I have officially survived another summer in Lake Country.
I don’t mean that to sound derogatory toward anything I did this summer. This was easily my busiest summer since becoming the sports editor at Lake Oconee News, so I didn’t have much to complain about while school was out.
However, things considerably slow down between May and August. Those two months give me an opportunity to check out the happenings at our local recreation departments, which is always a cool time, but, on the whole, I don’t have as much going on as I do during the school year.
We’ve reached August and school is back in session. I had plans for this week’s column to solely focus on the school year ahead. I’m still going to discuss that, but there was some statewide sports news that broke over the past week that I want to talk about, too.
So, let’s get into it.
– A promising 2019-20
This is going to be a successful school year for all of Lake Country’s sports teams.
We had multiple state champions last year (Morgan boys basketball, Lake Oconee Academy golf), one state runner-up (LOA boys soccer) and numerous playoff teams, including a few that advanced deep into the postseason.
Now, I won’t say we’re going to have more than one state champion again, simply because there was a lot of talent that recently graduated. Each of our schools will have teams that must adjust to different rosters.
But I do expect this to be a fruitful year.
Don’t take this as me showing favoritism, please, but I do think LOA stands to have the best year across the board, considering the fact most of its teams return many starters. This year’s LOA seniors have all played since their freshman year (LOA’s first at the varsity level) and bring loads of experience. This could be the year of the Titans.
Elsewhere, I expect big things again out of the basketball teams at Morgan County and Greene County. Each school lost a wealth of basketball talent, but they’ve got good coaches and many of the rising seniors and juniors have been around a while.
Morgan softball could be poised for a breakout season. It lost a handful of great players to graduation, but what was once a young team is now an experienced one.
As a whole, I think we’re in for an exciting football season, too.
Nathanael Greene Academy returns all but three players, so the Patriots are coming in with a lot of experience. Greene County will have a hard time replacing some of its key seniors from last year, but you’d be crazy to think Larry Milligan and his staff won’t get the current roster rolling at some point this season. Finally, Morgan comes into this year with a ton of seasoned players. Bill Corry Stadium will be the site of a lot of excitement.
If I didn’t mention a particular team, it was in no way a slight against it. I could write all day about the high hopes I’ve got for our sports teams this year, but I promised I would mention a couple of other topics.
– Cox’s dismissal isn’t killer
I can’t believe I actually wrote that. I was routinely impressed by Brenton Cox during last year’s Georgia football season. Still, I think there’s plenty of reason for optimism despite his reported dismissal from the program.
As of press time, we don’t know the reason for Kirby Smart removing Cox from the team. What we do know is Cox was arrested for marijuana possession in April.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, this year marks the first time Georgia’s roster includes players who were only recruited to Athens by Smart and his staff. That’s right – the Mark Richt era is officially officially over.
Smart and Co. have routinely brought in talented linebackers. That softens the blow of losing someone as talented as Cox. It sucks to lose a talented player, but Georgia’s got a cupboard full of them.
– Braves are set to compete
What a performance by Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos at last week’s trade deadline.
He landed a group of relief pitchers, including elite closer Shane Greene. I know this past weekend was a rough introduction of those players to Braves Country, but I’m willing to chalk it up to an adjustment period for now. I’m willing to bet the last couple of outings for Greene will just be a blip on the map.
As if the deadline moves weren’t enough encouragement, the Braves also got rid of Kevin Gausman via a waiver claim. Gausman is a good pitcher but he was wildly inconsistent this year. I’ve had an inkling for weeks that Mike Foltynewicz would return to the majors and solidify himself as the Braves’ fifth starter. He’s got that opportunity now.
I believe these moves could be the final pieces the Braves need to seriously contend for the World Series.
Not in a few years. Not when so and so gets called up.