It was a wild ride on the local sports scene in 2017 from thrilling games and performances to milestone accomplishments to region, area and state titles to coaching changes and so much more.

Today the Calhoun Times continues its series which looks back on the exciting year that it was with the Stories of the Year. Today’s recap will cover the stories for the second third of the year from May through August, and the rest will run in Saturday’s paper.

So without further ado, here are the stories of note from the second third of 2017 (in chronological order):

Lady Jackets advance to first-ever state finals (May 2)

The Calhoun Lady Jackets had one hurdle between themselves and program history on Monday, and they cleared it with room to spare.

The Lady Jackets hosted Lovett in the Class AAA State Final Four Monday afternoon at the Calhoun Tennis Center, and when it was all said and done, they had earned their first-ever trip to the State Championship match.

Calhoun (20-1) defeated the visiting Lady Lions 3-1 behind a sweep of all three singles spots thanks to the play of McCartney Kessler, Carly Briggs and Emma King.

Calhoun coach Robin Proffitt said her team came out on a mission on Monday and didn’t let up until it was completed.

“The girls played great today,” said Proffitt. “They were awesome out there. We got very quick wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, and then Emma King clinched it at No. 3 singles. Our doubles came up a little short today as they weren’t on their game, but Emma stepped up and took charge. Once she won her first set, she looked really confident and closed things out. We’re very proud of her and all the girls to step up in a match like this and get the job done.”

Calhoun, who was playing in just their second-ever Final Four in program history, advances to the Class AAA State Championship on Saturday at Clayton County International Park Tennis Center in Jonesboro. They will face off against Westminster for the title, after the Lady Wildcats defeated North Hall 3-0 on Monday. The teams will report to the site at 10:45 a.m. and the match will start shortly after that.

Kessler started things off on Monday for the Lady Jackets with momentum as she ran through her opponent at No. 1 singles for a 6-0, 6-0 win to put the team up 1-0. Carly Briggs followed suit herself shortly thereafter with a 6-0, 6-0 victory of her own at No. 2 singles.

Lovett jumped back into contention in the match with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Calhoun’s No. 2 doubles team of Sammy Bramlett and Molly Mashburn to make the score 2-1.

But that’s when the freshman King took control and shut down any hopes of a Lady Lions comeback. The No. 3 singles player followed up a 6-2 win in the first set with an even more impressive 6-1 advantage in second set to clinch the third point, the match and the Lady Jackets’ trip to the Class AAA State Championship match.

The No. 1 doubles spot was pulled shortly after the match was no longer in doubt. The team of Marlee Nichelson and Jalen Holland dropped the first set 6-3 in a competitive, back-and-forth affair, and were trailing 4-1 in the second set before the match was pulled.

Sonoraville boys soccer punches ticket to first Final Four (May 7)

NORCROSS — Good leaders not only show their true character when things go well but also when things do not go their way. Sonoraville’s Kevin Villatoro put that on full display on Saturday afternoon as the senior came right back from missing a big chance to put his team ahead in the second half of their Class AAA Elite Eight matchup at Greater Atlanta Christian to come through with a game-defining play a few minutes later.

Villatoro earned a penalty kick in the 48th minute of a scoreless game but missed high. However, he didn’t hang his head, stayed focused and bounced right back with an incredible play from just outside the top of the box to free himself from multiple defenders and bury the ball in the back of the net for what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 50th minute in a 1-0 win to send the Phoenix to their first-ever Final Four appearance.

“When I got the PK, I knew I had to be confident and expect to score and win,” said Villatoro, who is a Dalton State commit. “Once I missed it, it really hit me in the heart. This is my team, and I put everything on my shoulders so I knew I had to make up for it with a goal.

“I love this team, and I don’t want this thing to end. We’ve come out of nothing at Sonoraville, and now, we’ve put this program on the map. We’re proud to be in the Final Four, but we expect more. We’ve got to stay focused. I feel like we can win the whole thing. This is my family, and I’m going to make sure I give it all until the end.”

The Phoenix (13-7-1) advance to play Westminster in the Class AAA Final Four on Tuesday night at 7:45 p.m.

