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Northwest Georgia

May 2021

Rising Stars A Premier Local High School Publication

Spring Sports W R A P- U P

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Trace Vaughn, Mike Anthony, Matt Crowder Jenna Palazzolo, Dr. Andrea Walraven

May marks what most consider the beginning of summer, although it doesn’t officially begin until June 20th. It also marks the end of a journey for the seniors as they graduate and take some time before their next journey begins. This May is also special as it is the end of the 2020-2021 school year and one most believed we would not see it through as we still have had to deal with the pandemic. But as a community and a country we were able to see not only a complete school year but also the high school sports be able to play full seasons. This May also marks, unfortunately, an end to the NWGA Rising Stars Magazine as we are not able to continue for many factors: first we did not get the support financially from the community in the advertising we needed to sustain the magazine; second, we have had some machine issues lately that has caused the magazine to be late coming out; finally, there have been some health issues that need to be addressed immediately. We are hoping at some point we can come back, but for now, NWGA Rising Stars will be closing its doors and will not be back for the 2021-2022 school year. We are truly sad about this as we have loved being able to share so many amazing stories of the students and others in our communities. Again, we do not want this to be a goodbye but a see you later, for now. So, if you would like to check up on us or just want to say hi please feel free to contact Stephen Norton or Brian Pruett at Stephen@nwgarisingstars.com or Brian@nwgarisingstars.com. Thank you again for welcoming our magazine into your communities and again, hope to see you again in the near future. Due to illnesses, equipment and Sincerely, family issues, NWGA Rising Stars apologizes for the last three issues being out late. Co-Founders, Northwest Georgia Rising Stars

Katie Ward, Adam Dortch, Tim Godbee, Sports Furnace Athletics, Barbara Hall


ART + DESIGN Jessica Doran

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Northwest Georgia Rising Stars P.O. Box 390 Acworth, GA 30101 770.917.0710 stephen@nwgarisingstars.com

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars is a publication of and distributed by Star Printing. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored for retrieval by any means without written consent from the publisher. Northwest Georgia Rising Stars magazine is not responsible for unsolicited materials, and Star Printing accepts no responsibility for the contents or accuracy of claims in any advertisement in any issue.



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Two years ago, Micah Earwood would have easily faded into obscurity in any baseball team photo or stat line. Then a lanky right-hander whose fastball wouldn’t intimidate anyone, Earwood has transformed himself into Cartersville’s ace and a Division I signee.



Through his first two years with the Woodland baseball team, Carter Heath knew exactly what his role was. He was there to catch the pitching staff, call a good game, and take his hacks in the middle of the lineup. The last year, and change, has been a big shakeup for Heath, but one that he has welcomed and that he hopes will contribute to a baseball career beyond high school.



To succeed in golf, a player has to have plenty of patience and discipline. It also takes years of refining and honing a swing that can be replicated under pressure. And even when all of that is achieved, one bad hop or lipped out putt can make all the difference between a good day or a bad one - hence the stress on patience.



To quote the great American icon Spongebob Squarepants, “‘F’ is for friends who do stuff together.” For well over a decade that has been the case for Gordon Central’s Kayla Melgar, Jalitza Sarai Tituana and Jasmine Velasco. From the classroom, to hangouts, to becoming key members of the Warriors’ cross country and track and field teams, the three seniors are just about inseparable.




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Elijah Padgett brining the heat photo by Kaite Ward

Logan Hunt looking to make a catch Photo by Katie Ward

Boys Soccer The Adairsville boys’ soccer team knew it had a large hill to climb heading into the 2021 season. The vast majority of this spring’s team consisted of either freshman or players freshly recruited and still learning the game. For a game that requires a total team effort to find regular success, this season was always going to be a challenge, but the Tigers appear to be enduring the growing pains and moving forward. “We’ve had a lot of growth,” AHS coach Salvador Grimaldo said. “I’m encouraged by the spirit I’ve seen with guys committing to learning and improving throughout the year. We try to motivate our guys to do extra footwork at home and study games on film to get a better sense of things we’re trying to teach.” The very green Adairsville squad had a predictably tough season, but seems to have found a rallying point. Facing Sonoraville late in the season, the Tigers played well for a half, but surrendered three goals. The Tigers rallied at the break and played their best soccer of the season, coming from behind to notch a 4-3 victory. “That’s something to cling to,” Grimaldo said. “We have a lot of young players who will be coming back. That’s something to remember and build on.”

Baseball There won’t be any state playoffs for Adairsville baseball this season, but the Tigers are convinced that things are on the rise. Adairsville entered 2020 as a very young and inexperienced team and there was little to be found in experience or team-building when last spring saw an early end. Worse yet was the fact that practice limitations prevented AHS from guiding its young team through its offseason program. “There aren’t any excuses,” Adairsville coach Billy Roper said. “I know everyone else had to deal with the same issues. But it was tough to have a young team where we couldn’t run our normal program. We’re excited that - hopefully - this summer will be back to normal and we can do the work to bring younger players along and have them ready for next season.” An overall record of 8-15 and a region mark of 3-10 put the Tigers out of state playoff contention even as the final weeks of regular season play panned out, but there were still plenty of bright spots. Chris Roper, Braden Powell, Logan Hunt and Kyler Smith are all on pace to end the season with batting averages over .300 while Elijah Padgett has been a rock on the mound and Jack Whitley has won six games as a sophomore.

William Gonzales with some good foot work Photo by Katie Ward

Coach Terrell thinking about what to do next Photo by Katie Ward

Girls Soccer For the first time in nearly a decade, the Lady Tigers secured a region championship. The squad was well on its way to accomplishing the feat last spring, but their season was abandoned with a 7-0-1 mark when the GHSA shut down all spring sports. This time around, the Tigers were just as dominant, racking up a 15-2 regular season record and a top seed in the state playoffs. “I’m very proud of what the girls have accomplished,” AHS coach Major David Sexauer said. “I know they were disappointed when everything stopped last season. But we also knew that we would have almost everyone back. They trained hard and have really performed well.”

Coach Major Sexauer checking out the action Photo by Katie Ward

The Tigers have been led by senior captain Cat Wheeler, who will continue her soccer career at Young Harris in the fall. Midfielder Sadie Johnson is another key cog and showcases the all-around athleticism of the team as she will head to North Georgia on a softball scholarship next year.

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ADAIRSVILLE TEAM UPDATES Tennis The Adairsville tennis squads found mixed success on the court this season. The boys’ team had it rough early on and wasn’t able to make the state tournament field, but showed progress along the way. “There were some issues with illness and discipline that kept some kids off the court,” Adairsville coach Chris Davidson said. “But we are still a young team and there was improvement. We only lost our region tournament match by a point against the No. 2 seed that had swept us in the regular season.” The season goes on for the Lady Tigers, who grabbed the region’s No. 4 seed ahead of state playoff competition. “We got great effort from everyone,” Davidson said. “And we have something special with sophomore Danielle Lusian. She started at No. 3 singles and went undefeated in her matches. She was the only girl in the region to accomplish that.”

Track and Field The Adairsville Track and Field squad has been churning along and gaining steam as it enters its finishing kick towards region and state events. Kayli Hilburn has starred on the track and in the field. She won the Bartow County championship with a triple jump of 30 feet, 2 inches and took the top spot with a time of 52.73 seconds in the 300 hurdles. More county titles rolled in on the boys’ side as Trey Mitchell (6 feet, 4 inches in high jump) and Dylan Matthews (41 feet, 7.5 inches in triple jump) also took top spots. The Tigers are hoping to see a record fall this season as Christian Gough sits just two seconds of the AHS record of 2:03 in the 800 meters. “This season has been very nice so far and we’ve had some very good performances from both our girls and boys,” Adairsville coach Terry Gough said. “All in all, the boys’ team has scored more points in large invitationals than any other since I’ve been here. I’m hoping they can find a little more for the region meet.” Golf After losing a handful of major contributors from the 2020 squad, both the girls’ and boys’ golf teams at Adairsville entered into a rebuilding mode this spring.  “We only had two girls on the team that are currently in high school,” AHS coach Jon Cudd said. “We’ve been mixing in some eighth graders. Their scores can’t be counted this season, but they are gaining valuable experience for next year.” The boys’ squad featured more on the roster - plus some veteran players - but it remains to be seen if they will have the necessary scores to qualify for state. Senior Ethan Hogue has led the way for most of the season, with Jack Rood coming on strong with some of his best rounds late in the season. Cudd also pointed out senior Garrett Taylor, complimenting the progress he has made over his four years with the team. “We’re always looking to improve,” Cudd said. “The good news is that we continue to have interest on both the boys and girls’ side. But the important part is to get them started early. If you start from behind in this game, it can be tough to catch up.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament.

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Mark Brunson in the Baton Relay Photo by Barbara Hall

Embroidery • Screen Printing • Team Sports


Ellie with a kick between a defender

Lillie McBride

Lillie showing off her skills

Ellie dribbling the ball up field

Lillie with a toss

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Adairsville girls’ soccer team has a region championship to celebrate. The Lady Tigers have received contributions from up and down the roster to find that success, but twin sisters Ellie and Lillie McBride make up a core of seniors that has Adairsville eyeing a run in the state playoffs. That was also the case last season as AHS began the season with a 7-0-1 mark, but COVID canceled the rest of the season, leaving the sisters to wonder what would become of their final year. “It was a huge shock,” Lillie said. “We knew that we had a good team. It was disappointing to have to walk away from that, but we also knew that we only had one senior. We miss her, but that meant that we brought back pretty much the same team and that we could be good again.” That’s exactly what happened. Adairsville stormed through the season, chalking up plenty of dominant wins and a regular season record of 15-2. Lillie has covered the field from box to box as a midfielder while Ellie has anchored a stellar defense in her role as a center fullback. “We play different positions,” Lillie said. “We joke that we have to do something different since we play the same sport, take the same classes and work at the same job.” Their friendship is strong, but the sibling rivalry can be as well. “We always push each other,” Ellie said. “I think it really helped during the offseason. Some girls couldn’t even find someone to kick a soccer ball with, but we were training together. We kind of held each other accountable.” “And I won’t lie. There are fights. We’ll say things to each other during a game that might get us riled up, but we know that it’s coming from a place of love and that we’re just pushing each other to get the best out of us.” While every sibling or teammate relationship can have those tough love moments, the sisters and their senior teammates have also made it a point to include everyone on the roster. From organizing workouts once restrictions were relaxed, to participating in an indoor soccer league, to general interactions on the field. “I remember when I was a freshman,” Ellie said. “There were seven seniors on that team. We got along fine, but they were kind of strong-willed with what they wanted to do. Now that we’re seniors, we want the team to be more of a family. We want to have everyone be a part of the family and, honestly, I know the younger girls are going to be just fine when we leave.” The duo figures to stick with each other for at least a few more years as they anticipate attending college together. While they haven’t yet decided which college they will attend, they are looking to stay close to Adairsville and will likely make the same choice. The McBride sisters will probably continue to run into each other in the classroom as both have aspirations to work in the medical field. Lillie is interested in anesthesiology while Ellie intends to look into nursing programs. But for the time being, both are looking forward to keeping their final season at Adairsville going as long as possible. “I know I’m going to miss everyone when it’s over,” Lillie said. “We’ve all gotten so close over the last few years.” “There’s a part of the school and the team I’ll always take with me,” Ellie said. “All of the teachers and coaches here really care and they also push you to be your best. That’s the attitude we’ll take into the state playoffs and I know that’s what I’ll be thinking about in classes and jobs in the future.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament. Photos by Katie Ward APRIL 2021 |

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Cartersville Ga

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Baseball Cartersville has a storied tradition on the baseball diamond and the 2021 edition of the Hurricanes is looking to add another chapter. Cartersville had a top-4 region finish and a trip to the state tournament locked up by early April, but had to hit the gas down the stretch to put itself in prime position. The Hurricanes notched a sweep of Cass in their final region series, elevating them to a second-place region finish and guaranteeing that they will get to host their first round of state competition.

