With 48 points, Kell was the one that walked away with the title, the first in its history. Several athletes were behind that victory, but none more critical than Jordan Chambers and Devon Williams.
Chambers won state titles in the shot put and discuss, while Williams took home crowns in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. Williams also placed sixth in the long jump and combined with Chambers to score 46 of the 48 team points Kell used to win the championship.
This year’s squad, however, will be far different. Chambers and Williams have graduated, and they’ve taken all of their points with them.
Kell coach Richard Norman knows it will be tough for his Longhorns to repeat on their state title aspirations, but he’s confident the team has enough weapons to challenge for a top-10 finish.
“We lost a lot of points when Jordan and Devon graduated,” Norman said. “They were special. Jordan was a two-time state champion in the field, and Devon sealed the championship for us in his events, winning it going down the home stretch of the 300 hurdles.
“It was pretty exciting to see him do that. His goal was to be a two-time state winner and he went out just like that as a senior. It’s going to be hard to replace their leadership and their points. Those are big shoes to fill.”
Norman has a couple of athletes on the roster that he expects to help carry the team as it prepares to defend its title. That includes senior Jordan Jackson, junior Julian Burris and sophomore Logan Poteet.
Jackson is the team’s top returning hurdler, while Burris will anchor the sprinting events. The two will also contribute to strengthening the 400 relay team, while Poteet is slated to be the Longhorns’ top distance runner.
“Those are three guys I’m counting on to help us get over the losses,” Norman said. “Jordan is one of our main hurdlers, so he’ll help us in that area left by Devon.
“I want Julian to have a strong junior year in the sprints. He and Jordan should really be able to help the relay team. Julian had some injuries last year in practice, but he could really be an anchor for the team if he stays healthy.
“Logan is a strong distance guy who showed some promise as a freshman. He won the county title in the 3,200 as a freshman in the JV meet, and he finished third in the 1,600. He’s been working really hard.”
With no assurances that the Longhorns have the type of strong talent at the top, like last season, Norman will have to see how things develop as it relates to the depth of his roster going forward.
“We don’t know about our depth just yet,” he said. “With the new and young guys still out right now, the varsity team really hasn’t been tested. There’s a big learning curve to see how the guys will respond. If they come on like we know they can, that could lead to big things for us at the region, sectional and state level.”
Improvement throughout the roster is definitely on Norman’s agenda. With programs like Pope and Sprayberry moving with Kell to the new Region 7AAAAA, he expects the battles with his east Cobb adversaries to continue to be tough.
“Sprayberry and Pope are always strong competitors in our region,” Norman said. “They’re well-coached, and they have great athletes. It’s always a battle when the three of us go against each other.”