State titles, standout athletes highlight year’s sports roster
Local basketball teams capture titles
The 2018-19 basketball season was a strong year for local teams.
The Milton boys captured their second Region 5-AAAAAAA title in three years Feb. 8 by downing West Forsyth in the region tournament final. Milton compiled a 20-8 overall season record but were beaten in the first round of the state tournament.
The Roswell boys and girls teams had deep runs in the state tournament with both squads reaching the quarterfinals in March. The boys, who captured the Region 5-AAAAAAA title, went 24-6 overall and the girls compiled a 21-9 mark.
St. Francis’ boys and girls team each swept the Region 6-A tournaments.
The boys team earned its first region title after making three straight appearances in the region tournament finals.
In the state tournament, the Knights downed Pinecrest Academy and Savannah Country Day to set up their fourth matchup with region rivals Mt. Bethel, whom the Knights had beaten earlier to earn the region title. St. Francis earned another close win over its region rivals and downed Eagles Landing Christian Academy for the Class-A Private state championship.
After continuing their region title streak, the girls team reached the Final Four of the state tournament for the seventh straight year.
Centennial swim and dive earns state championship
Centennial girls swim and dive captured the program’s first state championship in February, besting Alpharetta by 66 points for the title.
The Knights’ Elly Deas, Tessa Sergile, Katharine Ward and Medline Singletary teamed up for state titles in the 200- and 400-yard medley relay, Deas won the 100-yard backstroke state title and Singletary was first in the 500-yard freestyle to lead Centennial.
Alpharetta also had a strong showing at the state meet with the girls placing second and the boys finishing third in team scores.
Milton girls lacrosse continues dynasty
Milton girls lacrosse had another dominant season and captured the program’s third straight and 13th overall state championship in May.
The Eagles went 22-1 overall in 2019 and notched wins over some of the top lacrosse programs in the country. Milton outscored their opponents by an average of 13 goals per game and downed Mill Creek 20-7 in the state finals May 18.
Milton has not lost to an in-state opponent since the 2016 state finals.
Blessed Trinity’s CJ Abrams drafted by Padres
Blessed Trinity graduate CJ Abrams was drafted 6th overall in the MLB Draft June 3, landing the Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year with the San Diego Padres.
Draft pundits noted Abrams’ speed, which allowed him to compile 100 steals with Blessed Trinity. They also gave him high marks for his success at the plate, consistent fielding and ability to make quick throws.
Abrams compiled a .418 career average in 538 plate appearance for the Titans with 100 RBIs, 33 doubles, 15 triples and eight home runs. During his senior season, Abrams hit 23 extra-base hits in BT’s challenging schedule.
Abrams signed with the Padres organization and immediately had a significant impact in the minors. He had the highest average (.401) in the Rookie Arizona League in 32 games played. Abrams had 22 RBIs, 23 extra-base hits and stole 14 bases.
Abrams also appeared in two games in the A league with the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
Alpharetta boys track and field stands atop podium
A year after coming up just short of the Class 6A team state championship, Alpharetta secured its first state title in May.
The Raiders’ championship was led by its 4x400 “A” team of Errol Williams, Jaden Slocum, Austin Joyner, Derek Davis, Kent Cherry and Robbie Ruppel who captured the state title in the 4x400 relay. Joshua Flynn, Dane Motley, Kylen Crosby, Jackson Frizzell, Nicholas Haven and Arat Joanico placed third as Alpharetta’s “B” team.
Jamal Ellis was third in discuss and Ruppel was state runner-up in the 400-meter to add to Alpharetta’s points total.
New athletic directors take over at Alpharetta, Roswell
Alpharetta and Roswell had new athletic directors take over to begin the 2019-20 season.
Dustin Rennspies was named the new athletic director at Alpharetta after Dan Devine left to coach football at Etowah.
Rennspies came to Alpharetta after serving as an assistant coach for Milton’s baseball team. He was a former head coach at West Hall and played for the Atlanta Braves’ and Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor league affiliates.
Roswell promoted from within its school walls and named head baseball coach Ben Sutter its new athletic director over the summer break.
Sutter has worked at Roswell for 15 years, beginning as a paraprofessional and with the school’s special education department.
Milton football travels to play in California
Milton became the first Georgia high school football team to play a game in the Golden State when the Eagles took on California’s JSerra Catholic Sept. 14.
Milton transported 82 players, its entire coaching staff, support personnel and parents to take in the sights and sounds of southern California ahead of their game. The Eagles spent time on Venice Beach, toured UCLA and held a tailgate party.
Milton took a tight loss in the contest to nationally ranked JSerra, but head coach Adam Clack called the game a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience his players will remember forever.
GHSA announces region realignments
The GHSA shook up the local athletics landscape in November by announcing the new region alignments for schools beginning in the 2019-20 season. The move has significant implications for local public schools.
Alpharetta will make the jump from Class 6A to 7A and will be placed in Region 5 along with Milton and Roswell. The North Fulton teams will compete against Cherokee, Etowah and Woodstock.
While Centennial will still play in Region 7-AAAAAA, they will have some new opponents. North Atlanta, Pope, Northview and Dunwoody will be replaced by Creekview, River Ridge, Riverwood and Sequoyah. Centennial’s fellow North Fulton schools — Cambridge, Chattahoochee and Johns Creek remain in the region.
King’s Ridge, St. Francis and Fellowship Christian will continue to play in Region 6-A, but the grouping will no longer be subdivided into subregions. The North Fulton schools will compete with Pinecrest Academy and region newcomer Lakeview Academy.
Blessed Trinity football three-peats
Blessed Trinity football continued its championships way Dec. 14 with the program’s third consecutive state title.
The Titans entered the season with a new defensive coaching staff and loads of new starters but remained one of the top teams in the state. The Titans went 9-1 in the regular season and ran the table in Region 7-AAAA play with close wins over three ranked teams, Marist, Denmark and Flowery Branch. BT’s region title was its sixth in seven years.
The Titans won their opening three games of the playoffs in decisive fashion before taking on Woodward Academy, the only team to beat BT in 2019, in the semifinals. After another strong performance, the Titans earned a 46-21 win and secured their fourth trip to the state finals in five years.
BT continued its streak of state titles Dec. 14 with an exciting, 17-14 win over Oconee County. The Titans scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the second quarter to take the lead and ran off the final nine minutes of regulation with a 17-play drive that included two fourth-down conversions.