In Saturday’s game at GAC, the Phoenix used their dynamic, deep attack to cause problems all day for the host Spartans. After GAC started the game out controlling possession for the first 10-15 minutes of play but coming away without a goal due to strong defense in the back end by the Phoenix, Sonoraville took momentum from there to finish the final 20-25 minutes of the first half with several quality chances. Villatoro, Dawson Holbrook, Omar Jacobo and Alexander Soldevilla each had shots that were either saved or just missed their mark.

GAC started the second half with a shot that missed high in the 47th minute, and once again, Sonoraville gained control of possession and kept the ball on the Spartans’ half of the field for much of the final 30 minutes. A foul in the box set up Villatoro’s penalty-kick attempt, and the aggressive attack also helped set up Villatoro’s game-winning goal.

“Kevin has been on fire this whole playoff run,” said Sonoraville coach Hector Holguin. “He scored a goal and had an assist in the first round then had a hat trick in Round 2 and came up big again today. He is a playmaker. I’ve coached a lot of really good players, but Kevin is special. He does everything well on the field. Dalton State is getting a great player, and a lot of Division I schools are missing out.”

Sonoraville’s defense played a stellar game as well, erasing several Spartan chances and keeping their goalkeeper out of trouble. Standouts in the back included Alex Macias, Tate Moore, Brian Jacobo and Maurilio Segura, and goalkeeper Adam Schwartz made four saves and communicated well to keep his defense in the right position in front of him.

Calhoun wins Game 3 over Lovett to move into Final Four (May 12)

ATLANTA — Calhoun put the season on the shoulders of their sophomore starting pitcher on Thursday night, and the underclassmen responded with an outing that will be remembered for a long time by the Yellow Jackets’ faithful.

The Jackets turned to starter Davis Allen to take the mound in the decisive Game 3 of their Class AAA Elite Eight series at Lovett, and the lefty delivered a dominant outing to lead Calhoun to a 2-0 win and their first berth in the Final Four since 2010.

Allen went all seven innings for the complete-game effort and allowed just three hits (two coming in the final inning) while striking out eight to earn the W.

“What a gritty, gutsy, big-time performance,” Calhoun head coach Chip Henderson said of Allen’s outing. “He one-hit them through six. He was really dialed in tonight and in complete control. We had confidence in Davis because he’s pitched in some big games this year for us, some region games that had some weight to them, and he’s responded well. His last two starts have been a little shaky, but he definitely came through for us tonight. What a performance from him.”

Allen’s counterpart wasn’t bad on the bump either as Lovett’s Thomas Murray also pitched a complete game in the loss, but the Jackets got two runs in the fourth inning, and that’s all Allen needed in support.

Calhoun (23-13) came through with five total hits in the fourth after the teams battled through the first three frames with no one denting the scoreboard. The biggest hits in the inning came from Calhoun’s Tanner Gallman, who singled to bring home Austin Trammell for the first run of the game after Trammell doubled to lead off the inning, and Allen who singled with the bases loaded to support his own cause and score courtesy runner Nate Bonner. The Jackets could’ve done more damage in the inning but left the bases loaded.

Henderson said his team was able to enter the game with a good mindset and focus after splitting the first two games of the series on Wednesday, and they took that onto the field with them Thursday.

“It was a little weird for us on the bus ride back on Wednesday night because we knew we could’ve swept and ended it or we could’ve gotten swept…it really could’ve gone either way,” said Henderson. “But we got the opportunity to play a Game 3, and the kids were really loose on the way down here and feeling good and that carried over to the game. We were able to get a couple runs finally in the fourth, and Davis settled in and took care of things from there with some help from the defense.

“I can’t say enough good things about Lovett and coach (Lance) Oubs, though. They are a good baseball team, and this was a great series. We know it’s going to be a battle any time we run into them, and the fans certainly got their money’s worth in this one. It came down to the last at-bat in all three games, and we were fortunate it went our way. Hats off to them.”

Trammell and Bryson Davis each had two hits for the Jackets’ offense, and Gallman and Allen each had a hit and an RBI apiece. Ben King and Carson Kemp also had hits.

Murray took the loss despite a solid outing for the Lions as he went seven innings and gave up two runs on eight hits while striking out three. Most other days that would be good enough to help his team to a win, but Allen’s performance made that impossible on Thursday.

