We asked our local coaches to give us a peek at the upcoming season. We’ve included reports from the coaches who responded to us by our deadline.
Head Football Coach
The focus for the 2016 Sequoyah High School Chiefs will be getting back to the playoffs. After missing the playoffs last season for the first time in four years, the team has been working harder than ever. With the change in classification, the 2016 schedule is filled with familiar foes as well as new faces. The Chiefs will open the season at 7:30 p.m. at North Forsyth, followed by matches with local rivals Cherokee, Woodstock, Creekview and River Ridge. The second half of the season will consist of South Cobb, Dalton, 2015 5A state champion Allatoona, Harrison and Sprayberry.
The 2016-17 senior college prospects will be linebacker McGwire Wells, wide receiver Zach Henley, defensive back Xavier Ransby, linebacker Daniel Bennett, running back/receiver Zach Stark, offensive lineman Bobby Hewitt, Dante Moore, defensive back Darius Smith and outside backer Luke Rogers.
Offensively the Chiefs will be led by returning running backs Cameron Gales, Luke Jensen and Stark. At quarterback, the competition is between Wesley Potter and Collier Pecht. On the offensive line, the Chiefs will look to Hewitt, Austin Moore, Noah Sherburn, Preston Shelley and Hunter Maihles, along with Will Martin and Griffin Pizzano. The receiver group is made up with returners Henley, Stark and Patrick Ballance. Also working at receiver will be Emmanuel Jenkins, Cole Jacobs, Jarvis Goolsby and Carson Crowe.
Defensively the Chiefs are led by returning linebacker and member of the 2016 Tribune Super Six Wells. Joining Wells will be Bennett, Justin Lingerfelt and Hakeem Hartford. The front line will be made up of Dante Moore, Austin Moore, Chandler Clark and Hewitt. In the secondary, the Chiefs will have returners Ransby, Rogers and Brooks Morris, as well as Emmanuel Jenkins and Smith.
If the Chiefs continue to work together and develop their team chemistry this season could be filled with a lot of special memories.
Sequoyah Cross Country
Coach James Adams
The Sequoyah cross country team is returning with a great group of runners. The boys’ team is led by senior Dalton Trampnau, who is coming off of an outstanding track season. The boys’ team is also returning with a strong group of upcoming sophomores, who shined as freshmen last year, with Josh Meyers, Aiden Heard, Bradshaw Lathbury and Nick Latizia. Zach Davis is also returning from last year’s varsity team.
The Sequoyah girls’ cross country team is led by Caroline Crum, who is coming off of a great track season. The girls’ team graduated a strong core of runners, including Aleah Johnson who will be running at North Georgia next year and Madison Stout who will be attending the University of Alabama as a student. The team will be returning standout Alyssa Cagle, who placed 16th in the region last year, Kiley Howard and Anna Beth Bedsole.
The team’s first 5k will be on Sept. 3 at the Panthers Invitational, the Cherokee County meet will be on Oct. 8 and the region meet on Oct. 22.
Sequoyah Competitive Cheer
Coach Rachel Ulloa
We are thrilled to announce the return of competitive cheerleading at Sequoyah High School. I am excited to see what our varsity co-ed squad has in store for our Chief nation! Our team is made up of mostly younger talent with exciting futures ahead of them.
The squad will be following the leadership of senior Ashlyn Lummus and juniors Erin Schmidt and Kalin Valone. Lummus and Schmidt have been great leaders, provided encouragement and positivity during past football and basketball cheerleading seasons, and I know they’re going to do great with our competition squad! Valone is not only a gifted athlete, but his motivation and dedication to the sport have made him a welcomed addition to our cheer family.
Of our 10 freshmen, Annelyssa Destin and Christina Downing are two young ladies to keep your eyes on. Destin has blown the coaches away with her high spirit, energy and enthusiasm on the floor. New to the sport, Downing is a talented gymnast and we can’t wait to see how her abilities will translate to the competitive cheer world.
