a cannon arm for the Pirates in this, his senior season. His off-the-field success is just as impressive, being named a Georgia Merit Scholar and the Exchange Club Student of the Month. Thanks, Ryan for making us look good here at In the Game on our predictions. There’s an old saying “you can take the catcher out of baseball, but you’ll never take the baseball out of the catcher.” Case in point is Ware County Gators head baseball coach Tony Yeomans. An ex-catcher and a member of two Halls of Fame, Yeomans’s baseball knowledge is second to none, and he has his senior-laden team ready to compete for a region championship and beyond.

Appling County Pirates Bacon County Red Raiders Bradwell Institute Tigers Brantley County Herons Brunswick Pirates Camden County Wildcats Charlton County Indians Frederica Academy Knights Glynn Academy Red Terrors Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets Liberty County Panthers Long County Blue Tide McIntosh County Buccaneers Pierce County Bears Ware County Gators Wayne County Yellow Jackets

Contributors

It must be in his genes. Martha Puckett’s own Ford Townsend LOVES to play baseball. According to his coach, “He’s the most passionate and talented middle school baseball player I have ever coached.” Ford more than likely received that passion from his great grandpa, Woodrow “Babe” Davis, who was a major league pitcher in the late 30s.

Feature Writers

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From The Publisher

Area Schools

in the

The SEGA coverage area was loaded with collegiate talent in 2013, and we had several student-athletes sign Division-1 scholarships. We had a great day on Jekyll Island on a warm February day as five of the 10 signees form the SEGA area showed up to take part in our March cover shoot.

John DuPont,

Features & Commentary

Anytime you can watch football in February it’s a good day. The all-stars of SEGA gathered in Folkston, Georgia, for the annual War of the Border game against the all-stars of Northeast, Florida. The annual game is a showcase to get student athletes exposure to college scouts that may have needs to fill roster spots. We hope you enjoy reading In the Game as much as we enjoy producing and publishing it. We are always open to suggestions as well as story ideas or ways you think we can improve our magazine. Please visit our website at www. inthegamemagazine.com and Facebook at www.facebook.com/inthegamemagazine. Join us every Thursday evening live from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm as we broadcast live “In the Game on Radio” on WWUF 97.7 FM or stream the show live on www. waycrossradio.com. We have an excellent opportunity for fundraising whether for your sports team, organization, or booster club. Please give us a call at 888-715GAME or email us at info@inthegamemagazine.com for details. While you’re online, don’t forget to nominate a deserving student athlete or coach for one of our feature articles. You’ll be glad you did.

Rob Asbell,

Features & Commentary

Shawn Smoak,

Southeast Georgia Publisher

In the Game High School Sports Magazine is published monthly excluding July. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in part or in full without written consent from the publisher. Dykes Publishing Group, Inc. makes no representation or warranty of any kind for accuracy of content. All advertisements are assumed by the publisher to be correct. Copyright 2014 Dykes Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1945-1458.

www.inthegamemagazine.com


Division 1 Signees by John Wood

photography by Jeffrey Griffith

Malique Jackson Wayne County High School - Quarterback Signed to: Florida State University Position: Defensive Back

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ackson followed a strong group of quarterbacks at Wayne, Parker Welch at Georgia and Greyson Lambert at UVA. In his senior season he led the Yellow Jackets to a semifinal finish. A very quick, agile athletic player, Malique, who will join his cousin Tre’ at FSU, could

help the defending national champion Seminoles in the secondary, certainly special teams, and possibly some time at receiver. Jackson played receiver as an underclassman at Wayne County High School.

Taylor Heflin Wayne County High School - Linebacker Signed to: Navy Academy Position: Linebacker

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’1”, 225 pounds, Heflin is the prototypical linebacker that one day hopes to be a naval aviator. A top student, Heflin was recruited by several schools, but the appeal of playing on the same field as legendary Naval Academy quarterback and Heisman Trophy, Roger Staubach at

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Annapolis outweighed any other school. Tradition and prestige not withstanding, a degree from the Naval Academy is worth $284,000. Though Heflin and his teammates might not have professional football in their futures, ckey political and military leadership positions certainly will be.


Jeremy Patterson Wayne County High School - Defensive Tackle Signed to: University of Wisconsin Position: Defensive Tackle

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ood things come in pairs and that is what is coming to Madison,Wisconsin, from Jesup, Georgia.Wisconsin was not only interested in offensive threat Krenwick Sanders, the Badgers were also able to sign a strong defensive tackle to stop the Big

10’s run-oriented offenses. A large, 6’3” 310-pound defensive tackle, Patterson is expected to make a strong impact with a much anticipated 2014 recruiting class. Signing the two teammates from Wayne County,Wisconsin has started to seriously target players from the South.

Krenwick Sanders Wayne County High School - Wide Receiver Signed to: University of Wisconsin Position: Wide Receiver

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riginally a UGA commit, Sanders, In the Game’s Offensive Player of the Year, began to attract serious attention from Wisconsin coming into his senior season. He caught 23 touchdown passes this season for 1,460 including 279 yards and six scores in the first round, setting a new GHSA record.

Speed will also put Sanders in several special team roles for the Badgers.

Anthony Johnson Camden County High School - Defensive Tackle/Tight End Signed to: Florida International University Position: Defensive Tackle

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s an upperclassman Johnson was indispensible to the Wildcats’ defensive front. A 6’3”, 325-pound frame, Johnson could make an immediate impact as a interior defensive lineman or weak side defensive end, which is the position he played at

Camden County High School. Johnson also showed versatility and athleticism, catching several passes as a tight end.

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Second Half Surge Gives Florida Third War of the Border Victory

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by John Wood

lorida scored 22 unanswered points to defeat Georgia, 22-12, for the third time in four years at the “Swamp,” the home stadium of the Class A runner-up Charlton County Indians. All four games have been played in Folkston because of its proximity to the North Florida border and the city of Jacksonville. The goal of War of the Border is to hopefully help a senior football player have a chance to be seen by a collegiate scout and to be able to have a special memory ashe finishes up his high school football career.

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photography by Jennifer Carter Johnson

“I think the game is a great opportunity for unsigned players to get that last chance to impress some college scouts. I think our players for the most part did well in the game. Of course you would always like to see your own players get more playing time, but as with all All-Star games, each player has to get his opportunity to play,” Liberty County Panthers Head Coach Kirk Warner says. Warner, who has been on the staffs of the prestigious US Army All -American Game and last month’s Under Armor All-American game, had

four of his Panthers playing for the Georgia squad in the War of the Border game. Charlton County quarterback Trae Harrington hit teammate Julian Roberts for a 41-yard gain, but Georgia could not punch the ball in. Appling County kicker Israel Jaramillo’s field goal put the home team up, 3-0. Appling defensive back Devontae Wilkerson scored Georgia’s first touchdown late in the first quarter, picking off a Florida pass from 20 yards out. Georgia held a 9-0 lead until late in the first half. Fernandina Beach’s Anthony Duclos picked off


a Georgia pass, returning the ball to the Georgia 24-yard line. Fletcher’s Codan Breckenridge added a 32-yard field goal for Florida’s first score, cutting the Georgia lead to 9-3. Florida grabbed a loose fumble from Georgia’s special teams. Bacon County’s Antonio Mason put a bone-jarring hit on the Florida quarterback, knocking him out of the game. Once Georgia got the ball back, the offense fumbled again. In the final seconds of the half, Florida got a 38yard touchdown pass from Atlantic Coast’s Ryan McFarlin to Mandarin’s Willie Burgos, giving them their first lead of the game, 10-9. Coming out of halftime the rest of the game

would be controlled by the visiting team. Menendez’s Trevon Bryant scored a rushing touchdown on Florida’s opening possession. Georgia’s special teams mishandled another kick, and Florida was able to hit the ball carrier near the one-yard line. On the next snap, Yulee’s Gary Deveaux recorded a safety. On the ensuing free kick, Breckrenridge added another field goal from 42 yards. Despite its struggling offense and special teams woes, Georgia did add one more field goal in the second half. Florida drove the length of the field in the final minutes of the game and were in the red zone

about to score as time expired, giving them a 22-12 victory. Roberts was the offensive MVP of the game for Georgia. First Coast running back Jaha McCray took offensive MVP honors for Florida after finishing with 125 yards from scrimmage, and Stanton safety Collin Conner took the defensive honors home after a pair of interceptions. The officials’ crew was provided by Flowers Baking Company of Jacksonville. According to reports, the game is expected to move to First Coast in Jacksonville next year after four years at Charlton County High School. ITG

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he goal of War of the Border is to hopefully help a senior football player have a chance to be seen by a collegiate scout and to be able to have a special memory as he finishes up his high school football career. 11