Lady Jackets’ Golf completes three-peat (May 23)

It’s hard to get to the top in sports and win a single championship, but it’s even harder to stay at the top and achieve multiple championships.

The Calhoun Lady Jackets golf team stared that in the face this season and took on the challenge, and they were rewarded on Tuesday by earning their third straight Class AAA State Championship.

The Lady Jackets completed the Class AAA State Tournament with a two-day score of 509 at the Okefenokee Country Club in Blackshear to complete the three-peat with a first-place finish by 13 strokes over second-place Union County.

Calhoun held a three-stroke lead following the first round on Monday as they shot a 257 but then finished the tournament in emphatic fashion with a 252 to run away from the competition.

Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson said he is proud to coach such a great program and be a part of another state championship.

“Coach (Roger) Gresham and I are extremely blessed to get to coach at Calhoun, and to get to coach the type of kids we have in our golf program,” said Stephenson. “State championships are extremely special. To win three in a row is a testament to how hard the girls have worked during their golf careers. The best part about winning state championships is watching the players and their families celebrating at the end. In true Calhoun form, the girls had a following of about 25-30 spectators of fans and friends (far more than any other team) that drove five and a half hours to watch them play. I think that gave us a big advantage, and it created a comfort level for the girls seeing so many familiar faces. Golf requires a lot of dedication, time and money from the players’ families so to see all that pay off in winning a championship is a great moment for me.

“This year’s team has worked hard all year. Golf is a sport that you pretty much get out what you put in, and the amount of practice time, and tournament experience that this year’s group had heading into the tournament had them as prepared as any team in the state. Winning this year makes all of that hard work worth it. The girls have been excited about playing in the first two-day state tournament in GHSA history since the new format was put in place. We have won many tournaments over the past few years so I knew we were capable of putting together one good round. I was a little concerned about how the girls would do heading into the second round with the pressure of either having the lead or being behind. We had a three-shot lead over Bremen and four teams were within 10 shots of the lead. We had plans to go practice for about 30 minutes in the evening after Round 1, but that 30 minutes turned into a two-hour practice. None of the players wanted to leave and they kept working on things they had struggled with in Round 1. Getting that practice in gave them tremendous confidence heading into Round. I was very proud of the way they played in Round 2. I knew that if we could just improve by a few strokes that it would be tough for teams to catch us, but having to sleep on the lead with thoughts of either having a three-peat or losing the lead is a very difficult thing to do. I don’t think Coach Gresham and I slept at all that night, but the girls obviously did because they woke up focused and ready to play.”

Calhoun senior Kate Mashburn finished her high school career in impressive fashion, putting together two rounds of 77 to card a 154 and earn a tie for individual State runner-up.

Katie Kauffman was the next highest finisher for Calhoun with a 176 (86, 90) to tie for 14th. The Lady Jackets’ other senior Maddie Crump bounced back with a solid second round to shoot a 181 (96, 85) for a tie for 18th place, and Molly Mashburn carded a 185 (94, 91) to finish in a tie for 23rd.

All four girls contributed to the state championship tournament score as Mashburn’s first-round score and Crump’s second-round score were used to complete Calhoun’s team score for the separate rounds.

“I cannot say enough about these (our two seniors),” said Stephenson. “Their leadership has been tremendous for the last four years, and they will be hard to replace.

“For Kate to end the way she did was a perfect ending to a great career. She actually got it to four-under at one point in the first round, but being the team player she is, all she wanted to ask about was how every other player was doing. Shooting 77-77, finishing second, and leading her team to a third straight state title is definitely the way to go out. Maddie also showed her leadership over the course of the weekend. She was struggling with her game for a few days leading up to the tournament, but all she wanted to do was work on it and try to improve. The night before Round 2, all of her hard work began to pay off. She started hitting the ball solid on the range and got her confidence back. She scratched, and clawed her way to an impressive final round that sealed the championship for us.”

Sumrall takes over Calhoun Girls Soccer from Rice (June 1)

Randy Rice has had his share of success while leading the Calhoun High Girls Soccer program, but he decided recently that now is a good time to pass the torch to a new head coach.

