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Monday November 23rd, 2020 11:34AM

'Disappointment, heartbreak' come with GHSA decision to shut down remainder of season

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

GAINESVILLE — “Disappointment” was the word of the day. 

But you could tell there was a lot more emotion behind it for area high school coaches after the Georgia High School Association on Thursday hammered the final nail into the coffin of what was shaping up to potentially be a historic season for several northeast Georgia area teams.

The Johnson boys soccer team was a perfect 8-0 on the season and ranked No. 1 in Class 5A. However, there was even higher praise as the Knights also had just received notice that the United Soccer Coaches Association had ranked them as the No. 1 team in the United States, all classifications.

Needless to say, getting the final official word that the season had been called off was a tough one for first-year Johnson coach Frank Zamora.

“We’re devastated,” Zamora said Thursday. “Just sick for the kids, and especially the seniors. We were just starting to click as a team and then we had gotten word of the national ranking. Most people never get that kind of recognition. These guys were looking forward to trying to finish that way.

“The team is just so disappointed, as you can imagine. The seniors were crushed. We were talking state championship again. Now, it’s over. Just very, very tough. That’s all I can say.”

The North Hall baseball team had climbed to the No. 1 spot in Class 3A in what turned out to be the final Georgia Dugout poll on March 7 just before the GHSA postponed the season. They had just taken two of three games against Greater Atlanta Christian to climb into a tie for first place in Region 7-3A.

An emotional final game on March 13 was an eerie precursor for what would eventually follow three weeks later.

“It’s just very disappointing because our guys were really just starting to come together as a group,” North Hall coach Trevor Flow said. “A lot of good things happened in that GAC series that had me really thinking this group could be a special one. Now we’ll never get a chance to see how it would have turned out.

“But really the most frustrating thing to me is the uncertainty moving forward. What about the summer season? Does that get pushed back and if so, does that push back football? Just so many questions that no one seems to have an answer for right now.”

Flowery Branch baseball coach Joey Ray, whose Falcons were ranked fourth in Class 4A after a blistering 12-1 start, said he and his group were holding out hope that things could resume. It was not to be.

“A couple of weeks ago our guys started to text us wanting to know if the season would be shut down. At the time I just didn’t see it getting to that point,” Ray said. “But you look at the big picture, it’s hard to want to feel disappointed. But (baseball) means a lot to a lot of people: the parents, teachers that come to support the teams, the players, the alumni, the umpires who have lost revenue. It’s heartbreaking.

“We beat Marist in that last week and I think we started to think that this team had state title potential. No team is perfect but this group had great chemistry and tremendous talent. It’s a shame we never got to see what they could accomplish.”

The Buford baseball team also was ranked No. 1 in Class 5A in the last Georgia Dugout poll. Banks County in Class 2A and Commerce and Lakeview Academy in Class A Public and Private, respectively, also were ranked in the top 10 in the final polls.

For other soccer teams, the Buford girls in Class 5A and the Commerce girls in Class A Public both were ranked No. 1 in the final Eurosportscoreboard.com poll. The Gainesville boys and girls in Class 6A and the Chestatee boys and White County girls in Class 4A were ranked in the top 10. Both Jefferson teams, the Jackson County girls, and the Lumpkin County girls also were ranked in the top 10 in Class 3A, as was the Union County boys in Class 2A.

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