The Raiders will travel to Jekyll Island to compete in the boys’ 5A Georgia High School Association State Championships on Pine Lakes Golf Course on Monday.
Head coach David Ryan is in his sixth season leading the boys’ golf team and said this season they played well — as he expected, coming off an eighth-place finish at state in 2012.
With state being the final match for the season, Ryan said he expects his team to compete for the title on Jekyll Island.
“There will be 16 teams competing but I expect us to play well. We’ve been to region and state before so we should be relaxed and do a good job,” Ryan said.
Last season, the top two teams automatically advanced to state, but this season, only the No. 1 team got that privilege. Those that finished second in certain regions moved to a sectional match to compete again for a chance at state.
Due to the change in rules, this year’s region match, at Stonebridge Golf Club in Rome April 20, was the most significant, according to Ryan.
“At the end of nine holes we were down by five strokes, but we won by nine strokes after getting settled in and playing better,” said Ryan.
This was a trying season for the team as Ryan said the weather was much worse this season than last, forcing them to cancel several matches. However, he said his boys persevered.
“It was really windy and very cold, but the guys are used to that and still played really well. They handled it well,” Ryan said.
The team’s top golfers, according to Ryan, are a group of seniors he has coached since they were freshmen — Buster Bruton, Barrett Waters and Chandler Weeks.
“Each year they have worked really hard,” said Ryan.
Bruton has signed with Kennesaw State University and Waters signed with the University of West Georgia.
With a team of seven this season, Ryan also led seniors Justin Lane, Michael Quinn and Max Van Meter and junior Michael Brown.
“It’s been a blessing to coach all of them and just be around them,” Ryan said.
With all but one of his current golfers graduating, Ryan said he has two eighth-graders that are currently playing in tournaments expected to try out, as well as three high school players that have been working hard.