Rice announced last week that he is stepping down as head coach after nine years at the helm, and his assistant Taylor Sumrall will assume the role of leading the program.

Rice said you never know when a move like this should happen, but with Sumrall ready to step right in and keep the program moving in a positive direction, he felt like this was as good a time as any to make the transition.

“There’s not ever really a right time,” said Rice. “The girls have told me before that I have to wait until their senior year to do it, but at some point, it’s not going to be someone’s senior year. I felt like I’m only going to teach a couple more years, and having Taylor there with me the past few and him doing everything I’ve asked him to do, this was a good time to make the move. I have a lot of faith and confidence in him, and I’ll still be around for a little while if he needs my help.”

In his nine years as head coach, Rice has accumulated a record of 113-41, and his team has won seven region championships. They also qualified for the state tournament in all nine seasons. He is going out on a high note as the Lady Jackets went 14-4 this past season while winning the Region 6-AAA title and earning their first-ever berth in the Class AAA Elite Eight.

Rice will continue to teach at Calhoun High as well as serve as head coach for the Calhoun High volleyball and fishing teams.

Sumrall has worked at Calhoun for the past three years. He served as an assistant under Rice three years ago and this past season and was the Calhoun Middle girls soccer head coach last year.

Rice said he knows the kind of coach Sumrall is and that the program will be in good hands.

“I think (Taylor) will do a tremendous job,” said Rice. “I asked him to go down to the middle school level last season to get some head-coaching experience and also get to know the girls that were coming up to the high school over the next couple years. So he knows a lot of the freshmen that played this season for us and also the girls that are coming behind them.

“I have every faith in the world in Taylor. He’s a young coach and all young coaches will have to learn from their mistakes the first few years, but I think he’ll do a great job. He has a lot of talent coming back from our team this year so the nucleus is there. I look forward to seeing him continue the success of the program.”

Sumrall, who has taught special education the past two years at Calhoun High but will be moving into teaching math next school year, said he is looking forward to what the future holds as he takes over leading the program.

“I’m very excited,” said Sumrall. “Coach Rice has built a very good program here, and we have a lot of good girls coming back next year and coming up through the program. Calhoun always has a strong program at all levels, and I’m ready to see if I can help build on that and even take it to the next level.”

Sonoraville Fishing duo goes to compete at Nationals (June 27)

Myles Bennett and Will Pritchett have been two of Sonoraville’s most consistent anglers in the three years the school has had a fishing team. This week the pair of rising seniors will get a chance to fish in a bigger pond so to speak.

Bennett and Pritchett are set to compete in the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. Practice began on Sunday, and the official competition gets going on Wednesday.

“We’re thrilled and ready to go,” said Pritchett. “We get the chance to fish new lakes, and our goal is to get a top 10 finish. We get to take on new challenges and fish against the best out there. We want do well and make the most of this trip.”

“I’m pumped,” added Bennett. “We’re both excited to get to do it.”

The pair, which are part of the Sonoraville High Fishing Team that competes in the Northwest Georgia High School Angler’s Association, qualified for the tournament thanks to their top four finish in the NWGHSAA Angler of the Year Points. They completed three days of practice on Pickwick Lake on Tuesday before the official competition begins on Wednesday.

All teams will fish on Wednesday and Thursday in the High School Fishing World Finals. The top two from each state will advance to the HSFWF semifinals on Friday. The top 10 in the National Championship qualified anglers standings advance to the National Championship Friday.

The National Championship weigh-in will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and the top team will earn two $5,000 scholarships to the school of their choice, but all 10 teams will advance to the HSFWF Finals on Saturday to be joined by the other top 20 finishers in the HSFWF semifinals Friday along with one team drawn randomly as the ‘Lucky Dog’ winner. The weights are zeroed out to begin the competition Saturday, and the top team at the end of the competition will earn the World Champions Title.

Jeremy Carroll also made the trip to serve as boat captain for the team. Carroll drives the boat and gives advice and strategy to Pritchett and Bennett. He said he helps any way he can, but the pair already have a good foundation of knowledge to draw from.

“These two really have the knowledge of it,” said Carroll. “You’ve got to in order to be in a tournament like this.

“I’m thrilled to get to be a part of it,” added Carroll. “One of our goals when the season started this year was to go on further than our organization, and that’s one check mark there. Now, we just want to go do the best we can in this tournament.”