Junior Curt Bonner waiting for Pitch Photo By Sports Furnace Athletics

Hurricanes warming up before game Photo by Sports Furnance Athletics

Boys Soccer Heading into the season, the Cartersville boys’ soccer team - like many other teams - was unsure of exactly where it stood. Following the shutdown of the season in 2020, teams knew what they were bringing back, but could only speculate how much their players could improve under the conditions and what opponents would be able to put on the field. “We were definitely optimistic,” Cartersville coach D.J. Paradis said. “We knew that we had some talent and we figured that we could be a Girls Soccer The Cartersville girls’ soccer squad is state playoff bound following a third-place finish in Region 7-AAAAA. The Lady Hurricanes were younger and less experienced than in recent seasons, but still compiled a 7-6-1 overall record with a 3-2 mark in region play. “We have done well and have met our expectations so far,” Cartersville coach Chad Murray said. “Of course, as in most years, there are a couple of games that we would like a “do-over” on.  I am very proud of the girls for having a strong showing despite tremendous losses from last year, including three players who are now playing college soccer.” Golf It was a solid spring for Cartersville on the links. The Hurricanes’ boys’ squad has been one of the top squads in Class AAAAA while the girls have also held their own. The CHS boys cruised to both region and area championships, shooting a combined 15-under par in the area event to easily clinch a spot in the state tournament to be held in Columbus in May. University of Georgia signee Buck Brumlow has paced the team all season, but Jake Lawson and Camden Meadows have also shown flashes of brilliance. “Having everyone on the team posting low rounds is so important,” CHS coach Reggie Perkins said. “We’ve been playing some of our best

“We’re led on the mound by Micah Earwood,” Cartersville coach Kyle Tucker said. “He has a 7-1 record and 80 strikeouts against just 11 walks. At the plate, it’s Parker McPherson. Parker is batting .342 with six doubles, a triple, 15 RBI and 14 runs scored.” The Hurricanes will take on the No. 3 seed out of Region 6-AAAAA in the first round of the state tournament.

Cane Junior Hank Smith ready for pitch Photo Sports Furnance Athletics

Senior Gunner Milsap on the mound Photo by Sports Furnance Athletics

top team in the region, but it was all kind of a guess until things got going.” The Hurricanes lived up to their coach’s expectations, grabbing a second-place region finish after a few hotly contested games in some very evenly matched competition. Cartersville has been led by seniors at both ends of the field. Forward Joel Zazueta could top 20 goals on the season by the time all is said and done while goalkeeper Leo Betancourt has been the team’s rock between the woodwork. While a youthful Hurricane team has found its legs, Murray credits his small group of seniors for setting the right tone. Center defenders Emma Baker and Devondria Johnson, center midfielder Kendyl Anderson and goalkeeper Trista Kelly have provided much-needed experience and consistency up the middle of the field as the rest of the team developed around them. Murray saved his highest praise for Kelly, who had never played in goal before, but stepped up for the team at a much-needed position and recorded five shutouts on the season. Cartersville will take its show on the road for the state playoffs, visiting No. 2 seed Villa Rica for the first round. golf lately. We’ll be in some tournaments ahead of state with some really tough competition, so that should keep everyone at their best and in the right mindset.” The Cartersville girls weren’t able to punch their ticket to state at their area tournament, but will still move on to sectionals and have another shot. Sophomore Brooklyn Heath has led the way for the girls’ squad, with Brianna Kim and Aimee Odom also turning in stellar seasons and hoping to keep things going.

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Track and Field Throughout the spring, several Cartersville track and field records have either fallen or are in imminent danger. The 4x400 relay already has a new gold standard. Josie Turner, London Moultrie, Olamide Sadiku and Elizabeth Nelson had been creeping up on the mark all season before finally breaking through. The quartet ended up shaving nearly a full second off the mark when they finally broke the record, shifting the bar to 4:16.9 from its previous mark at 4:17.8. The boys’ 4x800 relay team of Bill Archer, Levi Booth, Sam Peters and Clayton Long set a new record in even more impressive fashion. They blazed their way around the track to record a time of 8:21.07 - nearly three full seconds faster than the previous record. On the individual side, Eric Toviave recently tied the school record by clocking in at 14.43 seconds in the 110 hurdles. “It’s been a great season,” Cartersville coach Emerson Bridges said. “Our focus is to continue to improve on times and distances every day. And with most meets, that’s what we’ve seen.”  Current results could put the Hurricanes on course for a solid showing at state, but that’s still a ways off. “We set out this season with the goal to win region,” Bridges said. “That’s what is next, so that’s what we’re focused on. You can’t control who goes from region to sectionals or from sectionals to state, but we can control what and how we perform in each event. That’s what the focus is on.” Gymnastics Kimberly Mosteller was excited to begin her first season as the gymnastics coach at Cartersville last spring, but that lasted all of one competition before the season was prematurely cut short. Mosteller carried forward, and even though just two girls made up the entirety of this season’s team, the Hurricanes are still holding their own.    “I’ve got two girls that are just incredible,” Mosteller said. “They pull triple duty, doing competitive and sideline cheer along with gymnastics. But they never miss a practice and are always ready to give it their best effort.”   Those girls are freshman Karley Garrison and sophomore Annaston Wilson. Despite being on their own against squads that routinely featured

Cane Senior Britt Mitchell racing to the finish

Senior Evan Slocum handing off to Sophmore Morroco Wilkey in the baton relay

Cane Junior Sam Peters leading the way

Mary Dawson handing off to Josie Turner in the baton relay

8-10 gymnasts, the duo managed to place in the top three at all four of their regular season events. Garrison qualified to participate in state competition trials in all events while Wilson is still in contention in the floor exercise. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament. Photos by Sports Furnace Athletics

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By Mike Anthony Two years ago, Micah Earwood would have easily faded into obscurity in any baseball team photo or stat line. Then a lanky righthander whose fastball wouldn’t intimidate anyone, Earwood has transformed himself into Cartersville’s ace and a Division I signee. “I was definitely a late bloomer. At the end of my sophomore year, I was a long way from where I am now,” Earwood said. “I weighed about 145 pounds. I think my fastball was sitting around 78.” Not content to simply sit around and hope for improvement, Earwood went to work. Armed with a meal plan and a relentless drive in the weight room, Earwood has filled out his 6-foot-3 frame to nearly 200 pounds and that fastball is now creeping towards 90 miles per hour. “Micah is a phenomenal player,” Cartersville coach Kyle Tucker said. “He has a lot of talent, but he’s also one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. He has very high expectations for himself and he does everything he can to achieve those expectations.” All of the work has paid off this season as Earwood has been nearly unhittable. As the season winds down, Earwood boasts a 7-1 record with an earned run average under 0.50 and has a perfect 5-0 mark against region competition. Earwood still isn’t projected as a power arm that can just blow past hitters. His fastball doesn’t light up radar guns like some do, but he has developed effective and controllable sink on his fastball. With a couple of off-speed pitches to boot, Earwood has built a repertoire that can keep even the best lineups on their heels while also ambushing and attacking any team that tries to bide its time and wait out pitches. The Hurricanes will easily cruise into the state playoffs as they are on the hunt for a seventh state championship. And when the state tournament comes around, Earwood will be the first-person Cartersville turns to. “We have big expectations,” Earwood said. “We see the pennants and the murals every time we come to the field. We want to add to it. Personally, that means that I’m focusing in on everything. I throw every pitch with purpose and intention and that’s how we need to approach the games coming up.”

