It was a banner year for high school sports in northwestern Georgia, and the finalists for this year's Scrappy Moore Coach of the Year award reflect that area's success.
Five of the six finalists for the award work in the Peach State.
The winner will be announced at the annual Times Free Press Best of Preps banquet tonight at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Former Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones is the guest speaker.
The finalists are Dalton soccer coach Matt Cheaves, Dade County softball co-coaches Christine Core and Autumn Sigler, Gordon Lee girls' basketball coach Lester Galyon, Ridgeland football coach Mark Mariakis, Gordon Lee wrestling coach Brent Raby and Cleveland wrestling coach Jake Yost.
In his 19th season at Dalton, Cheaves' Catamounts scored 134 goals and allowed only eight to finish 22-0 and Class AAAA state champions. It was the program's first outright state title after sharing the 2003 crown with Heritage of Conyers after a 1-all tie in the GHSA final. The 2013 Catamounts also were ranked No. 1 nationally in the MaxPreps final poll.
Core and Sigler are both former Dade County star players and were left in charge at their alma mater after the head coach was hired away last summer. Dade was a .500 team in mid-September before jelling with dominant pitching and a powerful lineup. The Lady Wolverines beat private schools Lovett and Wesleyan on their way to winning the Class AA state championship.
In his 12th year at Gordon Lee, Galyon led the basketball Lady Trojans to the Class A state championship for the first time in program history. They finished 25-7 overall after working through arguably the toughest region in the state. Losing four region games against top private schools relegated Gordon Lee to a No. 6 seeding, but that experience let Galyon know his team was prepared.
In his 10th season at Ridgeland, Mariakis directed the Panthers to the Class AAAA state-championship game for the first time in program history. The GHSA playoff berth was the seventh consecutive for Ridgeland, which finished the 2012 season 13-2.
After Gordon Lee shared the state duals championship in 2012, Raby guided the mat Trojans to both traditional and dual state titles this year. The former Ringgold wrestler had three from team earn individual state titles in their respective weight classes.
In his first season as Cleveland's coach, Yost's Blue Raiders went 26-2, losing both matches in a five-day span before Christmas, and rolled to traditional and duals Tennessee championships. Cleveland won the state duals finals by a state-record 78-4 margin.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.