Sonoraville High fishing coach Michael Farley said Pritchett, Bennett and Carroll all put in a lot of time and effort and that’s what has allowed them to be able to compete amongst the best anglers in the country this week.

“These two have worked harder than any duo we have, and they are consistent week in and week out,” said Farley. “From January to now, they are on the lake anywhere from 4-7 days a week, and that’s why they are in this position. And I know Jeremy won’t say it, but the boat captain is a very important part of the team. He has spent a lot of time with them, and they have developed a great team chemistry.”

Local youth teams win District 5 Tournaments (June 29)

Two local teams were the final teams standing in their respective tournaments on Tuesday night as they were each crowned District 5 champs at the Calhoun Recreation Department Complex.

The Calhoun 8-under All-Stars won the Georgia Parks and Recreation Association Class A/B District 5 Baseball Tournament, and the Gordon County 8-under All-Stars won the GRPA Class A/B District 5 Softball Tournament.

The Calhoun 8-under All-Stars battled back from the loser’s bracket to defeat the Gordon County All-Stars twice in the finals to earn the first-place trophy. They won three games total on Tuesday to complete the successful tournament run, defeating Rockmart (15-14), Gordon County (11-8) and Gordon County (24-19). The team is coached by Jacob Williams, Scott King, Andy Thomas, Anthony Ortiz and Casey Baxter. Players include Bryson Aikens, Charlie Baxter, Jett Cochran, Will Hall, Kayden Kernea, Parks Layson, Zaedyn Medders, Jamari Millsap, Jayce Stengel, Bently Talley, Riley Thomas and Jackson Williams.

The Gordon County 8-under All-Stars completed an undefeated run through their tournament with a 14-13 victory over Summerville in the finals on Tuesday. With no other districts in the state playing 8-under coach pitch softball in GRPA, the team also clinches a state title with their district tournament victory. The team is coached by Bartt Gilreath, Sherman Hall, Kip Williams and Lee Crump. Players include Peyton Angel, Brooke Cole, Aubreigh Dixon, Ella Beth Gilreath, Lakelin Hall, Jazmine Hunter, Emma Johnson, Lila Mullinax, Ella Offutt, Ambree Quarles, Katelyn Redd, Bri Sims, Chloe Townsend, Bailey Williams, Brooke Williams and Briley Woody.

Gordon 8-under All-Stars win GRPA state title (July 18)

The Sonoraville 8-under Phoenix All-Stars have been together al-most two months since the end of the regular season at the Gordon County Parks and Rec, and they have worked hard since starting the All-Star season to reach their potential. That work paid off on Friday night as they can now call themselves state champions.

The Phoenix defeated Rockmart 6-4 in the finals of the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association Class A/B State Baseball Tournament on Friday night at the Calhoun Rec to claim their state title, completing an undefeated run through the bracket. Sonoraville rallied for the victo-ry as they trailed 3-0 going to the bottom of the fifth before exploding for six runs in the frame and then holding Rockmart to just one in the sixth to finish things off.

“These kids have worked a lot of hot days, practiced three or four times a week for two hours at a time, and they have come a long way,” said Phoenix head coach John Sampson. “We lost a heartbreaker in district, and the kids told me the next practice that they were going to come back and win the next tournament, which was State.

“This is a great group of boys, and I couldn’t have done it without my great assistant coaches too. I’m thankful for the parents as well. They never complained about getting their kids to practice and games. We won this as a team and a family. Everyone played a part in it – players, coaches and parents.”

The state tournament run began on Tuesday (July 11) with the Phoenix defeating the Clayton County Tigers 13-11. They followed that with a 13-12 victory over Gainesville and reached the finals with a 12-8 win over Bartow County on Thursday night before the comeback win over Rockmart on Friday.

Sampson said the defense kept his team in the game on Friday until the offense could get going.

“Our defense was awesome,” said Sampson. “Our kids made some great plays in the field. Rockmart definitely earned all four runs they got. We struggled at the plate the first few innings, but the bats got hot in the fifth and we were able to put some hits together and pull it out.”