As Earwood continued to grow and develop, last spring’s mostlycanceled season was a bit of a setback. He never let the lack of competition slow down his progress in the weight room or with throwing sessions, but a decrease in games did affect his ability to be recruited. Prior to the shutdown in 2020, Earwood was coming into his own. He performed well during a tournament in Hoover, Ala. and first came into contact with coaches from Georgia State University, to which Earwood is now committed. Over the last two seasons, Earwood has matched up against opposing pitchers headed to the likes of Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Florida State and has outdueled them all. A prolonged recruitment period may have brought more prestigious teams calling, but Earwood was more concerned about finding the right fit for him. “I appreciate that (Georgia State) took an interest in me,” Earwood said. “The more I’ve talked to them and seen of the program, the more I liked it. I really like the coaching staff and know that they’re building something really good that I want to be a part of.” As the season winds down and the importance of each game grows, Cartersville will be all the more inclined to lean on its most reliable arm. And anytime Earwood is able to take the ball and toe the rubber, Tucker is more than happy to give it to him. “He’s a competitor, through and through,” Tucker said. “But he’s also always in control. As much as he battles, he’s also calm. He trusts himself and everyone around him to get the job done. That’s what you love to see in a pitcher.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament. Photos by Katie Ward APRIL 2021 |

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Senior Jaden Smith at the plate Photo by Katie Ward

Senior Kyle Miller with a hit Photo by Katie Ward

Golf The 2021 girls golf season at Cass could easily be filed away as a rebuilding project. Lauren Hale is the Lady Colonels’ lone senior and will be the only one to compete at the region championships while the rest of the season has been focused on coaching up a roster that was almost entirely new to golf. “Four girls had never swung a club before,” Cass coach Casey Page said. “One is a natural athlete and picked things up pretty quick, but for three others, this is their first time playing any sport.” That made for a long season, as sometimes the simple act of completing a hole was more of a goal than worrying about other teams in

By Mike Anthony

Baseball At first glance, it could be easy to overlook the Cass baseball team in the Class AAAAA state tournament bracket. The Colonels enter as a No. 4 seed and their 6-21 overall record is unassuming, but consider the bigger picture. Before the first pitch was thrown this spring, it was a safe bet to say that Region 7-AAAAA could be considered a three-team race for fourth place. Blessed Trinity, Cartersville and Calhoun were all top-10 teams on the state level and took up all the air at the top of the region standings. That left Cass, Woodland and Hiram to battle for the fourth and final spot afforded to the region in the state playoffs. And to the Colonels’ credit, they came up big in the games that mattered most. Cass won five of its six games against Woodland and Hiram, vaulting them into the postseason and - given the tough schedule - making them a battle-tested team for whatever comes next.

the competition. There weren’t any huge victories for Cass this season, but there are now a few more girls with a year of experience that will put the Colonels in better position next spring. “I’m proud of our girls,” Page said. “This isn’t an easy sport and you don’t make fast progress. But all of them have stayed committed and positive. Having everyone stick with it will keep us in much better shape moving ahead.” The boys’ squad has been even more of a rebuilding effort as - through the first three matches of the season - only one player was able to break 50 over a nine-hole round.


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Soccer For over two decades, it has been lean times for the Cass boys’ soccer program. Many struggling programs were further hindered with the cancelation of the 2020 season and many restrictions on offseason training, but the Colonels have defied the odds. Cass dropped four of its first five matches this season before going on a tear. In a streak that lasted from Feb. 24 through the end of the regular season, Cass ripped off a 10-1 clip that saw it outscore opponents by a total of 41-6. “We’re going to complete our first winning season in the last 25 years,” Cass coach Justin Fitzgerald said. “We’ve competed with some of the best teams in the state and I know the boys are capable of making a strong Boys Tennis The boys’ tennis team at Cass had a rough go of it this spring as it completed its 2021 season without a win to its name. “I felt that we had a pretty good team,” Cass coach Jason Arnold said. “I thought we could have been top-four in the region, but we never seemed to get everyone there at the same time. Work, injuries and rainouts really played havoc on our season and we couldn’t recover.” While there won’t be any state tournament to look forward to, Arnold saw plenty of positives and opportunities moving forward. Dawson  Girls Tennis High school coaches always have to say goodbye to senior classes, but this spring has been particularly special, touching and rewarding for Cass girls’ coach Sydney Hughes. Hughes formerly served as the middle school coach for Cass and took on the role as varsity coach in the 201718 season, just as this year’s seniors were also making the transition. That gave her even more personal and individual experience coaching this year’s squad and everyone wanted to end things on a high note.   Track and Field The Cass boys’ and girls’ track and field squads have bounced back well after having the season cut short last spring. The Colonels have enjoyed a full and successful slate of meets this time around with many individuals standing out. The highlight of the season to date was the Dalton Rotary Invitational where the boys topped a nine-team field. Both the boys’ and girls’ squads placed third in the Bartow County championships and the girls also racked up a fourth-place result in the 12-team Southeast Invitational.  Kaitlyn Godwin has racked up wins in the 100, 200 and 400 meters as a freshman, giving the Colonels plenty of team points to look forward to in the coming seasons. Godwin also participates along with Jamara Hall, Bethany Elkins and Nubia Leo on the 4x100 relay team, which has been consistent and improving throughout the season.

run in the state playoffs.” Kaleb Speights has been the team’s offensive star while Omar Garcia has controlled possession in the midfield and the duo of Magno Moreno and Isai Romero have made the Colonels’ back line a brick wall. On the girls’ side, the Lady Colonels had a tough season in an even tougher region, but still managed a postseason appearance. Cass put up a 6-10 overall record and was 2-3 in region play, but a clutch win over Woodland at the end of March secured a No. 4 seed in the state tournament. Unfortunately, that’s where the run ended as Cass was defeated by top-seeded Grady in the first round of state.

Hedden and Damien West were both juniors playing on doubles squads that can help build up the program in the offseason. Tyler Martin was another junior who played at No. 3 singles for the Colonels. Seniors on the squad included Seth Herring, Chris Pittard, Bryan Wickenheiser and Drew Turley. Arnold commended all of his seniors for continuing to put in hard work and had especially high praise for Turley, who was playing tennis for the first time this spring, but improved rapidly and showed great leadership for the team.     “I’ve seen these girls grow so much,” Hughes said. “We hadn’t made state since 2013, but we have been growing and we made improvements this season at just the right time.” Cass played solidly all season and grabbed a No. 4 seed in the state tournament, making for quite the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of coaching and training for seniors Emily Surcey, McKenley King and Payton Tastuko.     There is similar rising talent on the boys’ side as sophomore Jashaun Brown-Whatley has racked up wins in the long jump, 4x100 relay and 110 and 300 hurdles throughout the season. He is joined on the relay team by Josh Varnum, Jakeevan Henderson and Tanayce Calhoun. Calhoun also has an individual first-place to his name this season as he grabbed the long jump top spot in Dalton. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament.

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If you walk into any team meeting and ask to speak to a nationally ranked athlete, it’s likely that you won’t get much of a response. But, if you do the same in the Surcey household, you’re going to have to be more specific. Senior Emily Surcey is Cass High School’s top tennis player and just committed to play for Arkansas State University at the collegiate level. Christina Surcey is only in her freshman year, but is already becoming a well-known name in women’s golf. Both have made some big choices along the way as they eye future success in their sports. While Emily and Christina are both fans of their high school coaches and teammates, the nature of both tennis and golf often demand more of players wanting to reach the highest ranks. “I actually took last year off from the high school team,” Emily said. “I did it so that I could totally focus on tennis. I was able to keep up my grades while training day and night.” The timing worked out as she was able to continue playing and practicing while high school teams were shut down due to COVID-19. And when Cass returned to the court this spring, so did Emily. “(Cass coach Sydney) Hughes was very supportive,” Emily said. “So were all of my teammates. This is the closest I’ve ever been with a team.” One of those teammates is Christina, who is similarly sitting out the golf season for Cass while continuing to train and compete in other events. “We really cheer each other on and are each other’s biggest fans,” Christina says of her sister. “Since this is the only year where we could be teammates, it was really important for me to be out on the court with her.” Both have been hard at work on their craft for years. Emily was introduced to tennis at eight years old. She began to play competitively at 10 and, shortly before high school, began working towards her now-realized goal of signing with a Division I university. For Christina, golf was something that she wandered into. “I was out at Cartersville Country Club one day and they were having a free youth clinic,” Christina said. “I had fun with it right away and just decided to keep working at it. Golf is a demanding game where there’s not much room for error, but that’s part of the challenge that I like.” When not on the tennis court for Cass, Christina has competed in individual tournaments as part of the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour. She competes in the 14–18-year-old division and will have opportunities to play all around the southeast against top competition. According to the Tennis Recruiting Network, Emily has been ranked as high as 125th in the nation for her class and is regarded as a 4-star recruit and one of the 10 best in Georgia. “It’s been a lot of hard work,” Emily said. “There have been tough times and injuries and times where I doubted  Travel and training for both sports can be costly and time consuming, but the Surcey sisters have a solid support system that allows them to chase their dreams. “Our parents are great,” Emily said. “There are a lot of things that they could be doing with their time and money, but they choose

to invest in us. Whether it’s getting us training or being there when things get tough, they believe in us and keep us going forward.” And no matter the sport, Hughes sees the same quality in both sisters. “They’re just winners,” Hughes said. “Both of those girls have the work ethic, the skill and the positive attitude that you need. With their talent and drive, they’re going to succeed in whatever they do.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament. Photos by Katie Ward


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Baseball Coaching in his first full season with Woodland, Matt Montgomery tried to build up a squad that is still young and developing. Some tough luck and an equally tough region took their toll in the end, with the Wildcats finishing at 9-19 and missing out on the state playoffs by one game in the region standings. “It’s a little disappointing, to be sure,” Montgomery said. “The good thing is that we were close. We were 3-11 in games decided by two runs or less. So, we know that we have the ability to win, but we can also see the level we need to get to.” Moving ahead, the Wildcats will have to restock the pitching corps as seniors threw the majority of the innings this spring. Payton Posey and Scotty Smith both entered the season with years of experience in Girls Tennis With a large senior class departed from 2020, the writing was on the wall for the Woodland girls’ tennis squad. The effort and hard work were present, but the missing talent from years past - combined with a lack of a year’s worth of training and match experience due to COVID - left the Wildcats with an uphill battle this spring. “We knew at the start of the season that we would struggle this year,” Woodland coach Beth Heath said. “But the one thing that I have seen is girls working harder, getting better, and gaining a desire to win. We ended our regular season with a win over Adairsville. My girls enjoyed the taste of victory. I honestly think that this will be an inspiration for next season. Boys Soccer Every spring sport was disappointed when last season was forced into an early conclusion, but perhaps no single team was affected as much as the Woodland boys’ soccer squad. Nine seniors departed last season, depriving them of a full final season and leaving the Wildcats with positions to fill all over the field. “It was definitely going to be a rebuilding season as we are very young,” Woodland coach Ed Guse said. There were growing pains, to be sure. The team held its own in early games, but dropped its first two matches in region play. But the Wildcats got off the mat and recorded consecutive region victories over Hiram and Calhoun in mid-March. When the dust of the regular season settled, those clutch wins were enough for a fourth place finish and a state playoff berth. “Making the playoffs was definitely our biggest accomplishment,” Guse said. “We still have growing to do, but this has been a very successful season.”  Girls Soccer It was a tough spring for the Woodland girls’ soccer team. Facing a region loaded with some of the top teams in Class AAAAA, the Lady Wildcats finished with a 4-10-1 record and a 1-4 region mark left them on the outside of the state playoff picture, looking in. But there were a couple of bright spots. “Tiera Feanny has been a great player for us,” Woodland coach Nicole Heiser said. “She’s a player who I can put anywhere on the field. This was her senior year and I have enjoyed watching her grow and improve over the last three years.” While the Wildcats will have to replace Feanny and the offense she supplied, Woodland will return next spring knowing that its last line of defense is covered. Junior goalkeeper Chloe Ravish kept her team in plenty of games. “We unfortunately just missed making playoffs this year,” Heiser said. “Like many teams, we had quite a few issues due to COVID or injuries throughout the season where three or more starters had to miss a game. Overall, I saw a lot of improvements as a team as the year progressed.”

the rotation. Carter Heath came on as a pitcher after spending his first three seasons behind the plate and Drew Billings reinvented himself as a sidearm pitcher and led the team in nearly every big category. “We’ll miss those guys,” Montgomery said. “I think we have some young guys who are ready to step up. It was just tough to throw them in there this season with all of those close games.” The roster will still have experience in 2022. In addition to this year’s juniors, four sophomores and freshman Aiden Ray, all saw regular innings and at-bats. “We had enough guys play well this season that it made it hard to fill out a lineup,” Montgomery said. “That’s a good problem to have and we’ll need the younger guys to keep it up next year.”

