For many of us, the time is drawing near for those dreaded year-end appraisals, where we’re either patted on the back or kicked in the rear, or maybe a combination of both, for how we’ve performed out job throughout the years.
Before I’m called on the proverbial carpet, I’d like to take a moment for a self-evaluation. In particular, I’d like to explain those preseason picks I made back in August of how I thought our local teams would fare this season. Certainly the results aren’t worthy of a huge Christmas bonus, but neither did they reveal complete incompetence.
In short, I figure I at least deserve another shot at sticking around for another year.
Let’s review (preseason pick/final regular-season record).
I was feeling good about this pick after the Red Devils upended cross-county rival Monroe in a season-opening, overtime thriller. But a brutal non-region schedule and a stronger-than-expected region, combined with a transition to a new coaching staff, resulted in a couple more losses than I thought. Most disappointing was a fourth-place finish in a league I thought they had an outside shot at winning.
Walnut Grove (4-4/3-7)
The Warriors had only eight games on the schedule when the season kicked off but managed to add couple more. Having upset an unbeaten Greenbrier in week five, Walnut Grove appeared to be on track for, at worst, a winning season. But a loss to a winless Apalachee a month later virtually assured another sub-.500 campaign. Had they beaten the Wildcats, I was dead on with this one win-wise.
Monroe Area (8-2/8-2)
As I said when justifying my preseason pick for the Hurricanes, given head coach Kevin Reach’s track record, far be it from me to pick against him. Despite taking a heavy hit to graduation, the fourth-year coach had his team in contention for a region crown until late in the season, eventually settling for second place. The only losses were in overtime to Loganville and to second-ranked and potential state champ Oconee County. Until he gives me reason, I’ll never saddle Reach’s teams with more than two losses.
Social Circle (5-5/4-6)
The Redskins ended one extended drought this year by making the state playoffs. Still left is to finish .500 or better for the first time in 12 seasons. Who knew Putnam County would have its best season in a decade? Had I, maybe I would have nailed this pick. As it is, one game off ain’t bad. Looking ahead, I’ll likely stick with this same prediction next fall.
George Walton Academy (5-5/8-2)
I’m starting to feel about GWA head coach Shane Davis the way I do about Reach. Regardless of the roster, both are going to field winning teams. With fewer numbers overall than most teams they played, and with three freshmen in the starting lineup, a break-even year seemed reasonable. Instead, the Bulldogs’ only losses were to teams that were or are ranked No. 1 in the state, one of which is a shoo-in to win state. What’s more, GWA won a pair of road playoff games and came perilously close to making the semifinals. My bad.
Loganville Christian (0-10/2-6)
I ate crow for this pick earlier in the fall, but I wasn’t alone. The Lions entered the year with their third head coach since the 2019 season ended. They were entering the Georgia High School Association with a miniscule roster. All that combined with no offseason and you can understand why it wasn’t far-fetched to consider a winless campaign. Kudos to the Lions for persevering through what was always going to be a tough fall. I’ll remember this for next year.