Academic Athlete sponsored by:

Yesterday and Today:

Ryan Stewart Brunswick High School

Ryan Stewart is the first student-athlete to be featured twice in the pages of In the Game’s Southeast edition. Four years ago, Stewart was a Rising Star for Needwood Middle School - a pitcher who always kept a dollar bill in his pocket, wore the same socks with a hole in them, and the same necklace during every game. He also had a fondness for sunflower seeds which he kept in his mouth almost constantly. “I still eat them on occasion,” Stewart admits. The dollar in the pocket has been retired. Much has changed in the past four years, but two things that have remained constant are his abilities at shortstop and his academic prowess. This go-round, Stewart is recognized as the Academic Athlete for leading the Brunswick Pirates on the baseball diamond and in the classroom. Stewart is approaching graduation this spring with a grade point average above a 4.0. With advanced placement classes his adjusted GPA is 4.1, placing him in the top 10 of his class. His academic accomplishments have won him membership in the Beta Club and the National Honor Society. Even on the field you can see that what was once an up-and-coming kid with solid skills has matured into more than just a good ball player. Along the way, he has also been a four-year starter for the Pirates baseball team and is the captain this season. “Ryan supplies great leadership and mentorship for our younger guys,” says Brunswick baseball coach Al Otte. Being named a Rising Star four years ago added some pressure to Stewart, who says it was primarily self applied. “I put a lot of it on myself. I didn’t want to fall off.” His skills have steadily increased since middle school but, as his school colors changed to blue and gold, one other thing had to change out of necessity. “The socks had to go,” he says. “They were red which was the wrong color.” 13


Four Years Wiser by Rob Asbell

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n a cold February night at Edo Miller Field in Brunswick, baseball coach Al Otte watches his Pirates team go through warm-up drills before practice. The 50-degree weather serves as a biting reminder that summer is still a long time away. But practices like this one build region contenders. “Stewie,” Otte calls out to his senior shortstop Ryan Stewart. When Ryan Stewart was in eighth grade he was good enough to be recognized as a Rising Star by In the Game’s Southeast Edition. Now a senior shortstop for the Brunswick High Pirates, he has added a stellar, better than perfect grade point average to become our Academic Athlete. Stewart has spent the past four years playing baseball, hitting the books, and winning accolades for both. National baseball talent ranking service PerfectGame.org praises Stewart’s arm strength and improving power, but also mentions that he is “a very good student,” which may be an understatement. A regular on the all-Ahonor roll, Stewart has a 4.1 grade point average in advanced placement classes, and he’s among the top 10 in his graduating class. He is also a member of the BETA Club and the National Honor Society. He is a Georgia Merit Scholar and has been an Exchange Club Student of the Month. On the diamond, his 5’10”, 145-pound frame disguises a powerful arm that he uses both on the mound and at shortstop. Shortstop is his favorite, but he admits he wants to be on the mound in big games. He usually gets his wish as one of the top pitchers in the Pirates rotation. Scouts have noted his fastball at 82 mph and a 69 mph curve. Primarily, he is seen as playing middle infield at the collegiate level. His drive to win started at an early age when Stewart turned his back on T-ball in favor of a more

photography by Jeffrey Griffith

competitive brand of baseball. During his first T-ball game, he gunned a throw to first base, beating the runner. Despite what would normally have been an out, the runner was returned to first base because T-ball rules do not count outs or runs. Stewart turned to his father in amazement. “He wants to know what the point is,” says his father, Chris Stewart. “He only played one year of T-ball before he moved up to where the outs, hits, and runs counted.” After being featured as an In the Game Rising Star, Stewart went on to start his freshman year at Brunswick High School. He batted .319 his sophomore year and was named to the All-Region team. Stewart hit .318 in region 1-AAAAAA as a junior with 12 doubles and two home runs and was later named as honorable mention to the all-region team. He also had one of the most memorable moments of his baseball career last season against archrival Glynn Academy. The Terrors pulled to within a run of the Pirates only to see their hopes of winning fly over the left field fence when Stewart blasted a lead-off home run, putting the Pirates back in the lead for good. Scouts believe Stewart is showing signs of increased power in his hitting. During his high school years, Stewart has not hit a lot of home runs, but he does remember his first. “It was a walk-off with two outs.” Stewart had to get used to playing at the high school level which, he said, was much faster than playing in middle school and requires players to anticipate rather than relax and wait. The level of competition is also better with more mature players who are bigger and stronger. Pitchers are able to throw in the upper 80s and even over 90 mph. “You’re not going to overpower anybody.” The son of Chris and Mary Stewart of Brunswick, Stewart encourages up-and-coming players to pay attention to detail because there is so much to learn. “Everything has to be as efficient as possible.” If given the choice of a state baseball championship or a perfect score on his college boards, Stewart says he would choose the state title because it takes a total team effort to achieve. His analytical approach to the game has helped him on the baseball diamond and in the recruiting process. Schools are much more likely to offer a scholarship if the player also excels in the classroom. Among the schools looking at Stewart is Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia. He has received an offer from the Lions, and they are at the top of his list for next season. He toured the campus and has met with Piedmont’s veteran baseball coach Jim Peeples. Stewart hopes to add more size and power before heading to college in the fall. Otte believes Stewart will not have any problems at the next level. “It is one thing to have a skill set but to have the mental ability to apply that at a high level is a great advantage for any athlete.” ITG 15


National Sign Bradwell Institute - Football

Brunswick High School - Football Photo by Rob Asbell

LaBaron Anthony - West Alabama Standing (L to R): friend Ziere Diggs (left) Quarterback Coach Frank Troupe, mother LaQuinda Davis and father Donny Davis.

Grant Fagan - Kennesaw State, Jacari Williams - Mars Hill, Jakaris Wilson - New Mexico Military Institute, Bradley Stophel - Savannah State, Quan Tobler - Eastern Arizona College, Desmond Vail - South Carolina State, Cory Dixon - Northeast Mississippi College, and Damien Baker - Reinhardt University.

Camden County - Football

Camden County - Soccer Photos by Shawn Smoak

Chris Bahr - Valdosta State University

Camden County - Football

Kalvarez Bessent - Auburn University

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Emily Blecha - Georgia Southwestern University

Camden County - Football

Anthony Johnson - Florida International University


ning Day 2014 Camden County - Football

Chris Williams - University of Central Florida

Glynn Academy - Football

Camden County - Football

Trayvon Williams - Georgia Southern University

Glynn Academy - Soccer Photos by Rob Asbell

Kenneth Cross, Deandre Cooper, and Emmett Thomas - Hutchinson Community College, Kansas

McIntosh County Academy - Football

Connor Behrend - Presbyterian Collage, South Carolina Front: Mr. & Mrs. Behrend pictured with Connor. Back: Coach Lee Swafford, Coach Bobby Brockman, Honorable Bart Altman, Coach Bob Natzke

McIntosh County Academy - Softball Photos by Lori Quigley

D’vontae Bedford - Kennesaw State University, Gerald Rhymes - Shorter University, Ulysses Carswell - Shorter University, and Coach Keith Gosse

Micah Simmons - Chattahoochee Valley Community College, Alabama MCA Coach Meagan Qualls, Mike Simmons, Micah Simmons, Chattahoochee Coach Steve O’Steen, and Vicki Simmons 17


National Signing Day 2014 Pierce County- Football

Mike Eaddy - Valdosta State Eaddy, a three-year starter, helped lead the Bears to a pair of region titles and three state playoff berths during his career.

Pierce County- Football

Tyler Harris - University of Central Florida

Wayne County - Football

Krenwick Sanders - Wisconsin University; Taylor Heflin - Naval Academy, Maryland; Dustyn Sloan - Carson Newman College, Tennessee; Jordan Padgett - Coffeyville Community College, Kansas; Malique Jackson - Florida State University; and Jeremy Patterson - Wisconsin University.

