BLITZ inducts 8 teams into Hall of Fame
The spring season saw some fantastic playoff runs by many local teams. The goal for almost all programs is to get to the playoffs, and for many others it’s to play for a state title. Here are our 2022 Spring Sports Teams of the Year.
Coach: Steve Cotrell
Accomplishments: 1A Final Four, Region 8-A Champions, #4 State Ranking
The Tigers went 26-14 overall, won a second consecutive region championship, and marched all the way to the state semifinals before falling to Metter in the Final Four. That resulted in a #4-state ranking. Coach Steve Cotrell continued to cement his legacy with this run, and he had a talented offense behind a trio of All-State players: BLITZ Player of the Year Hampton Hutto, Coleson Smith, Cayden Lord, and Ryan Cooper – all underclassmen. Others like Coy Argo, Landon Bunn, Brayton Purcell, and Jaxon Foster were all key cogs in this machine. After starting the season 1-4, although early, some doubted the prowess of this team. The Tigers won 11 of the next 12, including reeling off a 9-game win streak. After ripping through the region to a title there, Commerce defeated Armuchee in the first round of state, Irwin County in a 3-game thriller in the Sweet 16, Emmanuel County Institute in the Elite 8 (also a 3-game series), and fell to Metter in two games to close out the season.
COMMERCE LADY TIGERS
Coach: Scott Tolbert
Accomplishments: 1A State Runner-Up, Region 8-A Runner-Up, #1 State Ranking
The Lady Tigers shook off a disappointing 2021 finish in the Sweet 16, and proved how insanely good they were. From wire-to-wire, Commerce was ranked either #1 or #2 in the state, and lost only twice all year – both times to region rivals Social Circle. That included falling to them in the state championship game, in overtime. Commerce outscored opposition 171-19…read that again! After splitting with Social Circle in the regular season, the Lady Tigers were region runner-up. The team had started out 10-0 before the first loss, and went 14-1 in region play. Scott Tolbert’s team dominated once they got into the playoffs. Trion was the first victim, an 8-1 win. Then came a 14-0 Sweet 16 win over Montgomery County. The first road test was an Elite 8 game at Claxton, and that resulted in a 10-0 win. In the state semis (Elite 8), the Lady Tigers bested region foes Towns County 5-1, and held the lead at the half of the state championship over Social Circle before the game went into OT. Ivy Tolbert blasted home 104 goals and added 42 assists, as she was named BLITZ Player of the Year. Teammate Chloe Diaz joined her as career 100-goal scorers, and Kate Hill had 35 goals and 49 assists for a team that was loaded with talent.
JEFFERSON LADY DRAGONS
Coach: Molly McCarty
Accomplishments: 4A State Runner-Up, Region 8-AAAA Runner-Up, #2 State Ranking
The Lady Dragons under coach Molly McCarty had a goal to win ‘from the start’ as their motto indicated. The team went 14-4-1 overall, and were 5-1 in region play to earn a runner-up finish in a tough region. A tough non-region slate helped prepare Jefferson for a deep playoff run, and the girls used such talent as Abbey Eison, Ella Parker, and Carter Drake on the way to a state title game appearance. The #2-ranked Lady Dragons outpaced opponents 108-15, and Eison (33 goals) and Parker (21 goals) led the offense. The defense was phenomenal, and Jefferson reeled off eight straight wins early in the season. In the postseason, the Lady Dragons went through Hapeville Charter 11-0 in the first round, Columbus 2-1 on the road in the Sweet 16, Luella 10-0 on the road in the Elite 8, and Northwest Whitfield 5-0 again on the road in the Final 4. Marist defeated Jefferson 1-0 in overtime in the title game.
TOWNS COUNTY LADY INDIANS
Coach: Clay Livingston
Accomplishments: 1A Public State Final Four, #3 State Ranking
The Lady Indians made it back-to-back to the Final Four, falling eventually to region foes Commerce in the semifinal round. It was a stellar output for the team throughout 2022, which went 14-5-1 overall, and outscored their opponents 75-38. Players like Rylie Livingston (defensive leader, seven shutouts) helped the team hold a 1.75 goals against average. Sarah Shook finished with 14 goals and eight assists, Bazya Smith had six goals and 16 assists, and Miranda Spain had eight goals and 14 assists. The Lady Indians were unbeaten the first eight matches, and were on the road for the entire playoffs. Towns took down Armuchee in the first round of state. That was followed by another road win, 5-0, over Treutlen in the Sweet 16. In the Elite 8, the girls won 1-0 over Academy for Classical Education (ACE), advancing to the semifinals. A 5-1 loss to Commerce ended the historic run.
COMMERCE LADY TIGERS
Coach: Charlie Smith
Accomplishments: 1A Public Final 4, Region 8-A Runner-Up, #3 State Ranking
Commerce girls tennis had a spectacular run, as #1 singles player Kamden Cotton was brilliant, along with BLITZ Player of the Year Carson Hobbs, who went 19-0 overall. The Lady Tigers were region runner-up in 8-A, and in the playoffs blasted their way to a Final Four appearance and #3 state ranking.
RABUN COUNTY LADY WILDCATS
Coach: Bryan Getty
Record: 6-1 (known record)
Accomplishments: 2A State Final 4, Region 8-AA Champions, #4 State Ranking
Rabun County’s girls tennis team had a historic season, complete with a Final Four run under coach Bryan Getty. The team earned a region championship, and were ranked #4 in the state on the way to the semifinals before falling to Lovett in that Final Four match.
Coach: Dawson Bryan
Accomplishments: 4A State Final 4, #4 State Ranking
Talk about a team that welcomed the opportunity to play on the road! The Jefferson Dragons under coach Dawson Bryan went 15-10, which is definitely respectable. However, when the stage got bigger, the team played better. Jefferson opened the state tournament with a 4-1 road win at Druid Hills, then took down West Laurens on the road in a slim 3-2 outcome. In the quarterfinals, the Dragons won 3-0 at NW Whitfield before falling at Columbus in the Final 4. Aaron Eason at #1 singles went 14-9, and Luke Forrester and Nick Yath combined to go 7-2. Roman Smith and Grant Morrow were 10-4 together, and the team played so well down the stretch.
GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
JEFFERSON LADY DRAGONS
Coach: Timothy Lees
Accomplishments: 4A State Runner-Up, Region 8-AAAA Champions, #2 State Ranking
This team was loaded with talent. It truly starts and ends with the dynamic duo of seniors Jada Pittman (BLITZ Athlete of the Year) and Katherine Law (BLITZ XC Runner of the Year). The Lady Dragons secured 10 region titles (individuals + relay teams), cruising to the team championship. Pittman, who secured an individual state title at the 4A Championships, led Jefferson to a state runner-up finish to Marist. The Lady Dragons had eight events at state in which they placed in the top five.