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High School Sports Jan 12th, 2018 - 20:16:56

Top high school sports stories of 2017. ***Corrected***

By Dave Whitaker
Dec 31, 2017, 16:18

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It was quite the year for BCHS athletics. Championships, historic playoff runs, historic achievements. Here are some of the top stories from 2017.

Lassiter comes home- There were rumors on message boards and around town about who would be tapped to lead Bleckley football. The rumors were proven true in February when Von Lassiter was hired as the new head football coach for BCHS. The Royals had a good first year, narrowly missing a state playoff berth.

Tennis teams snap streaks- Both the boys and girls tennis teams had long streaks of making it to, yet falling, in the semifinals. But last spring, they broke through. It took a marathon singles victory by Bronson Sanders to get the boys to the championship round, and Bailey Odom filling in for the girls in the finals, but Bleckley was tops in AA tennis for the first time in school history.

A Historic playoff run- No Bleckley team had beaten Dodge County for the region title before last year’s squad did. They followed it with a run to the final four, the first for girls basketball.

BCHS was “excellent” in athletics- The motto of Bleckley Schools is “Expect Excellence.” For high school sports in 2016-17, that was the case. Seven region titles and four state titles were part of a historic year that led to the Georgia Athletic Director’s Association Cup coming to Cochran for the first time ever.

“Victory” for the Runnin’ Royals girls- At this year’s cross country awards, head coach Shelly Cranford said his motto of “victory” wasn’t about winning. Rather, “victory” was finding a goal and accomplishing it. But the girls cross country team achieved a historic victory, becoming the first team in school history to repeat as state champions.

Lady Royals softball breaks through- Though the Lady Royals had a streak of three straight sweet 16 appearances going into 2017, the last two ended painfully. In both cases, Bleckley won the first game, on the road, only to lose the next two. Things appeared to be headed in the same direction following a split of their series at Berrien. But Bleckley broke through with a 6-4 win to clinch an elite eight berth for the first time since 2011.

Girls soccer makes history- Since BCHS started high school soccer in 2009, both teams have made the state playoffs. But the girls had never finished higher than third. This year, they were runner up and hosted a playoff game, both firsts.

A finish worth cheering about- BCHS has a rich history in cheerleading, winning two state titles, including the ever state championship for competition cheerleading in 1994. A decade of top seven finishes ended in 2009. This year’s squad, with eight freshmen, overcame a poor performance at region, placed third at sectionals, then finished sixth at Saturday’s finals. The best finish since 2008.

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