Liberty County - Football

Jeremy Caldwell-Fabregas - West Alabama Coach Kirk Warner, mother Vieta Caldwell-Fabregas and brother Joseph Caldwell-Jones 18

Charlton County - Football

Will Gowen - Sewanee University, Tennessee Seated with parents Monica Ellis and Andy Gowen


J. Lex Kenerly III, MD

A PATIENT’S GUIDE TO

Shoulder Instability

J. Matthew Valosen, MD

Only your surgeon can diagnose and help determine the best treatment for your shoulder instability or other injury. Talk to Orthopedic Surgeons Dr. Lex Kenerly, Dr. Matt Valosen, and Dr. Chris Swanson at the Bone & Joint Institute of South Georgia about the best treatment for your condition. BJISG provides the full range of orthopedic services, including surgical and nonsurgical treatments, and the only open MRI in Jesup and Waycross. From a sprain to a severe injury requiring surgery, BJISG is your first choice for comprehensive, compassionate orthopedic care. After Hours Appointments Available in Jesup Mondays until 8pm

Overhand throwing places stress on the shoulder, specifically to the anatomy that keeps the shoulder stable. In throwing athletes, these high-stress repeated motions can lead to a wide range of overuse injuries. Although throwing injuries in the shoulder most commonly occur in baseball pitchers, they can be seen in any athlete who participates in sports that require repetitive overhand motions, like football, volleyball, tennis, and some track and field events. Anatomy The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three bones: humerus, scapula, clavicle. The head of your upper arm bone fits into a shallow rounded socket in the shoulder blade called the glenoid, which is surrounded by a rim of strong, fibrous tissue called the labrum. The shoulder capsule is the ligament system that keeps the head of the upper arm bone centered in the glenoid socket. This tissue covers the shoulder joint and attaches the upper end of the arm bone to the shoulder blade. The shoulder also relies on strong tendons and muscles of the rotator cuff to keep your shoulder stable. This, along with tendons in the bicep muscles, and muscles in the upper back play an important role in keeping the shoulder stable. Cause When athletes throw repeatedly at high speed, significant stress is placed on the anatomical structures that keep the humeral head centered in the glenoid socket. The late-cocking and follow-through phases of throwing place the greatest forces on the shoulder. Late-cocking phase To generate maximum pitch speed, the thrower brings the arm and hand up and behind the body. The extreme external rotation of this position helps the thrower put speed on the ball, but, it also forces the head of the humerus forward, placing significant stress on the ligaments in the front of the shoulder. Over time, the ligaments loosen, resulting in greater external rotation and greater pitching speed, but less shoulder stability. Follow-through phase During acceleration, the arm rapidly rotates internally. Once the ball is released, follow-through begins and the ligaments and rotator cuff tendons at the back of the shoulder must handle significant stress to decelerate the arm and control the humeral head. When one structure, such as the ligament system, becomes weakened due to repetitive stress, other structures must handle the overload. As a result, a wide range of shoulder injuries can occur in the throwing athlete. Some Common Throwing Injuries in the Shoulder Instability Shoulder instability occurs when the head of the humerus partially slips out of the shoulder socket (subluxation). When the shoulder is loose and moves out of place repeatedly, it is called chronic shoulder instability. In throwers, instability develops gradually over years from repetitive throwing that stretches the ligaments and creates increased looseness. If the rotator cuff structures are not able to control the laxity, then the shoulder will slip slightly offcenter during the throwing motion.

Christopher Swanson, MD

BJISG.com

Jesup

Baxley

(866) 806 0800 (912) 427 0800

Hinesville Waycross

Pain and loss of throwing velocity are initial symptoms. Some throwers may feel the arm “go dead.” A common term for instability many years ago was “dead arm syndrome.” SLAP Tears (Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior) In a SLAP injury, the top part of the labrum is injured when a tear occurs both in front and in back of this attachment point. Symptoms include a catching or locking sensation, pain with certain shoulder movements, and pain deep within the shoulder or with certain arm positions. Rotator Cuff Tendinitis and Tears When a muscle or tendon is overworked, it can become inflamed. The rotator cuff is frequently irritated in throwers, resulting in tendinitis. Early symptoms include pain that radiates from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm. Pain may be present during throwing, other activities, and at rest. As the problem progresses symptoms may also include loss of strength and motion. Diagnosis and Treatment Your orthopedic surgeon will check the range of motion, strength, and stability of your shoulder, and may perform tests by placing your arm in different positions to reproduce your symptoms. Imaging tests, including X-ray, MRI, CT scan and Ultrasound, may be ordered to confirm your diagnosis and identify any associated problems. In many cases, the initial treatment for a throwing injury in the shoulder is nonsurgical. Treatment options may include icing, change in activities, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, or cortisone injection. If symptoms are not relieved by non-surgical treatment, surgery may be required. They type of surgery may be based on your medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies, or if symptoms are not relieved by nonsurgical treatment. Most throwing injuries can be treated with arthroscopic surgery. The surgeon inserts a small camera into the shoulder joint, displaying pictures on a TV screen, which the surgeon uses to guide small surgical instruments. Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to use very small incisions rather the large ones needed for standard, open surgery. A traditional open surgical incision is often required if the injury is large or complex. Prevention Proper conditioning, technique, and recovery time can help prevent throwing injuries. Throwers should strive to maintain good shoulder girdle function with proper stretching and strengthening, and upper back and torso strengthening. In the case of younger athletes, pitching guidelines regarding number of pitches per game and per week, as well as the type of pitches thrown, have been developed to protect them from injury.

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Player Spotlight sponsored by:

Mallori Wickard Glynn Academy

Wickard is a product of the feeder system, starting as a Glynn Middle School seventhgrader, and she has had a passion for the game since. She played on junior varsity her freshman year but made the jump to the varsity as a sophomore. By her junior year she was good enough to be named to the All-Region Second Team.

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The Volleyball Homecoming Queen by Rob Asbell

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id October 2013 was a pressure-packed time for Glynn Academy senior Mallori Wickard. The Lady Terrors volleyball team was in the playoffs facing tough competition, and Homecoming was fast approaching. But as the 5’10” Wickard tends to do, she rose above and took home the crown - literally. The day after leading the volleyball team to a 3-2 victory in their first playoff game against Northview, Wickard was named Homecoming Queen during halftime at a Terrors football game. An honor, she says, but also a genuine surprise. “I’m much more competitive in volleyball.” She proved that just four days after winning her crown with a kill that helped the Lady Terrors sweep Lakeside-Dekalb and move into the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history.

W Volleyball Terminology 101 Set:

A game to 25 points. (In a volleyball match, it is best two out of three sets)

Kill:

A ball that is attacked and a point is immediately won.

Block: Jump to block the opponent from attacking, and the ball does not cross over the net. Ace:

A serve that immediately wins a point.

Dig:

Passing a hard-driven ball that was attacked from the opponent.

Middle attacker: Located in the middle front of the court, blocks each swing the opponent takes on the other side of the net from each hitter, takes fast tempo attacks. (The ball is set to the middle much faster than any other hitter) Outside attacker: Located on the left front side of the court, blocks the right side attacker on the other side of the net, hits slower tempo attacks. Right side attacker: Located on the right side of the court, blocks the outside attacker on the other side of the net, hits slower tempo attacks. Passer: Remains in the back row of the court, plays defensive, serve receives. 22

photography by Jeffrey Griffith

varsity her freshman year but made the jump to the varsity as a sophomore. By her junior year she was good enough to be named to the All-Region Second Team. But it was her senior campaign when everything came together, and the Lady Terrors won the Region 3-AAAAA crown and a trip to the Elite Eight of the state playoffs. Wickard was also named the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Player. Ricketts has seen Wickard mature as a player during his five years at the school. After serving as junior varsity coach, this past season was his first as head coach and the team set records along the way. Glynn Academy advanced to the Elite Eight in the state playoffs for the first time in the school’s history. With a new coach also came changes to the way the team approached the game. Wickard had come up as an outside hitter but agreed to

ick ard’s 70-inch wingspan and 40-inch vertical jump hav attention of several colleges - Shorter University, Geor and State University, Flagler College, West Georgia, Fran University and Montevello University.

Glynn Academy’s volleyball team went 42-14 this season with several of the losses coming while Wickard and teammate Ali Kirk were out with ankle injuries at the same time. Despite losing both of their top players for 17 matches, the Terrors swept through league play and the Region 3-AAAAA tournament with a perfect 18-0 record and without losing a set in region play. With Wickard and Kirk back for the Lady Terrors, they won eight in a row, including a perfect tournament run before winning the first two playoff games. The most memorable shot of Wickard’s career came during the Sweet Sixteen round against Lakeside-Dekalb at the GA gym. Wickard received a perfect set and was able to smash the ball. The Terrors went on to win the match and a celebration ensued. “It was an incredible feeling as we made school history,” she says. The ride came to an end against eventual state runner-up Sequoyah High School in the quarterfinals. The daughter of Paul and Tonya Wickard of Brunswick, Wickard has played middle attacker/blocker for most of her volleyball career and added outside and right side attacker. During her senior season, she played six rotations, passing when she got to the back row, meaning that she was never out of the game. That is until she went down with an injury on September 4, 2013 against Savannah Christian. During an attack, she twisted her ankle, resulting in a sprain that sidelined her for more than two weeks. Fortunately, one of the strongest parts of her game is Wickard’s desire and work ethic which encourages other players to be like her on and off the court. Glynn Academy Volleyball Coach Jon Ricketts has always been able to depend on her; whenever the team needed a serve, a kill or block, she got it done. Even after missing so many games due to injury she still had 285 kills and 43 solo blocks last season, good enough to be named to the first team AllArea squad. Wickard is a product of the feeder system, starting as a Glynn Middle School seventh-grader, and she has had a passion for the game since. She played on junior

