The Johns Creek boys golf team may have the best one-two punch in the state and plenty of depth. But the Gladiators will be pushed to the limit if they hope to win their second straight state championship.
Johns Creek is among a handful of teams expected to contend for the Class AAAAAA title, a 36-hole affair that begins Monday at the Chattahoochee Golf Club in Gainesville.
Johns Creek is led by the sophomore duo of Andy Mao and Nic Cassidy, who has made a verbal commitment to play at the University of Georgia. The team’s depth is exceptional with Jake DiBenedetto and Calum Ross both shooting 79 in the area meet and brothers Thomas and Sebastien Gerard only a step behind.
But Johns Creek did not win its Area 3 tournament. It tied with Cambridge, which has exceptional depth, too. The Bears are led by Brad Plaziak, Blake Kollin, Ryan Demit and Blake Farbman. That same area also produced Alpharetta and Dunwoody, who could contend.
Area 2 champion Lakeside Evans may be able to crash the Northside block party. Lakeside’s trio of Clay Grantham, Preson Wagaman and Alex Colligan are all capable of putting up a good number.
Area 4 champion Creekview, which got a pair of 70s from Brady Keran and Walker Winslette in the area tournament, and perennial Area 1 power Glynn Academy should be in the mix.
The dark horse is Gainesville, which finished third in the area meet, but has more experience on the course than anyone else in the field. The Red Elephants have a proud golf tradition and have won seven state championships, the most recent in 2013.
Class AAAAAAA boys, Chateau Elan Legends, Braselton: Mill Creek might have an advantage since they’ve played the course many times. The Hawks won the Area 4 tournament by 19 shots, behind a deep team led by Alex Markham.
Milton, Etowah and Lambert, who finished one-two-three in Area 3, each has a guy capable of going low and the sort of depth needed to content. Milton is led by Phil Jones, Etowah is led by Caleb Jensen and Lambert by Corey Chrzanowski. Jones and Jensen shot 68 in the area tournament.
Class AAAAA boys, Sunset Hills Country Club, Carrollton: Starr’s Mill has the depth needed to win its first championship. Andrew Crocket leads a solid one-through-five lineup.
The home-course advantage goes to Carrollton, which won the Area 4 meet. Others who should contend include Ola, Walnut Grove and Statesboro.
Class AAAA boys, Columbus Country Club: Columbus, which won the Class AAAAA title last year, will try to break Marist’s five-year streak of winning a state championship. Columbus has a definite home-course advantage and has plenty of depth through its top five spot, with Nola Miller and Daniel Davis at the top.
Marist’s lineup goes even deeper. The War Eagles have six strong players; Jordan Secret and Braden Jones each shot 67 at the area tournament and the team’s worst score was a 76.
Others to watch are St Pius, Oconee County, Woodward Academy and LaFayette.
Class AAA boys, Lakeview Golf Club, Blackshear: Westminster has won three of the last four championships and is the favorite once again. The Wildcats, led by Sam Lape, have championship depth.
Pierce County is the local favorite. The Bears won the Area 2 tournament, with each player scoring 77 or better. Ty Metts, the area medalist, could have a breakout day.
Other contenders include Pace Academy, Lovett, Pike County, Hart County and Greater Atlanta Christian, which won Class AA last year.
Class AA boys, Waynesboro Country Club: Local favorite Harlem will try to win its first state championship in a wide-open field. Model, behind Cooper Greer, may be the main competition. Others to watch are Benedictine, Metter and Vidalia.
Class A Private boys, Green Island Country Club, Columbus: First Presbyterian will try to break Brookstone’s hold on the title. FPD beat Brookstone by 14 in the Area 1 meet. But this time Brookstone, which has won state in six of the last seven years, will be playing at home, which helps even the odds. Both teams have excellent depth, with the top five each capable of shooting in the 70s.
Other contenders are Athens Academy, Price Avenue Christian, Strong Rock Christian, Mount Vernon and Mt. Paran. Those teams also have depth and feature a go-low type player, making this classification one of the most competitive in the state.
Class A Public boys, Landings Golf Club, Warner Robins: Gordon Lee, led by Tucker Windham, has the sort of depth needed to win state. Lincoln County and Charlton County could make a run. Trion has won the last two state championships.