The team is working hard this summer to prepare for practices, which start on Aug. 1. Our schedule has not been solidified yet, but we hope to participate in five competitions this fall. I’m privileged to be working with such a great group of athletes and can’t wait to get the competitive cheer program up and running at Sequoyah High School!
Coach John Edwards
Sequoyah volleyball looks to continue its level of success in 2016. Graduated are the Hartman twins, key players on the program’s three straight state finals appearances that included a championship in 2014. Kelley (state co-player of the year) and Lauren have moved on to play at the University of South Alabama, but there are many remaining Chiefs with experience. Upcoming seniors Marcelle Butler and Allie Tucker are two of the eight returning varsity players that will contribute to Sequoyah’s effort to extend their postseason streak (17 of the last 18 years, including 10 straight). Also returning are all-area selections Deja Goss and Karen Morris, setter Annika Lanning, and defensive specialists Mallory Lawson, Alyssa Giardina and Victoria Ergle.
Despite losing two of their leaders, Coach Edwards is looking forward to what the season brings. “Every year brings new challenges, and this year will be no different. I cannot wait to get started and see who emerges as our new leaders and how we respond to the competition – both at practice and in matches. This group understands that they will not be successful without hard work and being great teammates.”
Sequoyah begins its season by hosting the 25th annual Sequoyah Classic on Aug. 12 and 13.
River Ridge Football
Coach Tyler Wynn
The River Ridge Knights football team enters the 2016 season hoping to turn a corner in program history with a new classification and a new region — Region 6 AAAAAA.
Head Coach Tyler Wynn and the Knights will battle in the new region with familiar foes such as county rivals, Creekview and Sequoyah, as well as perennial power Dalton. In addition to these familiar programs, River Ridge will also face new region challenges from neighboring Cobb County schools; Allatoona (2015 class 5A state champion), Harrison and Sprayberry.
River Ridge will lean heavily on experience on both the offensive and defensive lines with seniors James Cunha, Somadina Okeke, Jaxson Cromwell, Ethan Sigley and Kris Bright, anchoring those positions. The Knights also hope to get heavy production from senior Jarrod Fletcher in various skill positions on the field.
River Ridge travels to Woodstock High for a 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 season opener.
River Ridge Cross Country
Coach Keith Hooper
As River Ridge moves into a new region for the 2016 season, we will be presented with new challenges by facing several schools whom we have never competed against as well as running on several new courses. Another challenge will be how I, as a coach, adapt to my post Achilles surgery, which will not allow me to run during the entire season.
I still anticipate the program to have between 60-70 runners with top female runner Claudia Quintanilla (sophomore) and male Robert “Big Rob” Zell leading the team. They will be supported by a solid core of runners who have been with the program three to four years and are: sisters Ana and Maria Rivadeneira, Claire Chen, Mattison Frank and Dominique Miller, while the boys will have Brandon Hewgley, Justin Mason, Max Miller and Nicholas Naliwajka.
River Ridge Softball
Head Coach Andrew Marinelli
I am extremely excited about the 2016 softball season. We are returning eight starters from last year’s sweet 16 team. This group of girls allows me to have a variety of options when it comes to making the lineup. With their athletic ability and versatility, I feel comfortable putting any player at any position. They are a pleasure to coach. They love being around one another and love the game. They bring everything they have to every practice and game. This is a reflection of our senior class and the leadership they bring every day. You know you have a special group when your best players are your hardest workers. I put a huge emphasis on playing the game the way it is supposed to be played, and this group does just that. We have seven all-region players returning along with the region and county player of the year. This upcoming season we are in a very competitive region and we look forward to the challenge.
River Ridge Volleyball
Coach Julie Winfield
Coach Winfield, assistant Coach Jenna Wilt and the River Ridge Lady Knights volleyball team are more than ready to get their season started. After graduating four seniors, Coach Winfield is returning starters Gabriella Zonsa and Cristina Peterson. Last season, Zonsa led the team in blocks (111), and Peterson was one of the top offensive leaders; most kills on the team (217) for the season.
