The Georgia High School Association liked what they saw at the Macon Centreplex last weekend and, chances are, the Final Four will return there again next season.
"We used this year as an experiment, and the City of Macon did an outstanding job," GHSA executive director Tommy Guillebeau said. The response to having the boys and the girls all at one site has been favorable."
For first time in more than 40 years, the boys and girls semifinal and final rounds in all four GHSA classifications were held at one site - the boys in the 8,000-seat Macon Coliseum and the girls in the shiny, new Edgar Wilson Convention Center, which holds about 3,000.
It was the first time that Atlanta did not host a Final Four. Last year, the Class AAAA and AAA Final Four were held at Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum, while the Class AA and A were at the Macon Coliseum.
Most coaches at the tournament said they liked the one-site plan, as well, though some girls coaches felt slighted.
"Once again, the girls get a raw deal," Josey girls coach Lynn Brantley said. "The (convention center) gym is nice, but I think the girls would have liked a chance to play in the big arena. Playing in the smaller gym, you lose some of the luster to playing in a Final Four."
The site for the 1998 GHSA Final Four will be decided April 21-22, at the GHSA's executive committee meeting in Thomaston, Ga. With the March 20 deadline for proposals fast approaching, what about Augusta as a future site?
"No one from Augusta has ever made a serious proposal to us," said GHSA board member Ralph Swearngin. "I think Macon and Atlanta are ideal sites for the tournament because of their central location in the state, and cities like Augusta and Columbus are hurt by their location.
But we would still listen to any proposal from any city in the state. I think if Augusta made us some kind of fantastic offer, we would consider it."
Tammy Stout of the Greater Augusta Sports Council said the idea of bidding for a Final Four "has been tossed around by board members," but never seriously considered, and that she would discuss the possibilities with sports council board members - including Augusta State men's basketball coach Clint Bryant and Richmond County athletic director Wayne Wiggins.
WORLDLY: Five Augusta Prep soccer players were selected to represent the United States at the World Scholar-Athlete Games this summer at the University of Rhode Island.
Senior Laura Guill will play for the U.S. women; juniors Allen Hobbs, Dylan Sterling and Wes Dunaway, and sophomore D.J. Harrington are U.S. men's team members.
The games, held once every four years, features prep athletes from 125 nations ages 16-19 with a B-average or better.
"This is a wonderful honor," said Augusta Prep second year soccer coach Derek Harrington. "It's a pretty big thing when five from one school are selected."
EARLY SUCCESS: Richmond Academy coach Steve Howard knows that Greenbrier and Westside are the class of Region 3-AAA in boys soccer, but he's enjoying the Musketeers' early, surprising success.
"We haven't played Greenbrier or Westside yet but we're doing OK," said Howard, whose Musketeers host Class AAAA power Statesboro tonight at 7 - the first game in the final weekend of action at the Richmond Academy Invitational tournament. "We're young, I'm really working with a JV team on the varsity, but they're working hard and doing a good job so far."
With a starting lineup of six sophomores, a freshman and only two seniors, ARC is 3-2-1. Senior goalkeeper Tom Sabio has posted four shutouts to lead the way and striker Victor Ramirez, still trying to get back to full speed from a torn ACL suffered last season, is a junior Howard expects will be a force the next two seasons. Sophomore Jonathan Schroer started for ARC as a freshman and is Howard's top talent, leading the team in scoring with eight goals.
"We have some good young players and I think we'll be pretty good the next couple of years," Howard said. "Schroer is special. He's a cut above the rest."
In the final day of the tournament on Saturday, Statesboro will play Greenbrier at 9 a.m., then faces Harlem at 11:30.
DIAMOND NOTES: Augusta Christian, last year's GISA Class AAA baseball champions, just keep on rolling. The Lions' 3-1 win over Windsor Academy in the Tattnall Square Invitational in Macon was their 37th straight victory. The Lions finished 30-0 last season. Brad Reed, the winning pitcher in last year's title game - a 7-6 extra-innings thriller with Southland Academy - took the win Wednesday to improve to 3-0 this season and 11-0 over the past two years... Terry Holder and Greenbrier remain unbeaten at 6-0, after a 16-0 rout of Region 3-AAA rival ARC on Monday. The Wolfpack also made an early statement in the region race with a 22-6 win over defending champion Westside. ... Holder's old school, Evans, under first-year coach Chris Seagraves, is off to a pretty good start as well, at 6-2. In the Knights' first home opener in 21 years with someone other than Holder at the helm, junior T.J. Davis no-hit South Aiken in a 9-0 win. Seagraves, though, has a ways to go to catch his predecessor. Holder's coaching mark at Evans is 441-120... Greenbrier is ranked No. 3 in Class AAA in this week's Georgia Dugout Club/Georgia Athletic Coaches Association poll. Harlem (5-2) is ranked No. 10 in Class AA.
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