move to middle blocker/hitter to help the team. Ricketts credits Wickard for being able to transition into playing for a new coach in her senior year, calling her coachable. “She opened her mind to all the changes and styles of play. She put her trust in what she was being taught...She learned and became a great volleyball player.” Part of her growth as a volleyball player came in her sophomore year when she started working with the Southeast Volleyball Academy in Brunswick. Working with director Jeff Huebner taught Wickard the skill sets she needed to become a competitive player. “There was an incredible difference in my ability to perform on the volleyball court after the tough training SeVA provided for me,” she says. She has also been an outstanding student with a 3.6 GPA and is a member of clubs such as Pirates of the Spanish Main, Beta Club, DECA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Student Council. She is a regular on the honor roll, won first place in the 2012 Science Fair, and was selected by faculty as a Most Outstanding Senior. “Sports has taught her that achieving your goals takes hard work,” says her mother. Wickard’s 70-inch wingspan and 40-inch vertical jump have caught the attention of several colleges: Shorter University, Georgia College and State University, Flagler College, West Georgia, Francis Marion University, and Montevello University. She plans to major in biology/pre-med and eventually become a physician’s assistant specializing in pediatrics. Before college will come a six-week trip to the Bahamas. Not the normal graduation trip with fun and frolic in the sun, this will be a mission trip interning with The Living Stone Ministry serving Haitian refugees. Her giving attitude and selfless acts are among the things Ricketts will miss when Wickard graduates in the spring. “I will miss Mallori’s humbleness, her desire to be great, her leadership qualities through actions instead of words, and great character. She will be very hard to replace,” Ricketts says. ITG


e caught the rgia College ncis Marion

Wickard trains at the Southeast Volleyball Academy in Brunswick. http://www.southeastvolleyballacademy.com


Bacon County Red Raiders Morris Johnson Stadium • Capacity: 2,500 • Alma, GA • www.bcraidersfootball.com Cofer Makes The Move From Cook To Bacon Running the middle school team this season will be Coach Derrick James and Coach Chuck Woodall. The most dramatic change already on the table is moving the practice time to 5:30 am. “By practicing early we will avoid the heat, and it will allow kids who have jobs, dentist and doctor appointments, or other clubs in the afternoons to make those appointments, have tutoring, or make up tests and still practice football. We have found that this schedule doesn’t have any more effect on a player’s class alertness;

Bacon County High School

Out of the 90 final applications submitted to the Bacon County Board of Education, Ken Cofer, former Cook County High School football coach was the name called at the end. Cofer replaces Hildrick “Pooh” who served as head coach/athletic director for just one season. A graduate of Paulding County High School, the son of a coach and a teacher, Cofer has 18-years of experience coaching and teaching in Georgia. He brings the Bacon County program (coming off a 5-4 season) a history of success and an attitude of winning. “My plans are to bring to Bacon County something they haven’t seen.” “Our goal will be to win championships,” Cofer says. “Why should these young men put forth so much effort and have to settle for a season with five wins? We set our goals high and expect them to achieve them. I want the players and the community to expect us to win, and then the team will begin to build a legacy of winners.” This new attitude appears to be catching on around Alma as the news of the coach and his teaching principals spreads. One Raider fan says, “Our fans just quit turning out at the end of last season, but Coach Cofer appears to be the man who will bring success to the Raiders and stay to build the program. We can’t wait until the first game in the new stadium.” Raider fans for years have used the excuse of a lack of athletes to justify losing seasons. Cofer refutes this thinking: “I watched a film of Bacon playing, and I was impressed by the amount of athletes there is in the county. The offensive and defensive line is bigger here than Cook County,” says Cofer. Cofer has over 60 young men signed up for the team next season who have already begun taking part. That number far out-shadows the thirty-something that required most of the starters to play on both sides of the ball the previous two seasons. Already lined up to be assistants to Cofer are Kyle Langford, moving over from Cook, Steve Owens, moving up from the middle school, and Matt Peavey from last year’s coaching squad.

they just go to bed earlier and get up earlier.” Cofer will be running a bus around town to ensure his players have a ride to practice. Players are working in the weight room. “We are teaching them at a faster pace than they have been working out.” The coach says setting this pace will get the players used to the pace his team will be running on the field. By the scores Cofer’s Hornets ran, Bacon County can look forward to an offensive show this fall. “We’ll play a spread, I still like to use the old school name shot-gun,” says Cofer. “Although I like to run the ball, fans will see a lot of screen, and to keep the defense honest, we’ll

by Gail Fiveash be throwing the ball long. The team should be able to handle the game plan as Bacon has a bigger offensive line, as well as bigger receivers and backs,” he says. He compared his offense to that of Auburn. On defense the Raiders will be going after their opponents out of 3/5 with lots of stunts. “We will be real aggressive on offense and defense!” he says. Special teams, a problem spot for Bacon in the past, will be included in the routine of practices. The Raiders will spend hours working on the basics of catching the ball correctly. Catching punts and passes no matter what. Every player on the team will be taught to handle the ball. “We are going to work on our players’ focuses; dropping a pass or punt is a focus issue,” says Cofer. “If a player drops an interception, he may drop down and do push-ups to get his focus in check.” A key portion of Cofer’s coaching is discipline and respect. “We will teach our players to open doors for ladies, respect teachers, and that will eliminate some problems of the past. We’ll work on bad attitudes. “We will teach dirty tactics, however. We will teach our kids to be aggressive with mental toughness, and sometimes aggression leads to penalties.” Cofer comes into the program with an open mind as far as where each player will fit. “At this point every position is open.” The team wants to have a spring game this year, and Cofer is going to have two scrimmage games on the road to introduce his team to the world. The first is set for Atkinson County at 7:30 pm, August 18, and then he pits his team against the much bigger foe Cairo on the road again at 7 pm. “I want them to get used to the ride, the sweat, and face some real competition right at the start,” he says. “That’s why I scheduled the Cairo game.” The new school and stadium will be ready, and people in Bacon County feel they have the coach to bring out the wins and the fans this fall. Players, fans, and coaches wait to see if all the pieces fit for a great season.

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Coach’s Corner sponsored by:

Tony Yeomans Ware County High School

Right at Home by John DuPont

H

e didn’t grow up in Ware County, but Tony Yeomans has never been far from Gator country. The fourth-year head baseball coach at Ware County High School was a standout at Wayne County High School who later continued his success at Armstrong State College (now Armstrong Atlantic State University). After being inducted into Halls of Fame at both schools, Yeomans embarked on a coaching journey that has seen head coaching stops at two other area schools. Now in his 13th season at WCHS, he is paying forward baseball lessons he has learned. “All my coaches were competitors, and I’ve tried to put all of those into one,” says Yeomans. “Wade Odom, who was a professional player, was my head coach for two years in high school, and he was a really good teacher of the game. Mike Eckle was also my head coach, and he was a fierce competitor. Mike never wanted to hear what you’re going to do, he wanted to see it. My coach at Armstrong was Joe Roberts, who retired as the all-time win-

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photography by Bo Carter

ningest coach in NCAA history. Joe was a numbers guy who always kept up with business and stats. And I worked as an assistant here at Ware County under James Conoly, who was very knowledgeable and very conscientious about safety and treating kids fairly.” Yeomans played at Armstrong from 1981-1984 as a catcher, outfielder, and designated hitter. As a freshman, he hit eight homeruns, which then qualified not only as a season record, but a career record, in being named the team’s rookie of the year. The next year he set school marks for stolen bases and runs scored and earned NAIA All-District honors in leading the Pirates to a number eight finish in the NAIA polls. “The thing I did the best was that I had really good foot speed,” says Yeomans. “I was fast and went 36-for-37 in stolen bases my senior year.” His collegiate swan song saw co-captain Yeomans earn All-District and All-Conference honors. He finished his career with a .325 average, 29 home

runs, 176 runs batted in, and 83 stolen bases. He considered playing professionally and participated in several free agent camps before pursuing a career in the private sector. “I was going to make my career in the railroad,” he says. “I got a job in Savannah, but got laid off in the early 90s.” When the railroad didn’t pan out long-term, Yeomans cashed in on his physical education degree. He got a job teaching and coaching at Brantley County High School, where he served as an assistant baseball and football coach before being tapped as head baseball coach in 1995, his fourth year at the school. He led the Herons to an 8-16 mark in his first and only season as the Herons skipper. Long County High School was the next stop, and