They now know what it’s going to take to be competitive in this region.” Three seniors - Emma Savage, Abigail Spaulding and Monterya Morrow - contributed to the majority of points earned in matches this season. Their presence will be missed, but Heath anticipates that 11 of this year’s players will return. Even better, Heath lauded the fact that two rising seniors will attend camps in Rome over the summer, increasing their experience against top competition. Boys Tennis No information available.

Kevin Moreno bringing the ball up field Photo by Katie Ward

Lady Wildcat Reagan Weightman dribbling the ball up field while Tara Garner #3 and Abby Carlsen #12 look on Photo by Katie Ward APRIL 2021 |

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Golf The Woodland boys’ golf squad finished up its team season with the Area tournament at Cartersville Country Club on April 12. The team had a good showing, but their fifth-place finish fell one spot short of qualifying for sectionals. Track and Field No pun intended, but as the season winds down, Woodland track and field hopes that it is hitting its stride. Despite dropping from 90 members to just 60 this spring, the Wildcats are still holding their own against tough competition. “It definitely hurt us to lose last year,” Woodland coach David Holloway said. “It has taken us a while to build back, but the kids who have continued to come out here and work every day are really reaping the benefits.” Woodland features one quartet that started strong and has only gotten better. The 4x800 meter relay team has set and reset records several times this spring and John Forsyth has been a standout on several relay teams. For the girls, Emmie Berry is one of the top pole vaulters in the area and Sydney Molinaro is a top high jumper while also being competitive in the 100- and 200-meter sprints. Woodland also boasts four underclassmen who have consistently put up stellar times in the 1600 meters. Anything can happen at region and sectional events, but Woodland thinks it could be a solid end to the season. “You can’t really think about who’s going to get how many points,” Holloway said. “The main focus is on putting up the best numbers we can. That said, there are definitely some people and some events where we expect to get to state and put forth a good showing.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament.

Daniel Nycum led the way for the Wildcats, firing a 75. Hayden Lusk and Knox Neal each carded an 88 and Carson Haley shot a 102. The season will continue for Nycum, whose score was low enough to qualify to play in the Class AAAAA state championships as an individual. The state tournament will be held in Columbus, May 17-18.

Lady Wildcats ready to get the relay underway Photo by Barbara Hall

Lady Wildcat Junior Danielle Thayer leading the pack Photo by Sports Furnance Athletics



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By Mike Anthony Through his first two years with the Woodland baseball team, Carter Heath knew exactly what his role was. He was there to catch the pitching staff, call a good game, and take his hacks in the middle of the lineup. The last year, and change, has been a big shakeup for Heath, but one that he has welcomed and that he hopes will contribute to a baseball career beyond high school. Looking to take away some of the strain of catching every day while also adding to the pitching staff, Woodland coach Matt Montgomery asked Heath to serve as a relief pitcher and play some outfield at the beginning of the 2020 season. Only able to go an inning or two at first, Heath began making progress, only to see the season canceled due to COVID near the halfway mark. But that didn’t curtail Heath’s efforts to be a more complete player. He continued to build himself up as a pitcher and became a durable and reliable member of the Wildcats’ staff this spring. “It would have been easy for him to give up on it,” Montgomery said. “He was already a good player for us. I can see where a lot of kids would say that they wanted to stick with what they knew, but that’s not the kind of guy Carter is. He wasn’t worried about trying something new if it meant helping the team.” Heath was given the ball to begin a game against Blessed Trinity this season and never gave it up. Woodland dropped a tough 4-2 decision, but Heath went the distance against the eventual region champions and a team ranked in the top-10 in Class AAAAA. “Pitching is all about wanting to compete,” Heath said. “It’s one thing to throw hard or be able to throw a bunch of pitches, but in order to be successful, you have to be focused and execute. You have to be into every pitch to every batter to compete on a level where you’ll win.” Heath also said that his previous experience catching helped a bit with what to expect on the mound and that the new perspective while out on the mound added to his pool of knowledge of what teammates were experiencing when they were pitching and he was back behind the plate. While Heath made his way all around the field, there was one moment where he was sure to be back at his familiar home behind the dish. Heath’s grandfather, Sgt. Bobby Knox, is a Vietnam veteran and a huge fan of both Carter and the Woodland squad. Montgomery notes that he never misses a game and often beats the bus to the field, making sure the Wildcats know they have the support of both he and his wife, Evette, from the moment they arrive. So, when the team hosted a game in which they honored the military, it was easy to select Knox to throw out the honorary first pitch and even easier to figure out which Woodland player would do the catching honors. “That was a really cool moment,” Montgomery said. “(Knox) is always there for us, rain or shine. It was great to be able to have him out on the field, and of course it made it even more special that he could share that moment with his grandson.” Looking ahead, Heath is hoping to continue playing baseball, but isn’t yet settled on where the next stop will be. He says that his family is very important to him and that he is weighing their opinions heavily when the topic of college and future plans come up. He’s also spending his final month of high school reflecting on what life has been like so far, both on and off the field. “It’s bittersweet,” Heath said. “The Woodland

Carter bringing the heat Photos by Katie Ward

experience has been a great one and I can’t thank my coaches enough for all they’ve done to help me grow. As for my teammates, it’s even tougher. Some of these guys I’ve been playing with since I was eight years old. I’m a southern boy. Aside from baseball, I fish, I hunt, I go to church. And a lot of my friends and teammates have been there for all of that, too.” Whatever comes next for Heath, there will still be a family at Woodland that know he’ll succeed. “He’s a high character kid,” Montgomery said. “He doesn’t get too high or too low. That’s what let me know he could handle everything we asked of him. That kind of attitude is going to benefit him in all walks of life.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament.

APRIL 2021 |

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A Brief Introduction to Your Rotator Cuff By Reach Movement Studio Physical Therapy When it comes to maintaining a healthy shoulder, no conversation is complete without mention of the rotator cuff (RC). The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that work both individually and collectively. Together, they work to hold the upper arm bone (humerus) tight in the socket (glenoid fossa) of your shoulder blade (scapula), ultimately forming the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint. The muscles of the rotator cuff are the deepest muscles of the shoulder, surrounding the head of the humerus and providing stability. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in your body. As you stretch your arms or raise them overhead, there is a rapid increase in forces that occur creating a significant need for stability at the shoulder joint. For example, imagine reaching into your fridge and grabbing a gallon milk. If you kept the gallon of milk close to your body, you could probably hold it there for a minute or two. But if you held the gallon straight out in front of you, it would be difficult to hold this position for any significant length of time. This is both a testament to the relatively small size and fatigability of the RC muscles, as well as the way an outstretched arm strains the shoulder. Add in repetitious overhead or outstretched arm movements, in conjunction with a weak RC, and the chances of injury go up exponentially. Muscles of your rotator cuff and their actions on your shoulder Supraspinatus muscle Abduction: Raising your arm up to the side. Infraspinatus and Teres Minor muscles External Rotation: Rotating the humerus away from the body. Subscapularis Internal Rotation: Rotating the humerus towards the body.

RC dysfunction can lead to shoulder pain and injury, which is one of the most common musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders alongside back, neck, and knee pain. Common RC dysfunctions include: · strains · tendonitis · impingement · tears These dysfunctions are more likely to occur with impaired shoulder mobility, faulty biomechanics and movement patterns, poor posture, and non-ergonomic work activities. While each of these factors are important to address as early as possible, they become even more important to address as we age. Luckily, RC injury and shoulder pain can often be avoided by a combination of rotator cuff-specific strengthening, shoulder stretching, and the modification of overhead activities like using a step stool or ladder. Reach Movement Studio is conveniently located in front of the checkout area inside the Cartersville Walmart and offers expanded hours, Mon-Sat, from 730am – 730pm. Stop by today or schedule an assessment online. 

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2021 Congratulates all the Bartow County Seniors

Cartersville senior Devin Luckett signed to play football at Concord Photo Courtesy of the Daily Tribune

Cartersville senior Gavin Geros signed to play football at Shorter Photo Courtesy of the Daily Tribune

Cartersville Del-Rio Wlson signs with Florida

Cartersville Devonte Ross signs with Kentucky

Cartersville Evan Slocum signs with Wake Forest

Cartersville Senior Quante Jennnings signs with FCS Presbyterian. APRIL 2021 |

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Cartersville senior Hayden Cagle signed to play football at Berry Photo Courtesy of the Daily Tribune

Cartersville senior Kolbe Benham signed to play football at Marist Photo Courtesy of Daily Tribune

Cartersville senior Clayton Long signed to play football at Carnegie Mellon Photo Courtesy of the Daily Tribune

Cartersville Senior Stratton Tripp accepted a preferred walk-on offer from Georgia State

Cartersville senior Manny Hayes signed to play football at Missouri Western Photo Courtesy of the Daily Tribune

Adairsville Sadye Grace Signs with University of North Georgia

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APRIL 2021

Congratulates all the Bartow County Seniors

Woodland’s Peyton Posey signs with Shorter University

Cartersville senior Garyton Davis committed to Mount Saint Joseph

Woodland’s Scotty Smith signs with Covenant College

Cass Senior Kaleb Speights on signing to be the kicker for Shorter

Cass’s Andrew Glaze signs with Brewton Parker

Cass’s Emily Surcey signs with Arkansas State APRIL 2021 |

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Woodland’s Caden McCrary signs with North Carolina

Woodland’s Jaxson Smith signs with Maryland

Cartersville Tee Webb Signs with Southern Miss

Adairsville Tywun Gordon accepted to Shorter University

Cass Senior Kendyl Hardin on signing to Covenant College to play softball

Cass’s Gracie Elkins signed to play basketball at Covenant College

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Congratulates all the Bartow County Seniors

Cass’s Kyle Miller signs with Shorter

Woodland’ts Ansley Evans signs with Reinhardt

Cass’s Matt Shook signs to play Baseball at Snead State.

