EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a five-part series chronicling the sports milestones and accomplishments of each of the five Cherokee County schools for the past school year.
A number of firsts marked Gaylesville's 2016-17 sports season.
Before the school year began, Trojan football coach Kyle Garmon was one of seven honorees chosen by the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association as a 2016 “Making A Difference” award recipient. The award was established in 2011 to recognize individuals who go beyond their normal duties as a coach, teacher or administrator to make a positive impact in their schools and communities.
Garmon and six other other recipients were recognized at the championship coaches banquet at the Renaissance Montgomery Convention Center on July 22 to close out the AHSAA’s annual summer conference and All-Star Sports Week.
Garmon went on to lead the Trojans to a 3-7 record in 2016. Their wins came over Section, Jacksonville Christian and Alabama School for the Deaf.
After the season, senior Landon Lawson was selected to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 1A All-State Football Team. He earned a second-team selection on the defensive line after posting 60 tackles, including six for lost yardage with four sacks.
In basketball, Gaylesville officially opened its $1.8 million dollar gym to the public on Nov. 14, 2016. All four Trojan teams won their contests over visiting Georgia School for the Deaf, capped by the varsity girls' 62-48 victory and the boys’ 53-13 thrashing in the final game of the night.
Sophomore guard Savannah Coker led three Lady Trojans in double figures. She finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and a pair of steals. Freshman guard Adriana Valencia added 17 points, 12 boards and seven steals. Sophomore guard Haley Woods contributed 14 points and five boards.
After spotting the Lady Tigers an early eight-point advantage, Gaylesville came back to tie the game at 15 at the end of the first quarter. From there, the Lady Trojans built a 33-24 advantage at the break and held a 46-40 lead after three quarters.
Gaylesville went on a 16-8 run in the fourth for the final.
In the nightcap, sophomore guard Brayden Stordahl led the Trojans with 16 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Senior guard Austin Slayton added 13 points, four boards and two assists. Senior guards Rhett Maddux and Austin Stordahl finished with seven and six points respectively. Austin Stordahl also grabbed six rebounds, dished out five assists and had three steals.
Gaylesville led throughout the contest. The Trojans held a 12-5 advantage at the end of the first quarter and built a 30-10 lead at halftime. Gaylesville led 47-13 at the end of three quarters.
About a month after its official opening, the Trojans' new gym was the host site for the 2016 Cherokee County Basketball Invitational. The tournament featured 20 boys and girls basketball contests the weekend before Christmas. Sand Rock won the girls' tournament with a 49-46 victory over Spring Garden. Chattooga (Ga.) claimed the boys' title with a 70-50 victory over Collinsville.
The Lady Trojans went on to finish their basketball season with a 6-18 record, led by Coker's 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, two steals and an assist per game. Coker was selected to the All-Cherokee County team.
The Trojan boys finished with a 9-15 mark. Slayton and Austin Stordahl were selected all-county. Slayton averaged 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and a steal. Austin Stordahl tallied 10.2 points, 2.8 boards, 2.6 assists, 2.5 steals and a blocked shot per contest.
After basketball season ended, Gaylesville's softball team finished with an 11-25 record. Sophomore shortstop/pitcher Madelyn Mitchell and eighth grade pitcher/first baseman Malaya Shireman were selected all-county. Mitchell maintained a .343 batting average with 11 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 27 stolen bases, 13 walks, 20 runs and 27 RBIs. Shireman batted .319 with 10 doubles, four triples, 11 walks, 12 runs scored and 21 RBIs.
In baseball, Gaylesville finished runner-up in the Cherokee County Tournament and went on to earn its first playoff appearance since 2004. The Trojans finished runner-up to Cedar Bluff in Class 1A, Area 14 and clinched a first-round playoff berth against South Lamar. Gaylesville's season ended at 15-10.
The Trojans had three all-county selections in senior shortstop/pitcher Austin Stordahl, outfielder/pitcher Lawson and senior pitcher/infielder Brandon Crane.
Austin Stordahl batted .575 with 10 doubles, three triples, a home run, nine walks, nine stolen bases, eight hit-by-pitches, 37 runs scored and 34 RBIs. He also went 3-1 on the mound with a 1.97 ERA. Lawson batted .324 with a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, nine stolen bases, 15 runs and 22 RBIs. Crane compiled a 2-2 record with a save and a 2.94 ERA. He also batted .460 with nine doubles, two home runs, eight walks, 29 runs and 33 RBIs.
Following the season, Austin Stordahl signed a baseball scholarship with Mississippi University for Women. The co-ed school will field its first baseball team in 2018.