“A

ll my coaches were competitors, and I’ve tried to put all of

those into one. Wade Odom, who was a professional player, was my head coach for two years in high school, and he was a really good teacher of the game,”

says Yeomans.

by 1999 Yeomans was a head coach again. He led the Blue Tide to a Final Four appearance and a region title en route to a 66-23 overall record. He was Region Coach of the Year in 2001. During those years, he also tutored Dustin McGowan, who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft. McGowan, who has appeared in more than 100 MLB games since 2005, notched a career-best 12 wins in 2007 and is once again competing for a spot in the Blue Jays rotation this season “I guess my claim to fame is coaching McGowan,” says Yeomans. “He went from throwing 87 miles per hour to around 95 between his junior and senior years.” Yeomans moved on to Ware County following the 2001 season and spent the better part of the next decade learning from one of the game’s greats in Conoly. In 2010, Conoly retired from coaching and passed the torch to Yeomans. The Gators went 9-12-1 during the 2011 campaign, their first under the new skipper. WCHS improved to 18-10 the following year and 16-101 last season, with playoff berths each time. His 2014 Gators took a 2-1 mark into the final week of February, with sights set on greater things to come. “Tony has a good background in baseball and I have a lot of respect for him and his baseball knowledge,” says Conoly. “He is an extremely good hitting coach and a good disciplinarian. I used to do it all, but when Tony came to work for me I turned hitting over to him. He is good at breaking down the fundamentals of hitting and gets a lot of bat speed out of the kids. He is good at helping them set up for certain pitches.” Teams of particular note in Region 3-AAAAA are Richmond Hill, Effingham County, and Glynn Academy, according to Yeomans. Though WCHS lost three starters to graduation in 2013, he is confident Ware will compete this season.

“If we can, we’ll hit and run or bunt,” says the Gator boss. “My first year here in 2011, I don’t think we bunted because we hit 40 homeruns… we played for the big inning. My second year we hit 17 homers, so we did more bunting and running and sacrificing. Last year we only hit two homeruns, but that’s when the new bat rule came into effect, so everybody’s total was down.” A longtime football assistant, Yeomans coaches running backs on the WCHS ninth grade team in the fall. He previously served as head football coach at Ware Middle School, where he was the school’s first-ever athletic director. He also coached the baseball and wrestling teams for five years at WMS and taught there for 10 years. Yeomans, who has a Master’s degree through Troy, additionally taught two years at Center Elementary School. This is his first year at Waycross Middle School, where he teaches health and physical education. He is married to the former Suzanne Hickox of Hoboken, and they have four teenaged children: Dustin, Grayson, Tristan, and Mason. They are members of Hoboken Baptist Church. This season Yeomans is ably assisted by coaches Joseph Hayman and Larry Turner on the varsity. Jason Smith and Drew Shealy coach the junior varsity. “We preach the little things, but if it’s one word, it’s execution,” says Yeomans. “We do all our fussing during practice, but our kids know what to do in the games because they are taught that in practice. I feel like you need to put a product on the field to compete, and my job is to put us in a position to win the game.” ITG

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Camden County Wildcats Kingsland, GA • www.wildcat.camden.k12.ga.us/ Life In The CCHS Baseball Diamond

Camden County High School

The 2014 baseball season is starting at a quick pace at Camden County High School. Under the leadership of Head Coach Jay Lasley, the Wildcats are giving preseason 100 percent effort in order to become champions. Being a high school coach for sixteen years (12 at Camden County), Lasley has always loved the game of baseball. “It’s just one of those things that I have always done and have enjoyed being around,” he says. “My philosophy is for my players to give all that they have during practice and at a game. I want to push my guys to be the best that they can be. My philosophy has changed over time. Now I aim to be a little bit more understanding instead of being their drill sergeant. However, even though the high school level should be an enjoyable experience, it is also competitive. So, we try to get the best out of it that we can.” As the journey of the season begins, practices for the baseball boys are, at all times, intense. Lasley explains how during the early season, the main focus is on the fundamentals of baseball. “You also have to relax and take a step back,” Lasley says. “You have to be aware of the components that are essential such as the physical build of each player and how they use their own strengths in order to benefit the team. That is the reason why our goal to be strong early can have an effect on how we play and how we can be well-balanced.” Lasley has sought to help his varsity overcome mistakes, explaining how those mistakes can help him become a better baseball coach. “A lot of times I have placed an athlete in a position for which he is not prepared,” Lasley says. “If anything, I have learned to play to my playes’ strengths. Just trying to use your players properly is something over the last few years that I have been trying to do.” Coach Lasley believes that this year’s team has the strength of athleticism. The Camden boys are strong and can move swiftly and fast. “I think we have to come up with a way that we can take advantage of our athleticism,” Lasley says. “We are working 10 times harder with getting our pitching skills under control after two of our starting pitchers graduated last year. If we can be creative, and our team can gain some confidence, I strongly believe we can play ball.” With discipline, Coach Lasley and his coaching staff use a case-by-case rulebook. They want their players to represent the baseball program and the school well. If they have an athlete who attempts to bend the rules, they handle it through their “cardiovascular conditioning program.” To avoid these unruly acts, Lasley instills in them a work ethic and belief in themselves. He says, “As the athlete grows into adulthood, those are the two things that are essential. My players need to remember how, in order to be successful, they must give 100 percent of all that they have and strive to achieve in all areas where they think they are unworthy.”

by Kate Slattery

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Rising Star

The Thro Player Ford Townsend Martha Puckett Middle School

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by John Wood photography by Jeffrey Griffith

B

Baseball is America’s game. The nation withstanding, baseball certainly is Martha Puckett Middle School eighth-grader Ford Townsend’s game. “Other kids like to play baseball, and other kids have fun playing baseball, but Ford loves to play baseball. Whether it’s in a big game, the practice field, or just hanging out with his family and friends, Ford Townsend is the most passionate and talented middle school baseball player I have ever coached,” Martha Puckett Middle School baseball coach Brian Pruitt says. The 6’, 195-pound Townsend claims Babe Ruth is his favorite player. “I like him, how he approached the game, the way he hit the baseball. He was a pitcher in his early career but was eventually moved to the outfield,” Townsend says. Ford’s admiration of Ruth actually reaches back to a contemporary of Ruth and his own greatgrandfather, Woodrow “Babe” Davis, a pitcher from Nichols, Georgia. He was on the opening day roster of the 1938 Detroit Tigers roster. “My great grandpa was a major league pitcher, he even pitched against Lou Gehrig in the old Yankee Stadium,” Townsend says.


“My great grandpa was a major league pitcher, he even pitched against Lou Gehrig in the old Yankee Stadium,” Townsend says.

owback Townsend has played baseball for as long as he can remember but about the time he was eight years old, the game took on a different meaning. “I started to watch the older players and my brother. I started trying to do the same things they did to make myself better. I also started to really watch baseball, to look at situations at the plate, knowing that batting isn’t simply about going up to the plate and swinging the bat; it’s about understanding situations, looking at what the infield is doing. Should I go opposite field, where is the hole that the infield is giving me? More than anything learning to really think about the game of baseball and understand it deeper has made me play the game more aggressively,” Townsend says. Townsend is a pitcher who throws a two-seam fastball that has been clocked at 80 mph but is consistently in the mid 70s. Coupled with a 12 to six curve ball and a circle change-up, his six-foot frame hurtling off the mound can create fear in hitters. Last season, he finished 3-1, striking out 20 batters for Martha Puckett. “On the field Ford is a born leader. His knowledge of the game allows him to take on a commanding role during games and practices. Having someone like Ford on your team makes coaching a whole lot easier; it’s like having an assistant coach that can also hit .400 in the middle of your line up. His mechanics and fundamentals at third base and on the mound are among the best I’ve ever seen. On the mound he brings such size and power that is pronounced by his flawless mechanics. Since I met Ford in

2012 he has impressed me with his work ethic and ability to be coachable,” Pruitt says. As a hitter, Townsend is a tough out for any pitcher. Last season he hit .439 with 20 RBIs and scored 22 runs. “I am always thinking about the situation we are in at the plate, but I am also going to hit my pitch that I want, not the pitch that the pitcher wants me to hit. I am waiting on a fastball, but I can and will adjust to anything they throw me. I want to play team baseball so if I need to move a runner over, that’s exactly what I am going to try to do to help us win,” Townsend says. Pruitt also has Ford as a student and says that his academic work ethic and hard work as a student is the same that exists on the diamond or gridiron. Townsend also played football last season for the first time for Pruitt, enjoying his time on the defensive line. “I played football my first time this season. I played both sides of the line, but I like defense more than offense,” Townsend says. Townsend’s favorite class is weightlifting, which has been extremely beneficial. “I have been lifting weights, running, and doing pushups to get in better shape. I just want to thank my grandpa, uncle, and daddy for all of the hours they have spent making me a better baseball player,” Townsend says. Like all great baseball players, Ford has his rituals that he follows. “I say a prayer before games, straighten my uniform and make sure my jersey is tucked in and looks good, and then go play the game I love,” Townsend says. ITG 31


