Year in review:

What we learned in the 2016-17 athletics year



North Fulton still the best area for tennis

Since the GHSA began recognizing tennis as a state championship sport in 1978 for boys and 1980 for girls, North Fulton has won 39 state championships in the sport.

This year included two more, when the Northview boys and Cambridge girls won Class AAAAAA titles. North Fulton teams battled one another for supremacy late in the state tournament.

The girls 6A state tournament featured an all North Fulton final four when Cambridge, Northview, Alpharetta and Chattahoochee all made semifinal berths. Three North Fulton teams, Chattahoochee, Johns Creek and eventual state champs Northview, all made final four appearances in the boys 6A tournament.

The St. Francis girls team and Milton boys also made semifinals appearances in their respective classification.

Cambridge has no issue moving up classification

Moving up in classification can be daunting. Teams are forced to compete against new, and typically, higher quality opponents. Witness Forsyth Central, which made just two state playoff appearances in team sports this year after moving up from the same region as Cambridge.

But Cambridge excelled in its new classification this season, capturing two state championships, two state runner-up finishes and loads of deep playoff runs.

The girls programs captured the Director’s Cup and the Bears finished third overall in the standings.

Roswell area has become a football hotbed

For the past two seasons, four teams located within about a mile of one another have made trips to the football state championship.

Roswell, Fellowship Christian and Blessed Trinity have each made state championship appearances in the last two seasons. Roswell and Fellowship Christian both finished as state runner-up this season after falling in overtime in their respective state title games.

Roswell and Blessed Trinity placed as state runner-up in their classification in 2015.

Lambert has athletic success all-around, again

A good measure of a school’s all-around athletic performance can be deduced with its ranking in the Director’s Cup, and for the third straight year, Lambert has proven to be the top athletics school in the top classification.

It certainly helps Lambert’s standing that it competes in 23 of a possible 25 sports, but it is not just the number of sports that has allowed them to take home the Director’s Cup three years running – it’s also the amount of success of its teams and athletes.

Lambert won five state championships and earned points toward the Director’s Cup in each sport in which it competed this season.

Both the boys and girls program won Director’s Cups, and Lambert finished 184 points ahead of Mill Creek in the overall standings. For perspective on how big a lead 184 points is, a state championship is only worth 100 points.

Football coaching carousel comes to area

North Fulton and Forsyth County have welcomed seven new head football coaches this spring.

John Ford left Roswell for Buford and was replaced by Matt Kemper who led Johns Creek to its first region championship this season. Adam Clack left West Forsyth for Milton. West then hired Shawn Cahill, former offensive coordinator at Lanier, to replace Clack.

Johns Creek tapped Matt Helmerich of Florida’s St. Thomas Aquinas to replace Kemper.

Northview also looked outside of the state for its new head coach, James Thomson, a former UCLA offensive analyst.

Pinecrest Academy head coach Todd Winter stepped down to take over the same job at Holy Innocents’ and was replaced by Terence Mathis, a former NFL receiver who spent 10 years with the Atlanta Falcons.

Milton girls lacrosse still best program in Georgia

Since the GHSA began recognizing girls lacrosse as a state championship sport 13 years ago, not a year has passed where Milton did not compete for the state championship.

Milton took down crosstown rivals Cambridge in the Class 6A-7A state championship game this year to earn the program’s 11th state championship. The state title capped off a 19-4 season in which the Lady Eagles did not lose to a school in Georgia.

The combined record of those teams which beat Milton is 86-9, including Maryland’s McDonogh, which has won 175 straight games.

In extreme cases, GHSA can change its tune

Whether it was media pressure, the fact that so much was at stake or the strong case that Johns Creek presented, the GHSA’s Board of Trustees made an unprecedented move by overturning a call on the field.

It took nearly two weeks, but the GHSA overturned the call that allowed Johns Creek and Lee County to play in a decisive Game 3 in the Class AAAAAA baseball semifinals after ruling that Johns Creek had won Game 2.

Whether or not this will set a precedent for later appeals has yet to be determined, but for the Gladiators, it was a monumental occasion that allowed the team to settle the series on the field.

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