Defense is going to be the key to success this season. Coach Winfield is looking to the two seniors, Zonsa and Peterson to provide solid front row support, along with junior setter Lauren Talele and freshman Abby Infante. Making up the defensive back row will be senior Ansley Lathem and junior Ashley Hessman. Hessman grew into a key defensive player last season for the Lady Knights until a season-ending concussion. Juniors Emily Polley and Jill Reeves were brought up to the varsity team last season and were able to contribute in key moments toward the end of the varsity season. Coach Winfield sees both girls getting opportunities to contribute. The Lady Knights also have added several key players that will bring a competitive edge.
Coach Winfield and the team are excited to move into 6A and are looking forward to the larger
classification competition. The Lady Knights will host seven home games this season and will be playing several Saturday dates to help the team prepare for the area and state tournament.
Woodstock Cross Country
Coach Kirk Scharich
We are excited to roll out the cross country season this fall. Our boys will be led by five four-year seniors: Austin Bailey, Josh Catt, Josiah Jaqua, Patrick Nolen and Matt Shear. Along with a strong junior class of Jackson Blanchard, Evan Cowart, Dylan Mason, Trevor Melehan, Jacob Rigsby and Nic Trousse, we believe this will be another great year.
Our girls are led by sophomore Brynne Sumner, who was all-state and Cherokee County runner of the year. She will be pushed by sophomore and all-county track runner Anna Burnett. Juniors Hannah Everest, Alexia John and Gwen Setlock along with sophomores Anna Bailey, Carson Lyrberg, Rachel Smith and Alonna Wood will complete a strong varsity squad.
Our focus this fall is on working hard: running, lifting, biking and swimming. We had a 12-week summer program that focused on these activities. If we can continue to work hard and stay healthy, we are certain this will be a very exciting season for our cross country teams.
We kick off the season on Aug. 19 as we host the third annual Battle of the Fairways. With more than 20 schools scheduled to attend this year, it looks to be a competitive meet at Fairways of Canton Golf Club in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood.
Coach Z. Kortney Dempsey
Woodstock softball had a respectable 2015-16 season winning the Region 5AAAAAA title and moving on to the sweet 16 of the postseason. The team has been working hard during the offseason in the weight room, practicing and playing travel ball in the spring and summer months.
The 2015-16 season was a thrilling year for the players and coaches. Multiple players were awarded various accolades. Breanna Roper was awarded first team all-state, first team all-region, and MVP for the Lady Wolverine program. Rising senior Lexi Solorzano received first team all-region for her play in the infield, and Alisha House was named to first team all-region for outfield; Sofia Tunon received first team all-region as a catcher. Laura Bishop was awarded first team all-region pitcher of the year as a freshman.
The Woodstock softball program takes great pride in working hard in the offseason and giving back to the community. The team participated in MUST Ministries packing and delivering lunches. Additionally each player is responsible for completing community hours. Each individual player typically completes more than 50 hours of community service from their freshman to senior years as part of the team’s commitment to serve others.
Coach Dempsey is looking forward to the upcoming season and welcomes two new assistant coaches to the team. Coach Dempsey is encouraged about the program’s future, “We want to go out and play to win, and never be out hustled.”
Coach Anita Dodd
The Woodstock volleyball players are excited for the season to begin and are working hard to earn another return to the state playoffs. Over the summer the team attended a camp at Emory University and a play-day at Kennesaw State University.
Coach Dodd said, “We have a lot of changes to make this year due to last season’s losses and the injury of Cassidy Urode (defensive specialist). We feel that we will be a stronger and more competitive team.” She said players to watch are junior outside hitter Emilee Harris, and libero McKenzie Keeton. New players to watch are senior setter Jordi Nix, and freshmen middles Mackenzie Norris and Nyla Shepherd. “We have a great group of players this year who are working very hard defensively and offensively to become full time players.”