Bradwell Institute Tigers Olvey Field • Capacity: 9,000 • Hinesville, GA Bradwell Tigers Hoops Ends Successful Season In First Round win the last game. Would have been real nice to win because of the way the region tournament is set up with a day off between games for the one and two seed. It didn’t work out the way we planned, and we will have to go the hard road if we win the first game and play back to back,” Hellgren says. A three seed in the region tournament, Bradwell cruised by Glynn Academy in the first round which set up a second game with number two seed Effingham. A healthier Gant that was able to play most of the game created lots of problems for the guard-oriented Tigers. However, Bradwell still had fight and came back to claim the third seed, defeating Richmond Hill. “We have a tough region, and if you don’t play and do what you are supposed to do, anyone can beat you in this region. We did not beat anyone handily, and it is going to be hard to beat whomever we have in the region tournament three times. Those teams are motivated to beat you, and you become complacent. We have to avoid that, and I keep reminding the guys that they’d better play hard all the time or we could get upset like we did last year,” Hellgren says. Being a third seed, the Tigers had to travel halfway across Georgia for the first round, playing the Bain-

bridge Bearcats, a number two seed. Bainbridge hit nine treys, and the Tigers, despite playing a strong game, couldn’t recover from the three-pointers and the foul trouble in the second half, giving the Bearcats a 87-74 win. The Tigers relied on the senior leadership of Jamorris Hill, Malcolm Dingle, and Resha Stokes during the season. “This senior class has been great. They are leaders and play hard day in and day out in practice and games. Don’t know if I will ever have such good leaders. I am truly blessed to have them in my second year,” Hellgren says.

Bradwell Insititute

The Bradwell Tigers led Region 3-AAAAA in the first half of the season and remained a factor the rest of the season. The Tigers finished third seed in one of the toughest regions in the state. Region 3-AAAAA had several tough teams such Effingham County, Savannah Jenkins, and Ware County. Effingham was led by Jakeenan Gant, a Missouri signee, Region 3-AAAAA player of the year, and Mr. Basketball for the State of Georgia. Region champion Jenkins, which was ranked in the Class AAAAA top five most of the season. Head basketball coach Rhett Hellgren’s teams have certainly gained respect around the region because of how hard the Tigers play defensively. It was the defense and developing a patient offense that kept the Tigers in the top three teams of the region throughout this season. “I tell the players all of the time that we will play 84 feet of defense. We are going to hang our hat on defense; it’s always going to be very important to us,” Hellgren says. In the final week of the season, Bradwell had a chance to gain ground on Effingham but lost in overtime when an injured and limited Gant gave the Rebels a boost in overtime. “It would have been nice to

by John Wood

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Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets Hazlehurst, GA • www.jeff-davis.k12.ga.us Blue Dolphins Swim Team On Saturday, December 21, the team swam at a meet hosted by the University of Georgia. They have been practicing since the end of October every day during the week under the coaching of Chuck Crosby and Chris Campbell. Coach Crosby has been coaching swimming for six years and is a level three USA coach; he attends many training sessions and camps to learn more about how to coach and improve his team. Coach Campbell is a dedicated second year swim coach and a level one USA coach. The two work together very efficiently. Coach Campbell says that the high school swimmers are exceptionally experienced and acclimated to the water. “They are able to feel the water,” he says. The team as a whole has been swimming since they were young, and they work well together. As the season progresses, we can expect nothing but the best from the Blue Dolphins!

Photo By Chris Campbell

The Blue Dolphins Swim Team has always been a team of excellence, and this sport does not go unnoticed in Jeff Davis County. Photos of swimmers are in the local newspaper almost weekly, and banners of record breakers and champions line the walls of the pool building. The Blue Dolphins program has grown tremendously over the past year. “The Jeff Davis Middle School has a first-year swim team. This will boost our high school team in the future,” Coach Chris Campbell says. The high school team has eight swimmers: Laramie Sellers (ninth), Kaela Drumm (10th), Logan Bullock (ninth), Ryan Kersey (ninth), Taylor Royal (ninth), Cassie Haynes (ninth), Christen Campbell (10th), and Kailyn Carver (11th). The girls’ relay team and a total of six of the eight swimmers have already qualified to compete at state on February 7. In order to qualify, the swimmers have to achieve a qualifying time in their events.

by Brittany Mason

The 2013-14 Yellow Jacket Swim team

Lady Jackets Basketball Even with a young and inexperienced team, the Lady Jackets Basketball Team at Jeff Davis High School has had an outstanding season. There are three seniors on the team this year, Karin Hernandez, Shlyrick Locke (one of the starters), and Irenia Williams. The other four starters consist of three sophomores and one freshman. Head Coach Barry Waller says, “We are young and inexperienced as a team, but we are playing hard and have seen good results.” Although young, these

by Brittany Mason girls have shown much talent and potential. Their hard work and dedication have paid off this season. The team’s first practice was on October 28; for three weeks, they practiced every day except Sunday. However, now that the season is in full swing, they average about three or four practices a week depending on the game schedule. The games bring much excitement and anticipation at the JDHS gym. The student section in the gym is different than any other student section

around. The students of Jeff Davis High School sit in a section of the bleachers labeled “THE NEST,” which is beside the cheerleaders. At any point during a home game, the entire section is packed with students cheering and supporting both the girls and boys basketball teams. Several of the boys wear blue body suits and have been spotted on the front page of the Jeff Davis Ledger. The support of the students has a large impact on the players. Photo By Julie Ernst

Karin Hernandez

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Shlyrick Locke

Irenia Williams


Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets Hazlehurst, GA • www.jeff-davis.k12.ga.us Jeff Davis Yellow Jacket Wrestling Makes Its Own History

Photo by Julie Ernst

and was very successful. His junior year, he went Alex Roussert, a drummer for the Yellow Jacket to the state tournament, where he placed sixth and Marching Band and a boys track member, began became one of the first underclass placers from Jeff wrestling at the 125 pound weight class his freshDavis. Harper is working hard for another chance man year. Following his freshman year, he wrestled to go to state at the end of the season. Although unat 138 (10th), 152 (11th), and 170 (12th). Roussert sure of where he will further his education, he plans has a full ride on an academic scholarship to Troy to attend a university in the fall to pursue an engiUniversity beginning fall 2014 where he plans to maneering or medical degree. He is also a BETA Club jor in business. A highlight in his wrestling career member, FFA member, student council member, was a first-time tournament placing at the Brantley and on the student leadership wellness committee. Bash his sophomore year. Roussert is also a BETA His freshman year, he was awarded the practice Club member and an FCCLA member. award, and last season he received the most valuable wrestler award. Felipe Morfin started wrestling in the 103 pound weight class his ninth grade year, moved up to the 106 his tenth grade year, and then jumped to 120 his junior year. As a senior, he currently wrestles in the 132 pound weight class. His ninth grade year, Morfin placed fourth at area and became a sectionals qualifier. His tenth grade year he placed first at the Brantley Bash and 2014 Sectional Qualifiers: Kameron Wells, Curt Harper, Hunter Phillips, placed fourth at area, advancing to Alex Roussert, Cameron Calhoun, Damon Upton, Austin Herndon sectionals for the second year in a row. This season, Morfin captured a first place title at the Viking Invitational. After graduation, he plans to attend ABAC for two years before transferring to a university where he hopes to become an orthopedic physician. Morfin also runs track and plays soccer for his church’s league and also participates in FCCLA, FFA, and BETA Club. He won the Coach’s Award his sophomore year and the Practice Award his juSenior Wrestlers: Alex Roussert, Cameron Calhoun, nior year.

