By R. Alan Richardson
In the immortal words of the famous Gashouse Gang pitcher of the 1940’s Dizzy Dean, “It ain’t braggin’ if you done it.” This is going to be the easiest article I’ve ever written as I get a chance to brag on the success of our athletic programs over the past 2015-16 school year. This old man spent over 30 years teaching and coaching in several high schools across Georgia where we had a lot of success. However, I’ve never witnessed in any of those schools the accolades that have been collected by this year’s sports teams at Morgan County High School.
So, what do we attribute that to? I found out a long time ago that good players made me a much better coach. It’s funny how the championships and awards we received were during those periods when we had great athletes. I’m not saying that our coaches aren’t great. They are. Athletic Director Steve Cisson once told me, “This is the absolute best coaching staff we’ve ever had in all sports at this school.” He should know. The man has been here 41 years and I have to agree with him. I’ve watched these teams throughout the entire school year.
We have to acknowledge the players, coaches, administration, school system, teachers, parents, fans, community, and many others in making this a year to remember in high school athletics at MOCO. The ONE MORGAN slogan that has been in place for several years describes our little town atmosphere well. We are definitely blessed to live in Morgan County, a county of family, friends, and supporters that come out every night to give these kids our encouragement. Believe me it’s not like this in a lot of high schools across the state. It’s part of the reason our athletes play so hard and have received all this hype.
Here’s a partial list of some of their accomplishments over the past year. If I’ve left anyone out, I apologize.
Starting in the fall we had a football team with three college signees and a Burlsworth Award winner. Our volleyball team went to state and the sweet 16 while featuring an all-region player. We all remember our scrappy softball team that came up one short of winning a fourth state championship, finishing runner-up in AAA. They also had three coaches named state coach-of-the-year and a player who was not only region play-of-the-year, but also state player-of-the-year. One player signed a full scholarship to play at the next level. The cross-country team had a stellar season with several team wins along with earning a place in the state meet. They hosted one of the biggest cross-country events in the state last fall.
Winter sports were just as strong. Let’s start with our basketball programs. This is a long list of awards starting with both squads winning the 8-AAA region title and then topping that off with state championships. Both of our coaches were AAA state coach-of-the year. They boasted both the girls and boys region player-of-the-year along with others on the first team. The boys had three college signees while the girls had two. Morgan had the state player-of-the year for the boys and the girls had two on the first team. Another member of the boys’ squad was named a Positive Athlete Award winner this past week.
The competition cheerleading squad finished first in the region and finished seventh in the state, the highest any Morgan cheerleaders have ever finished. On top of that they featured the first ever full scholarship signee in cheerleading. It just keeps getting better. Our wrestling squad had a state champion while placing and competing at the top level of the state duals and individual championships. The Swim Dogs had a University of Georgia signee to swim for another set of Dogs next year.
Moving on to spring sports, it was more of the same. The baseball team had a college signee, the golf team saw a freshman finish third at state, track sent two girls to state, and girls’ soccer had two college signees. Morgan’s soccer team finished second in the region and hosted the first round. They won that game and competed in the Sweet Sixteen with arguably the best team the girls have ever fielded. Our tennis teams finished second and third in the region. The girls made it to the Sweet Sixteen and another coach-of-the-year was doled out for the girls’ coach.
I don’t know about you, but that list is mighty impressive. The icing on the cake was that our entire athletic program again received the 8-AAA region sportsmanship trophy as well as the East Atlanta Region Most Positive Athlete Award for 2016. This speaks volumes about not only how well our teams played, but how they played the game.
I can’t say enough about all those involved in our superior athletic programs and how proud they’ve made us all this past year, but it’s certainly been a year to remember.