Sampson was assisted on the coaching staff by Deron Walraven, Justin Clements and Marty Rolen. Team members for the state-champion Phoenix included: Weston Clements, Carden Sampson, Clay Worley, Rush Faulk, Zeke Padgett, Charlie Walraven, Houston Childers, Tucker Gallman, Aiden Rolen, Korben Baucom and Jeremi-ah Heppner.

Sampson said he has high hopes for this group of players going forward based on their unity and work ethic.

“I think they can do real well together,” said Sampson. “One of the biggest things that showed that to me is that after every practice all the kids were together playing and talking. There wasn’t anyone or a few that separated. All the kids played together, and they were a group.

“They have worked really hard. Every one of the kids has improved and listened to everything we’ve tried to teach them. I look forward to seeing how they grow and improve over the next several years.”

The Calhoun 8-under All-Stars finished fifth in the state tournament. They opened tournament play up with a 7-0 win over Clayton County before dropping an 11-3 contest to Bartow County in the second round. They then fell into the loser’s bracket where they lost 19-12 to Cartersville to finish in a tie for fifth.

AstroTurf completes new turf project at The Reeve (July 19)

The facelift to the field at Phil Reeve Stadium was completed within the last week and the new turf is ready for the start of football season.

AstroTurf, headquartered in Dalton, completed the project, which began in early June, in about a month and half last Saturday under the direction of project supervisor Corey King and senior project manager Eric Rice. Also on the project crew was Mauricio Hernandez, Antonio Rangel, Jesus Torres, Paul Stanbridge and Ciriaco Habana.

King said it was a busy last several weeks, but he was proud of the way the project turned out.

“It looks good…I think this is one of the best ones we’ve done yet,” said King, who is a 2004 graduate of Gordon Central High. “We started by tearing the old turf out, cutting it into strips and rolling it up to 60 feet. We fixed some drains and other things, and then we came out and added stone and regraveled the whole field. The new turf arrived on June 26 and we got to work rolling it out and getting everything fit in right. We rolled out the sidelines after that and cut and glued the logos.”

“This summer alone, this is the 47th project I’ve checked on, and this is No. 1 on that list in my opinion,” added Rice, who is a 2003 graduate of Calhoun High and former Yellow Jacket football player. “This is in the top five that I’ve seen in my 10-year career doing it. Grant (Walraven) and the Touchdown Club designed everything, and Corey’s guys get credit for making it happen.”

The field has a unique look with lighter and darker green turf alternating every five yards. Rice said that is what the Touchdown Club wanted when they started to lay out plans for the new turf.

“They wanted a unique field when they started with everything, talking to us and going back and forth before coming up with the final layout and plans,” said Rice. “This was a lot of work from a lot of people, from the drainage to the turf to the fences. It all got a makeover.

“The original turf that was installed in 2009 was more of the natural grass look, where this is more of a hybrid, blended system. It still has some of that natural grass look and the durability, performance and aesthetics are the best system out there.”

Rice said that the new turf will come with an eight-year warranty, and that he will come by twice a year throughout those eight years to test everything and fix whatever issues may need it.

The original turf was installed in the summer of 2009. The project for the new turf was approved at a Calhoun City Schools Board of Education meeting in late April, and it was paid with funds raised by the Calhoun Touchdown Club, athletic budget funds and general fund budget for maintenance.

Calhoun head coach Hal Lamb said the program is excited to play on the new turf and encouraged by the commitment of the school system and the Touchdown Club to the project.

“Our players and coaches are very excited about the new turf at Phil Reeve Stadium,” said Lamb. “Funding for the turf came from a combination of the general fund budget for maintenance along with funds from the athletic budget and was supplemented by the Touchdown Club fundraising efforts. The Board has been setting aside funds for the past several years knowing the turf would need replacing. The school has also set aside season ticket sales for the past few years to build the maintenance fund. We were in desperate need of new turf due to safety concerns and are very thankful we were able to help our student athletes.”

CGCSHOF inducts third-ever class (Aug. 15)

For the third time in its history, the Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame officially added several names to the elite in local sports achievement on Saturday night at the annual banquet held at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

A group of seven inductees made up the Class of 2017 and included some of the best athletes and coaches in the history of Calhoun and Gordon County Sports. The class included Jacin Bagwell, Staci Miller Banks, Casey Baxter, Ann Rogers Gallman, Barry Hall, Clarence Porch and Lynn Walter.