Photo by Beth Davis

Felipe Morfin, and Curt Harper

Photo by Beth Davis

On December 6 and 7, the Yellow Jacket Wrestling team hosted the Annual Yellow Jacket Duals Tournament at Jeff Davis High School. With approximately thirty wrestlers, the team was large enough to be divided into two for the season. Team one got fourth at the duals, finishing beneath state-qualifying teams. This was a great start for the Yellow Jackets and a first-time placing at their annual duals. As the season continued, the wrestling team placed at least fourth and brought home trophies at every tournament except for the Cook County Tournament where they placed fifth. Making Jeff Davis history, the team placed third at the Area Duals Tournament. This was the highest they have ever placed there. This was a major milestone for the team and showed that they are becoming a highly competitive program with an overall dual meet record this year of 20-6. On January 18, both teams traveled to Pierce County for the “Bear Brawl.” With hard work and determination, the team won their first-ever tournament championship! Following up on their championship, the team traveled to Toombs County for the Area Traditional Tournament on January 31 and February 1 and left with the title of Area Runners-Up! This year’s team has four seniors: Cameron Calhoun, Curt Harper, Felipe Morfin, and Alex Roussert. Cameron Calhoun, a first-year wrestler, competes in the 160 pound weight class for the Jackets. He was very successful at the West Laurens Tournament, where he placed fourth and has also qualified for sectionals. Calhoun also played football all four years of high school and runs on the track team. After graduation, he plans to attend college and become a marine biologist in the future. Senior Curt Harper began wrestling in the 189 pound weight class as a freshman. He also started on the JD football team his freshman year. The next three years Harper wrestled in the 220 weight class

by Brittany Mason

The 2013-14 Jeff Davis Wrestling Team

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Long County Blue Tide Veterans Stadium • Capacity: 2,000 • Ludowici, GA • www.longcountyfootball.com Lady Biue Tide They currently have matched last year’s win total with three games remaining. Todd says, “Our goal at the beginning of the year was to get better every day. We didn’t want to set a number as a goal because if we didn’t reach it, we didn’t want to say our season was a failure. Working hard every day to improve was something we could control ourselves.” The Lady Blue Tide’s offense is run by freshman point guard Malaka Elix. Joining her in the backcourt are Katie Estill and Keke Calhoun. “Our guards have worked really hard at handling pressure. It seems like every team wants to press our young guards.” Freshman Elexxus Wrighton, the youngest player on the team, holds down the middle. Wrighton is currently averaging 11 rebounds per game. “Elexxus

is our heart and soul. She is a warrior. Every night she comes to play at 100 mph.” Keshandra Copper is making the adjustment from guard to fill the other post spot for the Lady Blue Tide. Long County’s key reserves are also underclassmen. Kat Wingate and Tyronica Johnon add valuable minutes off the bench along with Sam Garcia, who Coach Todd calls his most improved player. The fans of Long Co. are excited about the future of their team. Coach Todd says he is always hearing how these “babies” are growing up fast. “The support from parents and fans has been awesome. The girls come to work hard every day, and you can’t ask for anything else.”

Long County high School

Coming into this season, Coach Brian Todd knew the Lady Blue Tide would be very young. After inheriting a team that lost 80 percent of their starting lineup from the previous year, it was time to rebuild. “I just want to go out and try to recruit our other athletes to come play basketball. We wound up adding three softball players and a couple from track,” says Todd. The rebuilding process has developed into the youngest team in the region. “We are starting three sophomores and two freshmen. We have 20 young ladies in our program, and 18 of them will be returning next season,” says Todd. The Lady Blue Tide hasn’t won every game this year but is showing tremendous improvements.

The 2013-14 Blue Tide Basketball Ladies

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Pierce County Bears Blackshear, GA · www.pchs.pierce.k12.ga.us

Photo by Ivy Young

Knox Knows His Music

by Ivy Young Matt Knox has been an active member of the Pierce County Band Program for five years (sixth to 10th grade). Matt’s ninth grade year he joined the PCHS Sound of Silver Marching Band, concert band, and jazz band. His primary instrument is the trombone, but Matt can also play piano, guitar, bass guitar, tuba, baritone, mandolin, banjo, and xylophone. Matt has auditioned and participated in all-district, state, and region honor bands. Outside of school Matt stays very busy with music. He is the bass guitarist for the South Sandwich Islands Band, a trombonist in the Wizard of Oz Orchestra at the Ritz Theater in Waycross, and he also plays a variety of instruments at his church, First United Methodist. Matt improved his leadership quality by attending UGA’s summer marching band camp this past summer. “Matt is a great student with remarkable music talent,” says PCHS Band Director Bob Edwards. Over the past five years Matt has achieved many accomplishments and awards. He made All-District band his sixth through 10th grade years. On top of All-District Band Matt also made All-State and All-

Region bands his eighth grade year and All-District Jazz and AllState bands his 10th grade year. Matt was awarded the prominent Directors Award in both his seventh and eighth grade years. He was named Band Student of the Week his ninth grade year. Currently Matt holds a leadership position with the PCHS marching band (chip master). “Music is number three in my life,” Matt says. “First is God, second are my friends and family, and then music. The way I see it, unlike sports or other physical activities, music is always with you. Mike Carter and Bob Edwards, my middle and high school music teachers, have shown me this. I would be no where without their dedication, and I can’t thank them enough for how they have shaped me as a musician and a better person.” After high school, Matt plans on attending either the University of Rochester or the Manhattan School of Music. His career goal is to be a musical educator or an orchestra conductor.

“Music is love, love is music, music is life, and I love my life. Thank you and good night.”

- A.J. McLean

Bear Gridders Honored The Pierce County football team held its endof-the-season banquet on January 23 to commemorate the 2013 season. A full house of individuals showed up to support the Bears and the achievements that they had accomplished this season. Members of the team and their family members dressed in

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by Joshua McDay their Sunday’s best to the occasion held at the high school’s lunch room. Delicious food was also served to the guests of the special event. Advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the second straight year, the Bears had another successful season. PCHS housed at least one first team region honor at every position on the field. To top it all off, the Bears also claimed the region 1-AAAOffensive Player of the Year Award, given to quarterback Tyler Harris. From top to bottom the Bears have talent, and it certainly showed under the fall Friday night lights. During the awards ceremony the Senior

Award was given to Layne Dixon and the Dixon family, which was well-deserved. Afterwards, the Dixon family presented a special gift to every senior football player as a token of thanks for their support keeping Layne’s legacy alive. The occasion was capped-off by the viewing of the seasonal highlight film held in the auditorium. Watching those highlights put a stamp on the successful year that the Bears embarked on. The sky is the limit now that PCHS prepares for spring practices and for the 2014 season in which the coveted state title is the ultimate goal.


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Pierce County Bears

Varsity Wrestlers Finishing Strong

by Brittany Howell that Johnson is in South Carolina wrestling, it may pave the way for more of our guys to get into college to wrestle. We hope to qualify in area and send at the least eight to sectionals. As a team we would like to send up to four to state to represent our school.” The amazing Pierce team has the ability to make it further than they ever imagined. It is outstanding

Lady Bears Basketball Photo Courtesy of the Blackshear Times

to see just how far the guys have made it this season. They have spent many hours practicing and preparing for upcoming events. It not only teaches boys how to wrestle and how to win, but it teaches self-control and pride. While many may have wrestled without greatness, none have wrestled without pride. Photo by Jennifer Johnson

This year has been a wonderful year for Pierce County’s varsity wresting team. Currently the dual record is 19-5. Practice is not easy, but these boys have fought through it because they are great wrestlers. The roster for the team is Clay Parker (106), Kody Wolf (113), Tyler Wilby (120), Thomas Echols (120), Lorenzo Clark (126), Chago Ramirez (132), L.J. Fullard (138), J.J. Mackey (145), Caleb Alvarez (152), Seth Bryant (152), Travis Courson (160), Carter Malone (160), Ian Kessler (170), Austin Cothern (195), Nick Bennett (182),Charles Scarborough (220), Cody Demers (220), and Dustin Bryant (285). Area champions include Clark, Malone, and Bryant, as well as area runners-up Ramirez, Fullard, Mackey, and Scarborough. Others placing at area included Wolf (third), Bennett (fourth), Kessler (fifth), Echols (sixth), and Bryant (sixth). Recently PC’s wrestlers placed second in the Johnson Dual and fourth in the Bear Brawl. On January 31- February 1 they competed in area competition. Sectionals were held on February 6-7. The top four from the area go to sectionals, and the top four from there go on to state. When interviewed in early February, Coach Brandon Jernigan said, “Overall as a team we have a ton of talent. When we lost Rob Johnson last year, that left a big role to fill in the leadership position. Now

Blackshear, GA · www.pchs.pierce.k12.ga.us

by Josie DuPont The Pierce County High School girls’ basketball team is coached by Kelly Brown, who is also the former head coach of girls’ golf. The 2014 team is made up of 10 girls. There are two seniors: Tynisha Harris and Nene Shaw. The Lady Bears have played around 28 games this season. In two of their recent games, the Lady Bears fell short against Savannah-Johnson and Beach. Savannah-Johnson scored 57 points in their win over Pierce County while the Lady Bears only scored 35 points. This was not a very well-performed game from the Lady Bears. Beach is the third-ranked team overall and got their fifth consecutive win against the Lady Bears with a score of 58-34. Senior Nene Shaw led the

team during this game with a total of 14 points. Another 10 points of the game were scored by sophomore Alexus Shaw. The girls had to travel about 12 times this season. They travelled for the last time of the regular 2014 season to Brantley County on February 4, where they won. The girls closed out their regular season on February 7 and 8 when they played Savannah High and New Hampstead. They played their last home game of the season on February 8 where they received a win against New Hampstead. This was also their senior night.

