Entering as a heavy underdog in a bracket filled with traditional state powers like Collins Hill, Camden County and Archer, the Cougars didn’t bring any hardware home to their Johns Creek campus, but head coach J.J. Hicks’ team did pick up the schools’ first victory in the Macon Centerplex and a plethora of experience for their growing program.
“It was so much fun,” Hicks said of the state dual tournament, which commenced Jan. 10 and culminated with Archer beating Camden County for the AAAAAA championship Jan. 12. “Now that our guys got to compete in the state duals and saw the atmosphere in Macon, [I hope] we’ll put ourselves in a position to qualify to get here every year.”
Chattahoochee qualified for the state duals by virtue of their second place finish at the 6AAAAAA duals a week prior, where they fell just short of an area championship in a loss to North Forsyth.
The Cougars entered the 16-team tournament in Macon unseeded and paired against No. 3 seed Camden County in the opening round of the two-loss elimination tournament.
The Wildcats, who hail from Kingsland, made quick work of Chattahoochee with a 55-12 victory, sending the Cougars into the consolation bracket — but far from ending their tournament.
“We knew [Camden] was one of the best in the state but our kids didn’t back down and that was nice to see,” said Hicks. “We took a step back from there and focused on getting a win against Douglas County, who we had very little information about.”
After a loss to open the dual at 195 pounds against Douglas County, ‘Hooch got their first win at 220 pounds from Mikey Cunningham. The Cougars then established control of the match through the lower weights with wins from Jordan Pitt (106 pounds), Matt Allman (120), Joey Reighing (126), Wes Rice (138), Ben Gierer (145) and Brady Miller (152) before Shawn Hoffman (182) sealed the contest with a win in the final match — giving the Cougars a 40-31 win.
Chattahoochee’s dual tournament came to an end a round later with a narrow loss to region rival North Forsyth for the second time in a week (43-36).
“We were one mistake from beating them and we will definitely use these past two matches to work harder in practice for the next three weeks,” said Hicks.
Chattahoochee will have another shot at North Forsyth at the 6AAAAAA traditional tournament Jan. 31 through Feb. 2.