The banquet started with an invocation by Freda Hunt Glass, a member of the board of directors and also the Hall of Fame Class of 2015, followed by a steak dinner served by Oakwood Café.

Hall of Fame president Dewayne Bowen then delivered the welcome and introduction before turning the ceremony over to Hall of Fame vice-president Scott Fletcher. The Red Bud High School state champion wrestling team of 1979 was then honored as several members of the undefeated team in attendance, including Hall of Fame board of directors member Chuck Ruth who spoke on behalf of the team about their accomplishments.

The seven inductees then received their Hall of Fame plaques and gave their acceptance speech one-by-one.

Bowen said the banquet was once again a successful event and historic night for local sports and the Class of 2017 is another class of legends to add to the Hall of Fame.

“We’re very happy with the 2017 class, and the banquet went well,” said Bowen. “Of 40 strong nominations, these seven inductees represent four decades of great Calhoun and Gordon County sports.

“Also, we are happy about the impressive number of team members from the 1979 Red Bud Cardinals wrestling state champs who were in attendance. Counting their families we had 70 people from that group and 230 people total attend the banquet. Many of the Cardinals looked like they could still grapple on the mat. We asked Chuck, who was an individual state champion from the team, to address the crowd.”

Bowen added that the Hall of Fame has future plans that they are working on currently.

“Our next immediate goal is to get our museum finished and open to the public and start gathering new nominations,” said Bowen.

Sonoraville’s Pate earns first career win (Aug. 26)

SHANNON -- The Sonoraville Phoenix leaned heavily on its dynamic rushing attack and stout defense to secure a 28-7 opening-night victory over the Model Blue Devils on Friday.

The victory was also a milestone for head coach Denver Pate as it was his first career win as a head coach. Pate was named Sonoraville’s new head coach back in April, taking over for Jim Kremer.

Versatile quarterback Patrick Moore led the charge for the Phoenix (1-0) on the ground in the first half. After the initial drives for both teams stalled due to penalties, Moore took advantage of a few crushing blocks on the perimeter on a quarterback keeper during the second drive, accelerating past the Model (0-1) secondary for a 64-yard touchdown and 7-0 advantage.

Sonoraville thrust themselves back into scoring position after linebacker Kobe McEntyre busted through the offensive line and blocked a punt attempt. Moore proved opportunistic, slicing through the defense for a 14-yard rushing score that put the Phoenix in the driver’s seat 14-0 heading into halftime.

By the final buzzer, Moore had racked up 176 rushing yards. Due to the success of the ground game Moore didn’t have to throw often, but tacked on more than 40 passing yards. Casey Brooks, Noah Sullivan, Wes McCormick and Tristan Key all registered a reception for the Phoenix.

After a lethargic first half, the Model Blue Devils emerged from the locker room more aggressive on offense than the first half. Quarterback Jackson Couch marched his squad down the field all the way to the five yard line. However, their efforts were thwarted by the Sonoraville defensive unit, who stifled the Blue Devils on a fourth-and-goal attempt.

The Blue Devils finally broke through on the next possession as Couch was afforded enough time in the pocket to roll out and toss a towering pass to wide receiver Kidron Ford, who hauled it in for a 26-yard touchdown to cut the Sonoraville lead down to one score.

Couch finished the night with 85 passing yards on nine completions. He also contributed 67 rushing yards. It wasn’t easy for Model to find running room due to Sonoraville’s defensive pressure, but leading running back Kwalic Dublin managed to rumble for 69 yards on 14 rushes.

The Blue Devils were led in the receiving category by Ford, who finished with 43 receiving yards.

Sonoraville’s Key only tallied 10 yards on seven rushes in the first half of play, but came alive and made an impact in the second by adding 40 yards to his ground total. The running back was particularly effective near the goal line, powering through the defense for a 14-yard touchdown after Moore pitched in a 25-yard rush to put Sonoraville into scoring range in the early fourth.

With Sonoraville up a comfortable 21-7, Key punctuated the game by punching in a one-yard rushing touchdown to lock in the 28-7 victory.