Cartersville’s Senior Jaylon Akins signs with Mount St. Jospeh University.


Unless otherwise noted, all pictures courtesy of the schools

Congratulations Class of

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30 Northwest Georgia Rising Stars |

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2020-2021 s t r o p S g n i r p S


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By Mike Anthony

CALHOUN Team Updates

Yellow Jacket Baseball Seniors Photo Courtesy of Calhoun High School

Baseball Calhoun’s baseball team ended the regular season with a third-place finish in Region 7-AAAAA and had to begin its state playoff journey on the road, but the Yellow Jackets are far from a normal No. 3 seed in the state bracket. The Jackets’ region just happens to be home to top-10 mainstays Blessed Trinity and Cartersville. Calhoun also saw itself pop in and out of those rankings. The team’s 18-7 regular season record was very good in its own right and becomes even more impressive when considering that six of their seven losses came against Blessed Trinity, Cartersville or a team from a larger classification. This season also marked the end of a 27-year career for Coach Chip Henderson who announced his retirement after their last regular season game and another win.

Boys Soccer Injuries left the Calhoun boys’ soccer team behind the 8-ball to begin the season and - despite some stellar performances - the Yellow Jackets weren’t able to turn a 9-6-2 overall record into a state playoff berth as a 2-3 mark in region play left them on the wrong end of a tiebreaker for the fourth and final ticket to the tournament. “It was tough playing region so early,” Calhoun coach Matt Rice said. “We lost Martin Lopez to a torn ACL and Brandon Duran was recovering from a broken leg and didn’t make it back until the end of March. That was disappointing, but it speaks to what our kids are made of when you

see that we went unbeaten over our last seven games even though we knew we couldn’t make state.” Edward Soto led the way, scoring 24 goals and tallying 15 assists in his senior season. Mikey Lopez was the team’s second leading scorer and will return next spring, as will goalkeeper Carlos Orozco. Also departing after this spring is Rice, but he isn’t concerned about the future of the team. “I think the team is set up well,” Rice said. “We have some good young talent. And we have good kids. They’re going to continue to grow and win.”

Girls Soccer Expectations weren’t exactly clear for the Calhoun girls’ soccer team entering 2021. The Lady Yellow Jackets knew they had a talented squad, but they were moving up to Class AAAAA and - with a roster heavy on juniors and last year’s cancelation - many were starting or playing extended minutes for the first time. As it turns out, they had nothing to worry about. The Jackets posted an 8-7-1 record, but their 4-1 mark in region play earned them a No. 2 seed and a home match to begin the state playoffs. “We loaded up with tough competition,” Calhoun coach Taylor Sumrall

said. “What I really liked was how we responded after a tough loss to Blessed Trinity. They’re a tough squad, but our girls learned a lot from that game and went undefeated the rest of the way through the regular season.” Hannah Dimler, Grace Rez, Laurel Putnam and Anahi Brito provide senior leadership for Calhoun. Putnam was lost for the season following a car accident, but Sumrall commended her willingness to stay around the team and continue to encourage them despite being out of the lineup.

Girls’ Golf The Calhoun girls golf team is no stranger to playing pressure-packed rounds, having won three consecutive Class AAA state titles from 201517. During that run, the Lady Yellow Jackets’ main competition at state was Blessed Trinity. Fast forward to this spring and the Jackets are now competing in Class AAAAA. So is Blessed Trinity and the two will now clash earlier as both now play in the same region. “It’s funny how that worked out,”

Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson said. “We know they’re going to be big competition for us again, but we’re just focused on playing our best.” Kylie Thornton is a four-year starter for the Jackets and heads up a group of three seniors that have powered past many opponents this spring. However, some of the biggest fireworks this season came from one of the team’s youngest players. Hosting a tournament at Fields Ferry Golf Club in April, Calhoun saw sophomore sensation Ella Manley card a school and course record 66.

Ella Manley with Kylee Thornton, Mattie Jane Mashburn and Hannah Hollis after winning the Fields APRIL 2021 |

Ella Manley SHOT A 66–NEW SCHOOL RECORD...and won her 4th straight tournament at the Fields Ferry Invitational Photo Courtesy of Calhoun High School

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Yellow Jacket Ethan Lunsford teeing off against Sonoraville Photo Courtesy of Calhoun High School

Lady Jackets ready for their tennis match Photo Courtesy of Calhoun High School

Boys’ Golf After a solid regular season, the Calhoun boys’ golf team pulled off a bit of an upset to ensure that the season won’t end anytime soon. As teams competed in their area tournaments in mid-April, only the top two finishers at each event were guaranteed spots in the state championships, with other schools forced to move on to a sectional to try and qualify. Calhoun was projected to finish third in its area, but a solid team effort pushed the Yellow Jackets past Blessed Trinity to punch their ticket to state. “The season has gone really well,” CHS coach Roger Gresham said. “We weren’t sure what to expect. We were playing at Cartersville Country Club. That’s a private course, so we couldn’t really get practice time there, but we played very well and got the job done.” Senior Andrew Barber has been the team’s leader over the last few years, but the Jackets will be in good hands for seasons to come as sophomore Ethan Lunsford and freshman Beau Black have stepped up to be dependable scorers. Calhoun will compete in the Class AAAAA state championship May 17-18 at Green Island Golf Club in Columbus. Tennis It was a solid regular season on the courts for Calhoun tennis. The boys entered the spring with plenty of question marks. With no seniors on the roster, the Yellow Jackets often found themselves as the less experienced team. But the squad dug in and was able to hover around a .500 record for most of the season. The boys entered their region tournament as the No. 3 seed and held serve - pun intended - to finish third in the competition and earn another 3-seed in the state tournament. The Calhoun girls did even better, cruising to a 15-3 record and claiming both the region regular season and tournament championships. That dominance sends the Lady Jackets into the Class AAAAA state tournament as a top seed. “Our seniors have really stepped it up for the team,” Calhoun coach Lynn Davis said. “Sydney Wright has held down our #1 singles spot, with Emma Gallman playing #2 singles. We also have Emma Blackstock at #1 doubles and Ruby Christian at #2 doubles. They have all worked hard to make this a great season for us.”

Slow-Pitch Softball While still relatively new to the game, the Calhoun slow-pitch softball team has wasted no time in becoming a force to be reckoned with. The team was composed mostly of players from the fast-pitch team, which made it to the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs in the fall. They picked up right where they left off, powering their way to the state playoffs again. The game might be similar, but the Jackets mixed it up in terms of where players lined up in the spring. “Senior Jordan Blair is our fast-pitch third baseman, but did a great job on the mound,” Calhoun coach Diane Track and Field Many Calhoun teams were a bit skeptical of how they would fare as they jumped up two classifications this season, but for the track and field contingent, it was business as usual. “We knew we would face tough competition,” Calhoun coach Brant Murray said. “But I feel like that’s always been the case. Our focus is on improving our own numbers and we always set a high standard, so I don’t think it’s been too much of an issue.”   The results support that as plenty of Yellow Jackets are headed to postseason events. Through early region qualifying, six girls and six boys were already through to sectionals. Murray is hopeful that as many as a dozen from both squads can make it to sectionals and have a shot at getting to the state championships.   The Jackets are particularly strong in field events. Senior Carson Griffin has been the team’s top discus thrower all four years and both he and Lex Walraven have put up distances that can compete at the statewide level. Junior Jaylen Harris also figures to compete all the way to the season’s final day as he is tied for the best high jump in the state so far in 2021.   The talent continues over on the girls’ squad as the distances for Jabria Printup (discus) and Malysha Winston (shot put) continue to climb.

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Smith said. “Lyndi Rae Davis was our catcher in the fall, but now she’s playing an awesome third base and is our power hitter. Maggie McBrayer pitched for us in fast-pitch and is now playing well in the outfield and showing that she can hit.” The state playoffs were even more daunting in slow-pitch as all seven classifications compete for the same title. Calhoun was one of just 24 teams to make the state tournament field and held its own, winning a game each in both the winner’s and loser’s brackets of its sectional.

Relay competitors Owen Goble (L) and Isaac Thacker ( R ) Photo by Tim Godbee

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament.

By Mike Anthony

Barber Pacing Calhoun Golf

To succeed in golf, a player has to have plenty of patience and discipline. It also takes years of refining and honing a swing that can be replicated under pressure. And even when all of that is achieved, one bad hop or lipped out putt can make all the difference between a good day or a bad one - hence the stress on patience. Throughout his high school career, Calhoun’s Andrew Barber has consistently been a leading scorer for the Yellow Jackets. For Barber, the drive to always be better and the humility to accept the perils of the game have battled each other in a constant struggle. “It’s a demanding sport,” Barber said. “The slightest fraction of an inch with contact or where a ball lands and rolls can make a huge difference, and that’s just one shot in your round.” Despite heading into the spring as a senior leader on the Yellow Jackets’ squad, Barber kept grinding. He worked with a coach outside of school and re-worked his swing. That can be a daunting task as even average golfers can spend decades trying to get comfortable with a certain swing, but Barber saw the chance to improve and wanted to put in the necessary work to achieve it. “That takes a lot of trust in yourself and in coaches,” Calhoun coach Roger Gresham said. “Even with the best golfers, making changes will be uncomfortable. It can affect your scores and your confidence and it takes a lot of determination to see it through.” Barber admitted that some of the scores and swings he was making early in the season weren’t up to his own lofty standards. But he also refused to get down on himself and turned everything into another stellar season for the Jackets. “The mental discipline and maturity Andrew has shown is huge,” Gresham said. “He has the swing and the tools, but you also have to be able to deal with bad breaks. He has worked hard on that and it is really showing as he continues to elevate his game.” Barber began his golfing career in and around Chattanooga. He quickly developed a love for the game, but turned a corner after moving to Calhoun. Georgia, in general, has some of the best junior golf talent in the nation and the regions Calhoun has competed in over the years are no exception. Talent and consistency are vital in every competition in order to place well and the Yellow Jackets’ culture seems to have been the perfect environment for Barber to thrive. “I’m probably my own biggest critic,” Barber said. “But our team and our school pushes everyone to be great. The school asks everyone to perform to a higher standard. That doesn’t mean that coaches are yelling and screaming, but they have that belief and provide the motivation to help you get the most out of yourself.” There is plenty more golf in Barber’s future as he will head to Covenant College in the fall to compete for the Scots. Located on Lookout Mountain near the Georgia-Tennessee state line, Barber’s next stop is a nod to his past while working toward his future. Covenant College is the alma mater of his father, who now serves as the pastor at Calhoun First Baptist

