Damon Howell / Photo
The Pickens varsity Dragons scrimmaged the Denmark Danes last Friday with a 21-28 loss at half-time. JV teams played the second half of the night, pulling out a win of 18-12. The 2018 football season officially opens this Friday at home against the Stone Mountain Pirates.
Kick off is at 7:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome to come out to Dragon Stadium to support the team. Pictured is Michael Burrell sweeping around a Dane defender.
As the students roll back into the school routine and summer draws to an end, it marks the time for fall sports to get under way at Pickens High School. There are over 200 student athletes competing in fall sports in 2018, each hoping to contribute to an athletics program that has seen participation steadily rise over the last decade. The fall sports offered at PHS Football, Softball, Cross-Country, Cheerleading, and Volleyball. Over the course of this fall the Progress will be following each of the teams as they compete. Here is an overview of each team and the season to come.
The Pickens Football team is entering its 7th season under head coach Chris Parker. The Dragons have made 4 consecutive playoff appearances, but have yet to make it out of the first round of the playoffs in the school’s history. When talking with the Dragons head coach he stated, “I think this season we have a great group of guys. A lot of them are returners from last year, and I think that experience will lead to a lot of success for this team. It’s a long season and a lot of things have to go your way, but this team definitely has a chance to be special.” On offense the Dragons will have to replace 2017 seniors Jacob Brumby (QB), Josh Cain (WR), and Matt Bradley (OL). They will look to players like CJ Streicher, Alex Snelgrove, Kaleb Ray, and Myles Bramlett to step into the holes left by the exiting seniors. All of those players were contributing members on the 2017 team, just in different roles. On defense, the Dragons will have to replace Zach Swaim (DL), but will do so with Chase Jarrett, Clayton Holland, and Dallas McHale, who were in a rotation with Swaim last season, along with new contributors James Sparks and Sy Chadwick. The Dragons open up at home Friday night against the Stone Mountain pirates and start region play against Gilmer with their Homecoming game on September 21st. The team will once again be facing tough region opponents in hopes of making their 5th straight appearance to the playoffs.
The Nettes softball team will to make a run for the playoffs in 2018. Coach Sarah Pinson is entering her 3rd year as the head coach of her alma mater. She was a member of 3 state tournament qualifying teams here at Pickens before attending Young Harris College where she played on both the softball and golf teams. Pinson will have some big shoes to fill with the absence of 4 year starter Shae Chadwick (.386). She will look to seniors Ellie Abner, Hattie Baker, Katherine Densmore, Hannah Fields, and Allie Tlacil to all step in to fill that hole. The 2018 season will bring a lot of challenges for the Nettes including an August 28th home game vs. the rival Gilmer Bobcats. Senior night will be held here at PHS on September 27th. According to Coach Pinson “Our goal this season is to compete for one of the region’s four playoff spots. We’ve got a bunch of really good girls, and I think if we can put everything together they have the potential to be a very good team.” The Nettes will kick off region play this week as they take on a very tough Heritage team.
The 2018 Girls Cross Country team is looking to build on their recent success with a new face running the show. Coach Cana Lutz in is her first year leading the Nettes cross country team. She ran both Cross Country and Track at Emmanuel College and has also been a NAIA Nationals and Boston Marathon qualifier. Coach Lutz will use that experience as a competitor to help push the Nettes team into a successful 2018 season. According to Lutz, “I’m excited to be starting off my first year as a head coach with this great group of girls. We have a young team full of talent and potential, and they have the determination to make things happen. I can’t wait to see how they develop as runners over this season and over their high school careers.” She will have to look to returning veterans Adrianna Vann, Ericka McNemar, Scarlett Yarger, and others to lead the way. Freshman Annslee Stone is one new runner who will definitely be competing for a role on the varsity this season. The Nettes runners will be looking to do well at the region meet at Dalton in order to qualify for the state championship meet to be held in Carrollton.
The 2018 Boys Cross Country team is preparing for the upcoming season. Under the leadership of head coach Donny White who is entering his 3rd year. The cross country team will be hosting the Pickens (And-A-Grinnin’) Invitational this year where they will look to defend their home turf against stiff competition. The season will culminate with the region meet held in Dalton and hopefully a trip to Carrollton to compete at the State Championship Meet.
This season brings about a lot of new things for the Pickens High School cheerleading squad as they bring back the Competition Squad. The last squad competed five years ago and this new aspect of the program is something that 4th year head coach Kanyon Petti hopes to continue for years to come. “I think PHS competitive cheer will be a dark horse in the region. I don’t think the other teams will see us coming. Our talent will shine as we give the veteran teams a run for their money.” While the cheer squad may be new to region competition they will bring back 11 seniors for this team and many of them have competed with squads outside of the high school. The team will be competing in four different events this year culminating with the region competition where they will look to qualify for the state competition in their first year back.
The Volleyball team enters the 2018 under the direction of 1st year head coach Karina Haney, who has served as the team’s sub-varsity coach for the past two seasons. The team finished 5th in the region last season and is looking to continue improving with Haney leading the way for the Nettes. Last year the Nettes graduated 6 seniors including Kalyn Bush, Peyton Avery, Ashley Craig, and Alex Heffner, who all ranked in the top 10 in the region in various statistical categories. This season, the Nettes will look to their 3 returning seniors as well as 3 additional seniors who have joined the varsity for leadership as the team enters a tough region schedule. Sydney Pearson is one of the seniors Coach Haney will look to contribute early for the Nettes. Last season Pearson finished second in the region in digs. The Nettes will also have several new faces on the varsity including 6 players who have moved up from a sub-varsity team that finished 2nd last season in their JV championship. The Nettes have several big dates ahead of them including a tournament at Fannin High School on August 25th, the annual Pink-Out game on September 6th, and Senior Night on October 4th. According to Coach Haney, “The girls have been dedicated and played with a lot of heart throughout the summer. They have really come together as a team, and I cannot wait to see what the girls accomplish this season.”