Fall Sports Teams of the Year

It’s never an easy call, and always comes with debate and controversy, but we select our 2020 Fall Sports Teams of the Year. Here are the best of the best in 2020.

FOOTBALL

COMMERCE · JEFFERSON · RABUN COUNTY

Executive decision here. We HAVE to go with this trio. Why? Because Commerce, Jefferson, and Rabun County were all elite programs in the state this season. Each spent time ranked inside the top 3 in the state polls throughout, and all three won region championships pretty easily. The Tigers, Dragons, and Wildcats all made deep playoff runs to boot, and had elite players on their team.

COMMERCE TIGERS

COACH: Michael Brown
RECORD: 11-2
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Region 8-A Championship, #3 State Ranking, Class 1A Quarterfinals

The Tigers recorded double digit wins for the third time in the Michael Brown era. This was the best group yet, as they won their second region title under Brown and first since 2014. The offense, led by Trey Huff at QB and freshman phenom RB Sammy Brown, as well as guys like Tyelon Brock and Dreylan Martin, roasted defenses early and often, recording 3 50-plus point outbursts, including a first round 52-20 win over Manchester that set a playoff scoring record for Commerce. The boys went on to a quarterfinal game, and stormed back to almost get into the semis.

JEFFERSON DRAGONS

COACH: Gene Cathcart
RECORD: 13-0
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Region 8-AAAA Championship, #1 State Ranking, Class 4A State Champions!

The Dragons were pretty much favored from day one to win the state title. And they did just that. Jefferson ran the table to a perfect regular season that saw them have the state’s top offense in 4A and third-best defense. Led by 5-star recruit Malaki Starks, and players like Jordan Perry, Kolton Jones, Rem Maxwell, Kam Robinson, and Kadin Bailey, the Dragons never waivered. They downed state powerhouse teams #1 Rabun County, #5 Flowery Branch, #8 Hart County, and #9 Hapeville Charter (in the 2nd round). Jefferson claimed its second straight region title and 10th in program history, and scored 60 or more points in 3 games during the season. That included a 65-0 win over Mt. Zion in the first round of state.

RABUN COUNTY WILDCATS

COACH: Jaybo Shaw
RECORD: 12-1
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Region 8-AA Championship, #1 State Ranking, Class 2A State Champions!

Business as usual for this group. The bar is and has been to play for a state title. Challenge Accepted, and Goal Met. The lone slip-up happened in Week 3 against powerhouse Jefferson. No one in the Dragons way would be denied, but Rabun gave them the best run for their money in a 28-14 thriller. The Cats had their best offense ever, scoring over 50 points per game in the regular season under Jaybo Shaw. Gunner Stockton continued to prove his 5-star status with a monster year, and Adriel Clark had one of the best season a WR has ever had in state history. Lang Windham emerged as a homerun threat at RB, and the defense and lines were spectacular. #1-ranked Rabun won a 7th straight region title, made a 6th straight quarterfinal or deeper run, and made it 6 straight years with 10 or more wins. Furthermore, they scored 60 or more points 5 times, including 70-plus twice. The highlights of the season included a big-time ESPN game against #2-ranked Prince Avenue Christian in which Rabun hosted and won in a battle of 5-star QBs.

SOFTBALL

Commerce

COACH: Melissa Mullis
RECORD: 23-13-1
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Region 8-A Championship, #2 State Ranking, Class 1A State Runner-Up

The Lady Tigers knew they had something special. They capitalized on a fantastic roster top to bottom that mashed the ball. It took Commerce to the state championship game against Gordon Lee. After finishing third in 2019, the girls were determined to get to the title game. Melissa Mullis and the girls did, and hang their caps on a runner-up finish. Star players included Carson Hobbs, Rachel Morgan, Maggie Mullis, Emma Davis, Gabbie Deaton, and Anna Taylor.

VOLLEYBALL

Union County

COACH: Anna Chapman
RECORD: 19-9
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Region 8-AA Championship, #4 State Ranking, Class 2A Final Four

Talk about a tremendous turnaround. This group started out with a brand new head coach and struggled to put up wins in the early going. Then the Lady Panthers heated up, going on a roll in region play. After going undefeated at 8-0 within region, Union won the region tournament championship and went all the way to the school’s first-ever Final Four in volleyball, where it ended in a loss to Pace Academy. That came with a #4 state ranking and a spot in history. Standouts include Haley Noe, Riley Allison, Morgan Fussell, and Saylor Noe.

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Timothy Lees
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Region 8-AAAA Championship, #2 State Ranking, Class 4A Runner-Up, Class 4A Individual Champion

It starts with star distance runner, Katherine Law, who won the individual region and state title in dominating fashion. Throughout the season, everyone knew the Lady Dragons were going to go toe-to-toe with eventual champions Marist. Law and her teammate Caitlin Schroeder led this group of girls to yet another fantastic season.

BOYS CROSS COUNTRY

COACH: Mark Hale
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Region 8-A Championship, #1 State Ranking, Class 1A Champions, Class 1A Individual Champion

It was a perfect season for Mark Hale and his Tigers, who ran through (pun intended) the competition, especially at region and state. Brandon Martin, the individual region and state champion, won his second straight title to lead the way. Teammate JJ Morris was a HUGE key in the success of the team to win it all though, as were many of the other Tigers runners.

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