The feeling of winning a championship will never grow old
Championship sport stories that never grow old
Sonoraville High’s wrestling team captured the State 3A Championship last weekend. Coach Vince Layson’s Jackets defeated Bremen on Saturday night for their sixth region basketball championship. Coach Hal Lamb’s football Jackets won their 17th region championship to tie for the all-time lead in the state. Coach Diane’s Lady Jackets softball team had earlier captured their fourth state championship in the last five years. Coach Chip Henderson will begin the season looking for his fourth state baseball championship in the past 12 or so seasons.
As noted often, my column is not a news item. It is a commentary or opinion piece. Under the direction of Alex Farrer, the news items are more than adequately treated.
In today’s edition of the Calhoun Times you can read about both the Firebirds performance for their state title on Saturday in Macon and program was impressive early and often as their athletes “hit the ground running.”
The title has to offer great satisfaction to Coach Randy Steward. The coach observed that he had been on the wrestling scene on both high school and college level for 35 years but this is his first team championship. My congratulations reach out to the coach and his team. The championship did not just leap in their lap; it was the result of long periods of training and hard work.
No one knows the future of any program. Winning year after year does not grow old. Ask any of the coaches named in the opening paragraph. While this was Coach Steward’s and Sonoraville’s first state championship, the pursuit of or capturing other titles will not diminish in significance or excitement. I wish them well.
State Championships from the past
Let us turn our attention to championships captured by Gordon County schools in the past few decades. Before there was a Gordon Central or a Sonoraville High there were Red Bud and Fairmount High Schools playing under the auspices of the GHSA.
The 1960s featured outstanding teams in our schools, recreation departments and other institutions. It was the middle 1960s offering local sports fans with the Freda Hunt era. There were other great players but using the Freda (Hunt) Glass name puts the “Good Housekeeping stamp of approval” on a level easily understood and appreciated by observers of local athletics during that time.
In about 1964, Freda and her Red Bud Lady Cardinals “laid waste” to most teams they played and won a state basketball championship.
That might have been the first state title earned by a Gordon County school. Calhoun High (a city school) had won the Class C state football championship back in 1952.
Coach Frank Caputo’s Red Bud wrestlers got in on the act in 1979 when they captured the Class A state championship.
The Red Bud wrestling program was one of prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Chuck Ruth, Denny Phillips, Les Holbert, Mike Hales, Chris Hales, Doug Wilson and others carried the load for the Cardinals along that stretch in the history of the school.
A look at the present
It was a packed house at Sonoraville on Saturday night when the Calhoun boys defeated Bremen on for the Region 6-AAA championship. This story as a whole from the beginning of the season would demand the end result should be labeled “surprise” or “upset” at the highest level.
Coach Layson’s team had really stumbled coming out of the blocks and finished the first 10 games with a 1-9 record. That point was erased and forgotten in the latter playing dates of the season.
Possibly the most important win was in the semifinals when the Jackets defeated the host Phoenix. Sonoraville was seeded No. 1 in the tournament from the South subregion; Coach Brent Mashburn’s team had defeated Calhoun in both meetings during the regular season and was looking for another big win. It did not turn out that way, and the Jackets punched their ticket to the title game. As Lola in the baseball movie “Damn Yankees” sang, “You’ve got to have heart.”
There have been comebacks in individual games. The Jackets’ turnaround during the 2017-18 season is a most remarkable story of putting a team back on the right tracks.
May I suggest Coach Layson and his players showed heart and determination?
I congratulate them and other coaches and teams who captured championships at any level. Winning them often won’t grow old.