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Pierce County Bears

Boys Basketball Seniors

by Maggie Santana LaGrange College on a football scholarship.” Nathan Carter says, “I started playing basketball at the age of thirteen. I am to some extent competitive against my teammates. It is very critical to work with your teammates and compete with others.” Carter describes his strengths and weaknesses: “My strengths are leadership and my will to win, also my attitude on not giving up. My weakness would be my hesitation to spark up a confidence booster in a critical time of the game.” Playing is not all about winning games for Carter. “Success for me is the maturity and happiness that I can look back and take with me to the future. I have grown from my freshman year; my skills and leadership increased significantly. I plan to take these qualities of leadership and teamwork and apply them to my future in business. Lastly, I would like ev-

Photos by Jennifer Carter Johnson

Pierce County has two amazing young athletes that are seniors this year. Nathan Carter and Darius Foreman were both eager to show their talents and spend their time on the basketball court. Basketball season is to its end, but they have done their best. Coach E.B. Price says, “Nathan and Darius are exceptional young men who have a burning desire to excel in life. They have been the mainstay of our Bear basketball team this season, and we wish them the best in their futures.” Darius Foreman, football and basketball player, says, “I was eight years old when I started playing basketball. I am very competitive even with my own team. When it comes to sports I want to be the best one on the floor. My success has come from a lot of hard work. My goals for the season were to make it into the playoffs. Since my freshman year I have grown; I am a starter and became a better leader. My plan for the future is to attend

Blackshear, GA · www.pchs.pierce.k12.ga.us

eryone to know it doesn’t matter how you start; all that matters is how you finish.” Coach Price says, “The team is like a newborn baby, we have learned so much about the game of basketball, to grow, absorb, nurture and find the three D’s—desire, determination and discipline—to be a team. We have definitely improved as the season progressed. I would not trade my experience with this team for anything in the world. It has been a great ride. I wanted them to get out of this experience that life is not fair; nothing will work unless you do. Also if you get knocked down seven times, stand up eight, and give it your all. Lastly, complaints, laziness, worries will not help tomorrow’s troubles, but it does ruin today’s happiness. Be thankful for who you are, and go Bears!”

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Ware County Gators Memorial Stadium • Capacity: 12,000 • Waycross, GA • www.warecountygators.net NeNe Rewrites The Record Book The Lady Gators’ basketball season came to an early end in the state playoffs but not before senior Dinecia “NeNe” Howard rewrote the record books. She ended her high school career with 1,551 points to set a new recent school mark. On February 7, during the Lady Gators’ final home game of the season, Howard was honored for scoring over 1,000 points in her career. Coach Mandy Lingenfelter said that in the three years she has coached her, Howard has never asked how many points she has scored. “I have coached NeNe since she was a sophomore and not one time has she ever asked me that question.” But it was just a few days after she was honored that one shot got away. During the region championship game against Effingham County, there were 1.8 seconds left in the game, and the Lady Gators were down by two points. Howard stole the ball and heaved up a half-court shot that went around the rim and bounced out. Although Ware lost the game, Howard wound up with 26 points. She hopes to one day play in the WNBA and says her favorite part of the game is the physical play.

by Rob Asbell She enjoys “diving for the ball, hustling, rebounding, and running up and down the court the entire game.” As a junior, Howard led the Lady Gators to a 1711 record and a berth in the state quarterfinals. She continued to burn the nets as a senior, averaging 18 points per game. This year, the girls’ team went 21-8 and again made it to the state playoffs. Defensively, Howard moves quickly, and opponents never know if she is coming at them from front or back. She averaged four steals and eight rebounds per game this season. Offensively, the 5’5” point guard can hit from anywhere on the court, especially from behind the three-point line where she is always a threat to score. She is also a leader on the court and averages four assists per game. In addition to playing basketball, Howard is also on the Gators’ softball and track teams. In the spring she qualified for the state track meet and in the fall was voted as Region 3-AAAAA Softball Player of the Year at centerfield. She hit .460 as the lead-off batter for the Lady Gators where, once again, it was her speed that made her a force, giving her opportunities to beat out routine grounders into base hits. Howard has spent her four years at Ware County High School collecting athletic awards. Following

her freshman year she was named to the second team all-region squad in softball and was the team’s best defensive player. In her sophomore year she was first team all-region in softball and basketball and won the Golden Shoe Award as the best field athlete. In her junior year she repeated as first team all-region in softball and was also honored as the team’s MVP and top defensive player. In basketball she was also first team all-region, team MVP, and best offensive player. She also repeated as the Lady Gators’ best field athlete in track and finished seventh at the state meet in both the discus and shotput and eighth in the pole vault. This year she was, again, first team all-region in softball and second team all-state. Her athletic accomplishments have left Howard with a difficult decision to make soon. “I am being recruited by many schools. I just have to make a decision on which sport and where I want to go.” Howard is being recruited in basketball by Middle Georgia College, Coffeeville in Kansas, Sante Fe Community College, Southern Poly, Chattahoochee Valley, East Georgia, Piedmont, and Gadsden State. She hopes to major in nursing. “NeNe is fearless, and she never quits,” Coach Lingenfelter says. “I will miss her strength and power.” Ware County High School

Dinecia Howard is honored for scoring more than 1,000 points during her career at Ware County High School. Pictured (left to right) is Howard, with her mother, Felicia Howard, and WCHS girls basketball coach Mandy Lingenfelter holding the banner.

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Wayne County Yellow Jackets Jaycee Stadium • Capacity: 4,500 • Jesup, GA Senior Leadership Should Help For Successful Season Spring time in Wayne County. It’s time for the traditionally strong Yellow Jacket baseball team to get cranked up for another season. Wayne’s baseball team has been known for strong pitching and hitting in the past, and the 2014 campaign looks like it will not be any different. “We were 21-7 last season. Our strength is going to be pitching and defense. We are going to again rely on our pitching staff to keep us in games and give us a chance to win. I don’t necessarily think we have weaknesses, just things that we need to work on and continue to improve on each day,” Wayne County Head Baseball Coach Justin McDonald says. The Yellow Jackets have 30 players out, but McDonald will depend on leadership from a nucleus of senior players. “We have six seniors—Ben Hockensmith, Kasey Crawford, Delton Ognilla, Clay Teston, Sid Royal, and Justin Moody—that are all going to be major impacts this season,” McDonald says. Strong pitching has been a hallmark of the majority of McDonald’s squads at Wayne and will be again this season.

In the home-opener against Brantley, J.D. Paul and Royal combined for a 16 strikeout one hit 3-0 shutout of the Herrons. Paul struck out nine in four scoreless innings. Royal entered the game in the fifth inning, striking out seven more. “J.D. Paul, Sid Royal, Payton Phillips, and Justin Moody will lead our staff throughout the season. Again our pitching will be a major strength this season. Assistant coach Jordan Mullis does an outstanding job with our pitching staff and develops them throughout their high school careers, and it is paying off now. We will have others step in and provide some help as well,” McDonald says. At times the Yellow Jackets have struggled against offensive threats and there has been a lack of consistency at the plate. McDonald stressed that improving offensively is an area the Yellow Jackets were working on this season. “We need to form an offensive aspect. We see it as a work in progress from an offensive standpoint, and we are continuing to work and get better each day. Our offensive philosophy is to get as many runners to third as possible with less

by John Wood than 21 outs and to put pressure on defenses utilizing the bunting and running game,” McDonald says. McDonald showed his willingness to use his philosophy in the Brantley game. Brantley left-hander Trevor Hendrix made things tough on the Yellow Jackets at the plate. Wayne started bunting some players to get on base, and having base runners created situations where they could put more offensive strategy in to get runners to the plate. Wayne plays in a strong baseball region, but the Yellow Jackets play a tough season beginning with Baseball at the Beach. Baseball at the Beach is the annual tournament that gives area teams a chance to play some teams from all around the state, including some Atlanta metro powers. Besides tournaments and non-region games, the Yellow Jackets have some tough region competition in AAAA state power South Effingham and Statesboro. “Statesboro and South Effingham are the teams to beat, and they will be strong this season. Both coaches do outstanding jobs with their programs,” McDonald says.

Photos By Jeffrey Griffith, Old GoaT Photography

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March 2014 Southeast Georgia Edition  

In the Game High School Sports Magazine

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