Church. It’s also an ideal spot for everything Barber wants to get out of his next four years, saying that - during his official visit - he’s never felt more at home amongst coaches and future teammates that he had never met before. “It has been my dream to play college golf, but I’m not going to play professionally,” Barber said. “So, there was a lot of discussion about where I should go and how it will affect my future. I want to continue to compete. I also want to study business administration and management and maybe lean towards a career in accounting. Covenant offers all of that, plus an opportunity to focus on my relationship with the Lord, so I know this will be a great fit for me.” Barber will lead the Jackets into the state championships later this month as Calhoun will compete for the Class AAAAA title. “I want to do well, and we want to do well as a team,” Barber said. “But at the same time, I’m telling some of the younger guys to just enjoy it. We’re going to try our best and make a name for ourselves, but you also can’t try to do too much. This will be my last round (at Calhoun) and I want to play well, but I’m also going to take it all in and remember it.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament. Photos: Left: Andrew Teeing Off Photo by Katie Ward Center: Andrew having fun Photo by Katie Ward Right: Andrew and his second place finish at the Field’s Ferry Invitational Photo Courtesy of Calhoun High School

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Lady Warrior #3 Alexia Cuevas to Katia Velasquez Photo by Katie Ward

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Wyatt York scores 1 of the 2 runs against Coosa Photo by Adam Dortch

Lady Warrior sophmore Cheyenne Eubanks with an underhand Photo by Barbara Hall APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


GORDON CENTRAL TEAM UPDATES By Mike Anthony Baseball The Gordon Central baseball team was happy to be back on the diamond following last spring’s abbreviated season. Unfortunately, there weren’t many more good times to be had. With the regular season in its final days, the Warriors still haven’t found the win column, posting an 0-17 mark and an 0-13 record in a region that was always going to be difficult to navigate. Seniors Tre Williams and Harrison Benton have been solid, but that hasn’t been enough to get them over the hump. “We just haven’t been very successful,” Gordon Central coach Austin Norrell said. “We have had a couple of close ones. Our players are continuing to improve on the fundamentals of the game and learning how to play the game.” Norrell mentioned Seth Haygood and Caleb Hogue as two of his most improved players who will help as the team tries to improve its fortunes in coming seasons. Soccer Matt Wiley was tasked with coaching both the boys’ and girls’ soccer squads this spring and it was a tale of two teams. The girls had just one senior starter while the boys were packed with experienced upperclassmen that weren’t scored upon in seven games before the season was called off last spring. However, the destination was the same as both teams qualified for the state playoffs.   “We’re proud of the girls,” Wiley said. “They finished third in the region and we were one of only three teams in the region to have a winning record.”   The boys have taken a more dominating course to state. The Warriors went 13-1 during the regular season and had already clinched a region championship before dropping its lone contest. Gordon Central fired one more shot before the end of the season, playing four classifications over its head and knocking off state power Rome in its final game before postseason play.   “It’s a different story for the guys,” Wiley said. “The target is on their back. Everyone is going to want to take their shot. We have to play smart, play clean and play passionate if we want to keep advancing.”   Wiley gives a lot of credit for both squads’ success to his pair of junior goalkeepers. Both Sophie Gaither and Armando Sanchez have been rock solid in front of the net. Charley Garcia is one of the biggest offensive threats around, with supporting players like Owen Morales, Armando Sanchez, Brayan Garcia and Richard Berrios providing both passing and scoring to keep opponents on their heels. Carlee Brock and Cora Stepp have played huge roles for the girls and Wiley stated that Arely Garcia is the best defender on either squad.      Tennis A stellar season for the Gordon Central boys’ tennis squad saw continued success at the state level. The Warriors rolled through much of their regular season schedule and took down both Coosa and Fannin County in their region tournament before falling to Model in the championship match. The runner-up finish was good for a No. 2 seed in the Class AA state tournament and Gordon Central swept Booker T. Washington 5-0 in the first round. Seth Hare, Sam Holder and Alejandro Onesto were named to the All-Region 7-AA squad for their consistent stellar play. The Lady Warrior squad fell short of reaching the state tournament, but Chyler Pope made it a fourth Gordon Central player to make the AllRegion squad.

Peyton Wilson gets the start for Gordon Central at home vs Coosa Photo by Adam Dortch

Lady Warriors Soccer after their season opener victory Photo Courtesy of Gordon Central High School

Warriors Soccer with season opener victory Photo Courtesy of Gordon Central High School

Lady Warrior junior Allie Cox returning a serve Photo by Barbara Hall

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Freshman Peyton Chastain about to make a throw to second Photo by Barbara Hall

Warrior Junior Seth Hare ready to receive Photo by Barbara Hall

Track and Field One of the hardest hit sports due to the pandemic has been track and field. Many athletes first discover the events in high school and, without an opportunity to participate as freshman, many current sophomores found other avenues before this spring rolled around. Gordon Central was hit especially hard, fielding a squad only about half the size as last year. To make matters worse, a new rule limits an individual from competing in more than four events in a single meet down from the previous limit of five. Do you need a speaker for your event “It’s been difficult to figure out who is running what,” Warriors coach whether it be group, John Rainwater said. “Butfor ourcorporate, kids have reallymen’s stepped up. Our boys’ church women’s group, team has exceededgroup, expectations, thanks in large part toteam younger guys etc.? sogirls’ then need reach reallyevent coming on strong.IfOur teamyou had very smallto numbers, but we haveout leaned our seniors whobrandFANS! have done cross Brian country and toheavily BrianonPruett with trackcan all fourschedule years. They’vethose really carried the load.”for Rainwater speakers you.attributes For a lot of this year’s success to the team’s family environment. In addition a full list of speakers and pricing please to the athletes being tightly-knit, many coaches are GC track and field contact Brian Pruett atcurrent 678-755-0961 or at alumnus and former teammates of the squad. Fresh off of abrian@brandfansatl.com. dominant cross-country season, Joey Kowalczewski has been a force in distance events and has also been able to alternate between stamina and speed as he runs on the 4x400 relay team. Visit www.brandfansatl.com today! Kayla Melgar, Jasmine Velasco and Sarai Tituana are all a part of the senior girls’ group that has run both cross-country and track and each of the threeTo routinely take on theone maximum event load to earn team schedule of these points. Rainwater also highlighted Donovan Massingill athletes contact brandFANSand at Tayla Gunn commending them for leaving some of their best events in the hands of 678-755-0961 or brian@brandfansatl.com capable younger athletes in order to help the team score in other events.

Former NFL RB and Cartersville Alum Robert LaVette

Former NFL Linemen and Cartersville Alum Andre Fluellen

Warriors ready for the 8th Annual Nance Industries Relay Meet Photo by Barbara Hall

Former NBA and Kentucky Great Tony Delk

Paralympian Gold Medalist Curtis Lovejoy

Former Braves Closer John Rocker, Former NHL and Atlanta, Flames Goalie Dan Sophmore David Massingill doing the hurdles Photo by Barbara Hall Bouchard, Former WNBA Great Nakia -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sanford, Olympian Mel Pender, Former Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro HerWWE/WCW great Rick Steiner, ald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered Rodeo Tim championships, Pharr everything fromStar prep state to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament.

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APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars



Jasmine Velasco

Kayla Melgar

Sarai Tituana

By Mike Anthony To quote the great American icon Spongebob Squarepants, “‘F’ is for friends who do stuff together.” For well over a decade that has been the case for Gordon Central’s Kayla Melgar, Jalitza Sarai Tituana and Jasmine Velasco. From the classroom, to hangouts, to becoming key members of the Warriors’ cross country and track and field teams, the three seniors are just about inseparable. “It’s a special bond,” Tituana said. “We have other friends at track and school that we’ve known through high school, but we all go way back. I don’t really remember what things were like before I knew them.” With so much time spent on the track and trails, the trio have become vital to the Warriors’ squad. All three compete in the maximum of four events at most meets.    Melgar runs the 100 meters, 200 meters and the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. Velasco also runs the 4x400 and stretches it out from there, running on the 4x800 relay team and competing in both the one and two-mile run. Tituana runs the 800 meters and the one-mile and has joined her friends at times on the 4x400 squad    “Coming up together and competing together has made us all better,” Velasco said. “When you see how hard your friends are working, it’s great motivation for me to continue to do my best. It’s also great to know I always have them cheering me on and, because we’re so close, it’s just as exciting for me when I see them do well.”   That friendship has come in handy this season. Midway through the season, a health condition forced Melgar to the sidelines. Having already lost her junior season to COVID, it would have been easy to be despondent. Instead, she leaned on her “track family” for support and is hopeful that she’ll be cleared to run in the final events of the season. “You know, I’m just happy to be out here with the team,” Melgar said. “Since I’ve been out, I’ve stayed involved by working with and coaching the other runners. I want to get back out there, but I also want everyone on the team to be their best.”

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All three spoke at length about the team, including the dozens of other Warriors as an extension of their inner-circle of friendship. The loyalty shows in the demands they put on their own bodies with what they’re asked to do. That is most evident in Velasco’s case as her workload often requires her to run more than three miles before saving some gas in the tank for her 400-meter sprint during relays that traditionally come at the end of meets. “We don’t have a ton of girls who were doing distance,” Velasco said. “They asked me to do those longer events and I wanted to step up for them. They believe in me, and that helps to push me each time.”   None of the three plans to continue competing following high school, but all expressed their joy for running and plan to continue to do it recreationally while they continue their education. But while the trio will no longer be teammates, it won’t be nearly that easy to separate them. All will attend Kennesaw State University in the fall. Melgar plans to go into education, with hopes of being a Spanish teacher. Perhaps inspired by this year’s adversity, she also thinks that coaching track could be in her future.   Tituana plans to major in biology and lean toward a career in the medical field while Velasco has her sight set on nursing school. “It’s going to be great to continue to have us all together,” Tituana said. “I know we will support each other with school and college the same way we do with running. It’s been so much fun so far. I guess we’re just going to stay friends forever at this point.” -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Anthony is the Sports Editor for the Statesboro Herald. In over a decade of sports writing, he has covered everything from prep state championships, to NCAA Division I sports, to The Masters golf tournament. Photos by Katie Ward


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APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


Where are They Now?