The season will begin with a scrimmage against North Cobb High School at 6 p.m. at Woodstock on Aug. 4 in a 3/5 battle.
Head Coach Brent Budde
The outlook for the Woodstock Wolverines football team is promising this year due to the return of 16 starters from last year’s team. The Wolverines have eight starters returning on offense and eight on defense. The punter and long snapper on special teams will also return.
Among the returning starters are two quarterbacks, Garrett Bass and Liam Byrne, who both threw for 1,500 yards last year. The receivers also return Louis Hall, who was second team all-state in his sophomore season. Hall set the Woodstock receiving record last year with 1,070 yards. Returning along with Hall are juniors Dominic Hewitt and Noah Frith, and senior Ethan Chamberlin.
On the offensive line, the Wolverines have four of five players returning. This experience up front should produce more rushing yards and give the quarterbacks more time to look down field. On defense Woodstock brings back all of the linebackers, who are led by Corey Long, Logan Cox and Cole McBay. Long was Woodstock’s leading tackler last season with more than 100 total tackles. Latrell Bankston will be applying the pressure to the opponent’s quarterback. The junior nose guard is a force up front. Austin Bennett and Tucker Wood return in the defensive secondary. Both had a great 2015 season and are looking to be even better this season. Hall and Hewitt will be seeing time on defense to help fill some holes in the defensive backfield.
Woodstock will be in the newly formed AAAAAAA classification and will play in Region 4. The region schedule has some familiar opponents in it with Etowah, Cherokee, Walton, Lassiter and Roswell. Woodstock’s non-region schedule has some new faces on it; Woodstock will play West Forsyth and North Paulding high schools for the first time ever. The Wolverines also will play North Forsyth and Kennesaw Mountain high schools along with in-county rival Sequoyah High School.
Coach Helen Lane
“I am extremely honored and proud to be the head cheerleading coach at Woodstock High School,” Coach Lane said. “I am very excited about the upcoming cheerleading season. Our sideline squads are looking forward to supporting our Woodstock Football program and cheering them on as they take their opponents ‘TO THE WOODSHED.’”
The junior varsity sideline squad will be coached by Anna Grantham and the varsity
sideline squad by Lynda Watson. Both squads consist of energetic and enthusiastic student-athletes that are excited to cheer on the football players under the Friday night lights. The community is invited to cheer with them every week, but especially at this year’s homecoming game on Oct. 7 against crosstown rival Etowah High School.
The competition program is introducing a new junior varsity competition squad this year. Grantham and Watson will be coaching this team. Along with Robin Kennedy, Lane will coach the varsity competition team. “We are incredibly excited about the talent and drive this exceptional team possesses. We are so lucky to have such a great group of student-athletes that not only demonstrate their strong work ethic on the mat, but also in the classroom.” Lane said. “Our team is driven by our goal to bring home the first region title for Woodstock High School in competitive cheerleading and place in the top six at the state competition.”
The public is invited to support the squad on Oct. 29 at the Trick or Treat Invitational hosted by Woodstock High School. The middle school, junior varsity and varsity competition teams will all be competing that day beginning at 9 a.m.
River Ridge Competition Cheerleading
Coach Kim Manus
This competitive program consists of student-athletes dedicated to excellence in their sport and to the promotion of sportsmanship. The competition cheerleading program was established at River Ridge in 2009. Although it’s relatively young, the varsity competition team has been
successful in advancing to the GHSA state competition in 2013 and 2015. In 2013, the
team finished with an eighth place finish.
The 2016 season will see a new set of challenges for the team with River Ridge moving
to the 6A classification. The experience of the upperclassmen combined with the talent
of the incoming freshmen will help to provide a solid foundation for the team to build
upon their past successes.
The team plans to be part of five competitions this season, in addition to the region championship at Dawson County High School on Nov. 5. The top four teams from the region will advance to the GHSA state championship Nov. 11-12.
We are looking forward to the upcoming season and the opportunity to proudly represent our school and our program on the field, on the competition floor, in the classroom, and in the community.