By Matt Crowder

Before he was helping student-athletes with an introduction to Christianity, Noah Hunt was a stand-out student-athlete himself at Gordon County High School. Noah was a four-year letterman in football at Gordon Central High School, playing right tackle for the Warriors. He enjoyed his playing career at Gordon Central under the coaching and tutelage of Coaches Chad Fisher and David Humphreys. In addition to football Noah excelled in the literary and one-act teams. During his academic career at Gordon Central, Noah names several influential teachers that had a long-lasting impact on his life; Brian Hall, Michael Earnest, Scott Cullifer, Rene Hughes, and Kimberly Waters. After graduating from Gordon Central in 2016, Noah attended Shorter University. After graduating from Shorter in 2019, he would shortly thereafter begin his career working for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization, Calhoun and Gordon County branch. The FCA is “a community working to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.” During his time with the FCA, Noah feels confident he has found his calling and is passionate about his work with younger student-athletes. “I want to help introduce students to Jesus Christ and his called-out people, the church, empowering them to grow in their relationship with God and others,” says Noah. Noah Hunt is just another shining star that NWGA Rising Stars magazine is happy to put the spotlight on in Gordon County. His career at Gordon Central and now working with the Calhoun and Gordon County FCA, Noah is well on his way to becoming a pillar of his community. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Matt Crowder is a proud husband and father of four. He is a 2005 Cass High School Graduate, former Cobb County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, current freelance videographer for WSB-TV in Atlanta, and video content producer for The House at Lakepointe church in Acworth.

Photos Courtesy of Noah Hunt: Top Left: Noah Top Right FCA Banquet2015-16 Left: FCA Fields of Faith 2015-16

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Phoenix Dugout trying to keep warm during a game Photo Courtesy of Sonoraville Baseball

Do you need a speaker for your event whether it be for corporate, men’s group, church group, women’s group, team event etc.? If so then you need to reach out to Brian Pruett with brandFANS! Brian can schedule those speakers for you. For a full list of speakers and pricing please contact Brian Pruett at 678-755-0961 or at brian@brandfansatl.com. Visit www.brandfansatl.com today! To schedule one of these athletes contact brandFANS at 678-755-0961 or brian@brandfansatl.com

Former NFL RB and Cartersville Alum Robert LaVette

Former NFL Linemen and Cartersville Alum Andre Fluellen

Former NBA and Kentucky Great Tony Delk

Paralympian Gold Medalist Curtis Lovejoy

Former Braves Closer John Rocker, Former NHL and Atlanta, Flames Goalie Dan Bouchard, Former WNBA Great Nakia Sanford, Olympian Mel Pender, Former WWE/WCW great Rick Steiner, Rodeo Star Tim Pharr APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


Sonoraville Spring Team Updates By Trace Vaughn Baseball: The Phoenix varsity baseball team finished the regular season with a 9-4 region record (15-9 overall). That was good enough for a secondplace finish in region 6-AAA and an appearance in the GHSA State Tournament. Pitching was led by seniors Tanner Folds, Jax Lockaby, and Devin Hackney, juniors Trevor Childers, and sophomore Zach Lyles.  Offensively the Phoenix were led by freshman Jaxon Pate and senior Hayden Holsomback, who posted six home runs on the season.  The junior varsity completed a strong season with a 16-2 overall record.  Head Coach Deron Walraven said, “The future is bright with this group coming up.  

Phoenix after a win Photo By Adam Dortch

Senior Tanner Folds waiting for a ball to hit to him Photo by Adam Dortch

Senior Cole Godfrey with a hit Photo By Adam Dortch

Boys’ Soccer: Head Coach Marcus Palazzolo offered this synopsis on their season… “Sonoraville soccer improved as the season progressed. The boys’ team worked together and improved their skills.  The program looks to build

with younger players next year and learn from the upcoming seniors.” The boys finished 1-15 overall and 1-7 in region play.

Girls Soccer: Head Coach Kristen McGuire summed up her team’s season: “The Lady Phoenix Soccer Team had a positive 2021 season. It was a rebuilding year, in which, like many other teams, the Lady Phoenix faced adversity throughout the season.  However, the Lady Phoenix overcame every obstacle as a team, and improved individually and as a team with every game. The Lady Phoenix finished regular season play against nationally ranked Adairsville, losing 0-6 at the Tiger’s Stadium. 

Despite the scoreboard, the improvement shown by the Lady Phoenix was phenomenal. As this year comes to an end, rebuilding will continue, and the Lady Phoenix Team looks forward to what next season will hold, based off of this year’s growth.” The ladies finished the season winless at 0-13 and 0-8 in region.   

Junior Jazmine Goss with a free kick Photo By Adam Dortch

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The Lady Phoneix soccer team on the bus on the way to their game vs. LaFayette Photo Courtesy of Sonoraville High School

Golf: Nine members of the SHS golf team (seven boys and 2 girls) hit the links this year. The team was led by two seniors, Lane Worley and Tucker Murray. They have two juniors in Cade Russel and Luke White, three sophomores in Carson Bishop, Noah Caldwell, and Gabby Johnson; and two freshman, Alec Strickland and Janey-Kate King. Coach Chris Tennis: Head Coach Becki Hall stated, “We are proud of our boys’ and girls’ tennis teams. They have worked through many adversities this season. They didn’t let those challenges get in the way of making it to the state playoffs. Even though our season didn’t end like we wanted, we have encouraged them to keep their heads up. We want them to keep working in the off season and come back stronger than ever!” The Lady Phoenix advanced to the GHSA State Tournament. Starters were Hadley Harper (So.) 1st Singles; Joanna Gillette (So.) 2nd Singles; Priya Patel (So.) 3rd Singles; Reese Davis (So.) and Hannah Jones (Fr.) 1st Doubles; Bristin Gordon (Fr.) and Mollie Roberts (Fr.) 2nd Doubles; Ella Claire Beason (Jr.) came in to play 2nd doubles when needed; Karson Bone (Fr.) and Track: Sonoraville’s track team is enjoying another successful season. New school records have been posted by Brynley Walraven (Fr.), with a 1.02.99 in Girls 400m; Riley Triplette (Sr.) with a 5.30.98 in the Girls 1600m and a 12.23.42 in the Girls 3200m; Tanner Hicks (Jr.) with a 51.28 in the Boys 400m; and the quartet of Cameron Passley (Fr.), Bryson Weaver (Sr.), Bryant Blandon (Sr.), and Nahum Trenti (Sr.) with a 9.53.47 in the boys 4x800m. The region meet was to begin at Rockmart on April 26th.

Fishing: Sonoraville’s fishing team is in their sixth season of competition and is led by Coach Mike Farley. This year the Phoenix are represented by 12 anglers and six boat captains who volunteer their time and knowledge to take these high school students fishing.  The season so far has been a very good one for the Phoenix.  They have had a boat finish in first place in two of their five tournaments so far. They have had at least two boats finish inside the Top 10 at all five tournaments entered. The Phoenix are hoping to continue a strong finish over the last two tournaments and bring home the school cup.  Ethan Cothran and Gavin Stafford brought home 1st place at Lake Lanier.  They are captained by Derek Cothran.  The boat of Jackson Burchett and Taylor Mullins brought home a 1st place finish at Watts Bar.  They are captained by Jeremy Carroll. Other team

Perry says of the squad, “The team has worked hard this year to improve their golf game and saw our best team score of the season on April 13th at the Fields Ferry Invitational with a 326. We are continuing to improve and prepare for the Area Match on April 26th at Monroe Area Country Club.” Ellen Robertson (Fr.) played on our JV team this season. The starting lineup for the boys was Ian Martin (So.) 1st Singles; Zane Stewart (Jr.) 2nd Singles; Ross Stewart (Fr.) 3rd Singles; Will Dunnaway (Fr.) and Donovan McDaniel (Fr.) 1st Doubles; Jon Ridley (Fr.) and Jo-Jo Vincent (Jr.) 2nd doubles. Coach Becki Hall added, “We are a talented young team.  We are looking forward to working with these student athletes in the future. The future is bright for Phoenix Tennis! I want to thank Coach Jeff, Coach Tripp, Coach Harper, Noah Hunt with FCA, parents, teachers, businesses, and anyone else that supported our program! I appreciate you!” 

Tanner Hicks setting a new school record in the 400m at Calhoun High School Photo Courtesy of Sonoraville Track & Field

members include Logan Kuhlman, Murphy Robertson, Jasper Johns, Austin Forthe, Bryson Dowdy, Will Hall, Brayden Angle and Kaylen Angle. Boat captains for these anglers are Bill Kuhlman, Ashley Forthe, Jason Carroll & Richard Hafner.  

Ethan Cothran and Gavin Stafford brought home 1st place with this haul Photo Courtesy of Sonoraville High School Fishing Team

Taylor Mullins and Jackson Burchett with their catch Photo Courtesy of Sonoraville High School Fishing Team

Logan Kuhlman and Murphy Robertson witht their catch Photo Courtesy of Sonoraville High School Fishing Team

Riley Triplett setting a new school record in the 1600m at Calhoun Photo Courtesy of Sonoraville Track & Field

Boat Captain Jason Carroll and his boys Photo Courtesy of Sonoraville High School Fishing Team

-----------------------------------------------------Trace Vaughn, a former three-sport athlete at Mercer University, has been coaching for 37 years at the youth league, middle school, high school and collegiate levels. He has taught for Gordon County Schools since 2001 and is also an award-winning author. APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


Where are They Now?

By Matt Crowder Born and raised in Calhoun, Callie Walraven grew up only three minutes away from her eventual high school, Sonoraville. Callie was an incredible student and cheerleader at Sonoraville, finishing 3rd overall in her graduating class academically and enjoying a cheerleading career that would earn her a spot on the University of Georgia cheerleading team. Callie loved her time spent at Sonoraville, she credits her parents; Genia Kirby, Chuck Kirby, Kenny Walraven, and Staci Walraven for an outstanding childhood full of life lessons - “My parents always stressed that being kind to everyone, seeing the brightest side of a situation, and working hard for everything you can, were always the most important things and I think that really set me up for success and happiness in just about every situation I’ve found myself in.” During her time at Sonoraville High, Callie considered herself a “busy body”, as she was constantly active in extracurricular activities. In addition to cheerleading, Callie was involved with beta club, student government, Spanish club, working on the homecoming float each year, and played for the softball team. Callie began cheerleading competitively when she was 8 years old for a local team in Calhoun. She was cheering for a competitive team in Cartersville called the Devil Ray Allstars up until her sophomore year of high school. It was in her sophomore year that the SHS cheerleading team needed to fill a void on the team due to injury. Callie was asked to fill-in due to her background in cheerleading, which she accepted and finished her high school career on the team. In her senior year at SHS, Callie helped lead the cheerleading team to its first ever qualification for the state cheer competition. With a 6th place finish overall in state that year, Callie was enthused with her decision to join the SHS team - “That was an awesome experience, and I’m so grateful they called on me my sophomore year, so I was able to participate in that.”

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In her freshman year at UGA, Callie cheered for the competitive team and then moved on to cheer on the sidelines for the sports teams with the spirit program. In her first year with the spirit program Callie was one of 20 cheerleaders to be chosen from UGA to compete in the NCA (National Cheerleaders Association) nationals in Daytona, Florida. During her time at UGA Callie traveled to stadiums all over the SEC which she says was an amazing experience - “It was an absolute dream and there is nothing quite like being in front of 93,000 of your closest friends cheering on the dawgs!” Callie also volunteered at many children’s hospitals and local care facilities with her cheerleading teammates, which she always jumped at the opportunity as she had aspirations of becoming a doctor. Callie is currently seeking out her aspirations, as she is in her second year of medical school at the Mercer University School of Medicine. She will graduate in 2023, becoming a physician, with her eye on becoming an Emergency Doctor or Pediatrician. Whichever specialty Callie chooses, it is very clear to everyone she has been around, that this former Phoenix and Dawg will continue to find success! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Matt Crowder is a proud husband and father of four. He is a 2005 Cass High School Graduate, former Cobb County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, current freelance videographer for WSB-TV in Atlanta, and video content producer for The House at Lakepointe church in Acworth. Photos Courtesy of Callie: Left: Callie in her Phoenix cheerleading uniform Right Top: Callie and a teammate in her Rays Days Right Bottom Left: Callie with UGA Right Bottom Right: Callie with her medical jacket

Prayers &Support

ACCOUNT SET UP AT NGNB FOR CONNOR LUKE HAYES: An account has been set up at North Georgia National Bank for those wishing to make donations to the CONNOR LUKE HAYES FIGHT FUND, to raise money for 4-year-old Connor Luke Hayes, who was just last week diagnosed with High Risk Neuroblastoma. Connor Luke, who is in Pre-K at Sonoraville Elementary School, is the son of Sonoraville Lady Phoenix Softball and writer for NWGA Rising Stars Coach Chad Hayes and Brandi Hayes, who teaches 9th Grade Literature and Composition, along with Yearbook and Journalism, at Sonoraville High School. The Hayes family is rounded out by Bentley, Connor Luke’s older brother. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering, Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that develops in the sympathetic nervous system, a network of nerves that carries messages from the brain throughout the body. About 700 children are diagnosed every year in the United States. Connor Luke will have a long treatment plan, at least 18 months, consisting of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, radiation and more. The family said that they are overwhelmed and feeling a lot of different emotions at this time, but can feel the love and prayers the community has showered them with over the last couple of weeks and covets additional prayers in the weeks and months ahead. Anyone wishing to donate to help the family with the burden of medical payments and loss of income from missed time at work can do so by donating to the Connor Luke Hayes Fight Fund at North Georgia National Bank. The bank has three convenient locations in Calhoun: 350 West Belmont Drive near Walmart; 100 Red Bud Road at College Street; and in downtown Calhoun at 406 Court Street across from the post office. In addition, donations can be dropped off to Jennifer Hayes at Sonoraville High School on Fairmount Highway, or Barbara Waters at Aliyah Personnel, located at 355 Richardson Road SE, Suite 7.

Please if you can donate , but also Prayers and any other support is welcome . APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


Baseball ~ The All American Game Advance Rehabilitation

Take me out to the ball game; Take me out with the crowd; Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks; I don’t care if I never get back… Jack Norworth wrote the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in 1908 and we’re still singing it today when spring arrives and we are ready to “Play Ball”. Elite Baseball Performance has provided 4 arm exercises baseball players should be doing by Nick Esposito (Website at EspositoStrengthClub.com) 1. Forearm Wall Slides are a great shoulder mobility exercise. This exercise works your scap protractors, and your lower traps, which assist in upward rotation. Kind of important if you throw things overhead! ✅Key Cue: Make sure you are not substituting lumbar extension to get overhead. Engage your core to keep your rib cage down. 2. Quadruped T-Spine Rotations are a great exercise to mobilize your upper back and thoracic spine. Having a mobile T-spine will prevent you from substituting with your lower back to rotate. Throwing a baseball is a violent rotation. Using your lower back will impact your performance and possibly your injury risk. ✅Key Cue: Keep your hips and lower back as still as possible. Follow your elbow with your eyes as you perform left and right rotation. 3. 3-Point Contact Y Scap Raises help maintain muscular balance. You can make this exercise more difficult by lifting a dumbbell. Just be sure to maintain proper technique. ✅Key Cue: Make sure you don’t lift your arm too high. You should be able to draw a straight line. 4. Stability Overhead Press is a great strength and endurance exercise for the posterior shoulder muscles. As you press overhead, you must stabilize as the band tries to pull you forward. ✅Key Cue: Use a lighter band. Nobody is handing out world records for stability overhead press in the gym!


Visit us at

ADAIRSVILLE (770) 773-9315

JASPER (706) 692-9080

CALHOUN (706) 625-0662

SUMMERVILLE (706) 857-6366

CEDARTOWN (770) 749-0250

ROCKMART (678) 757-1899

CHATSWORTH (706) 695-9699

ROME (706) 235-2727

Call us today! Advance Rehabilitation is a Physical Therapy Practice specializing in Orthopaedic, Back Pain/Injuries and Athletic Injuries.

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Northwest Georgia

Rising Stars

Congratulates all the Gordon County Seniors

Calhoun Felipe Barriow signs with Emmanuel College

Calhoun Hagan Banks signs with Alabama

Calhoun Senior Carson Griffin commits to Mercer

Calhoun Senior Nena Marcus signs to play Volleyball for Shorter University

Calhoun’s Anna Grace Williams commits to Universtity of South Carolina.

Calhoun’s Brett Garland signs to play for Bethel University APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


Northwest Georgia

Rising Stars

Calhoun’s Carson Griffin on signing to play football at Mercer University.

Calhoun’s John Andrew Cash signs with Samford

Calhoun’s Jordan Blair signs with Monticello

Calhoun’s Kaleigh Rogers signed with Agnes Scott

Calhoun’s Lyndie Ray Davis signs with UGA

Calhoun’s Maggie McBrayer signs with Augusta

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Congratulates all the Gordon County Seniors

Calhoun’s Reed Randall signed with Shorter University and Jarrian Hames signed with Rhinehardt Unvierstiy

GCHS Senior, Tayla Gunn, signed her letter of intent to continue her academic and basketball career at Covenant College

Gordon Central Senior Lexy Payne headed to KSU to study Theater Photo Courtesy of Gordon Central High School

Gordon Central Seniors Carlos Escobar and Jordan Boone sign to play Rugby at UGA

Gordon Central’s Joey Kowalczewski signs with Berry College Photo Courtesy Coach Rainwater

Gordon Central’s Luke Hare going to Belmont College to study commercial music Photo Courtesy of Gordon Central High School APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


Northwest Georgia

Rising Stars

Gordon Central’s Sierra Hill commits to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Gordon Central’s Sydney Rainwater commits to UGA

Gordon Central’s Tre Williams signs with West Georgia

SHS’s Hannah McElrath commits to Northern Oklahoma College

Sonoraville Brady Lackey Commits to University of the Cumberlands

Sonoraville’s Eli Knight committed to wrestling at UTC

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Congratulates all the Gordon County Seniors

Sonoraville’s Matti Parker signs with Shorter.

Sonoraville’s Orry Darnell commits to Maryville College

Sonoraville’s Raleigh Hooper recently signed to continue her volleyball career with Chattanooga State College.

Sonoraville’s Jaren McMullin signs with University of North Georgia


Unless otherwise noted, all pictures courtesy of the schools.

Congratulations Class of

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Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


Northwest Georgia

MAY 2021

Rising Stars

A Premier Local High School Publication

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ADVERTISER INDEX ACWORTH BOOKSTORE.............................................. 56 ADVANCED REHAB..................................................... 48 ADAM DORTCH PHOTOGRAPHY............................... 36 BARTOW AGAINST DRUGS....................................... 20 BLOOD ASSURANCE.................................................... 55 BRAND FANS............................................................... 43 CARTERSVILLE CHAMBER....................................... 23 CANVAS CRAZE........................................................... 33 DAY'S CHEVROLET........................................................2 FCA BANQUET............................................................. 30 FOUNTAINS OF CALHOUN........................................ 37 GEORGIA HIGHLANDS COLLEGE............................... 17 GODBEE PHOTOGRAPHY............................................. 32 KOBE STEAKHOUSE.................................................... 12 HAZE DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATION...................... 39 HDR REAL ESTATE................................................... 18 IMAGE SOURCE............................................................ 10 MOZZAFLATOMORE PHOTOGRAPHY.........................8 MODERN IMAGE.......................................................... 19 NORTHWEST ROOFING.............................................. 36 PETTIT CREEK FARMS............................................ 14 PINTAGE ANTIQUES.................................................. 37 REACH MOVEMENT STUDIO.................................... 24 ROME QUILT................................................................ 35 SOUTHLAND LAWN CARE...........................................6 ST ANGELO'S................................................................ 16 STAR PRINTING............................................................4 TACOS AND SUBS....................................................... 22 TARASCO'S.................................................................... 22 TOYO TIRES................................................................. 16 VEIN SPECIALISTS.................................................... 18 WARRIOR PRIDE GOLF TOURNAMENT................. 41

Blood Assurance 334 Cherokee Place 770-334-3261 Tuesdays - Fridays 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturdays 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Blood Assurance is the non-profit, sole provider of blood and blood products to Cartersville Medical Center, Advent Health Gordon, Redmond Regional Medical Center, Floyd Medical center and surrounding hospitals in North Georgia. 

APRIL 2021 |

Northwest Georgia Rising Stars


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Profile for NWGArisingstars

May 2021  

May marks what most consider the beginning of summer, although it doesn’t officially begin until June 20th. It also marks the end of a journ...

May 2021  

May marks what most consider the beginning of summer, although it doesn’t officially begin until June 20th. It also marks the end of a journ...

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