County strong among elite of Class AAAAA
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
March 13, 2013 12:37 AM | 1733 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After the conclusion of the winter sports seasons, Pope and Allatoona are atop Class AAAAA in the Georgia Athletic Directors Association’s Directors Cup standings.

Pope is first at 601 points, with Allatoona is right behind with 580. Whitewater (571) is third, followed by Starr’s Mill (525) and McIntosh (517).

In Class AAAAAA, Walton and North Cobb are both in the top 10, but they’re stuck behind a large group of Gwinnett County schools.

Buoyed by the performances of its fall and winter sports teams which all saw postseason action, Pope finds itself in a similar position as it’s been in previous seasons — among the top three teams.

The Greyhounds saw the wrestling team capture the dual and traditional state championships — only one title counts in the Directors Cup standings — while the softball team finished as the state runner-up. Football, boys and girls cross country, volleyball, cheerleading, boys and girls swimming and diving and boys and girls basketball also all made the postseason.

It leaves the school in good position, particularly with the strength of many of its spring programs.

“It’s nothing I’m doing. I’m just going to the games,” quipped Pope athletic director Josh Mathews, who is in his first year in the position. “Seriously, it says a lot about our coaches and our student-athletes to be leading the Directors Cup. It’s been good to be a part of this success.

“All of our sports teams have made the playoffs, with softball leading us to a state runner-up that got us off to a good start in the fall. Then, volleyball and cross country perform well, and football made the postseason for the third straight year.

“Our wrestling team wins two state championships and both basketball teams make the playoffs. The swimming and diving teams performed well and cheerleading picked up some Cup points, too. I’ve been very pleased so far. It’s been fun to watch all of our teams play.”

Allatoona has seen similar success from its teams as football and softball both reached the final eight of the state playoffs. The wrestling team qualified for the state dual tournament for the first time and earned points from its showing at the traditional meet.

The Buccaneers’ volleyball and basketball teams both made it into the second round, while the boys and girls swimming and diving and cross country programs, as well as cheerleading, all played a role in Allatoona’s ranking.

“We’re thrilled to be where we are right now,” athletic director Benji Morrell said. “As a staff, we talk about the Directors Cup at the beginning of every year. In the beginning, we just wanted to score some points and, by Years 3 and 4, we wanted to be competing for it.

“With the move to Class AAAAA, we just wanted to see where we are, and we’re right up there. Our coaches are very competitive and they feel like we left some points on the table at the end of those fall and winter seasons. They’re looking at that cup, too.”

Since the inception of the Directors Cup in 1999-2000, only two Cobb County schools — Walton and Harrison — have claimed it, with the Raiders taking home five overall.

Harrison won the initial Class AAAAA crown in 2000-01, and Walton won the inaugural Class AAAA title in 1999-2000. The Raiders added a Class AAAAA title in 2001-02 and three consecutive honors from 2006-09.

The Directors Cup standings are determined by a team’s performance in the postseason. The scale ranges from 25 points (10 in a non-bracketed sport such as golf or track and field) to 100 for a state championship.

Over the last two seasons, Pope eventually fell behind Marist in Class AAAA, while Allatoona lost out to St. Pius X in Class AAA. With Marist and St. Pius now in different classifications, the two Cobb County schools have a stronger path to stay at the top.

“I think our spring sports are doing a good job so far,” Morrell said. “I think we have a shot at it even with the move up in classification. It shows that we’re a well-rounded program, not just a football or basketball school. We’re well across the board.”

Mathews is looking forward to see how the athletic seasons come to a close.

“Our girls soccer team has a chance to do well, and baseball, historically, has been competitive,” he said. “Our spring sports have a good history of success. It’s early now, and I think we’ll be even more competitive as the season moves on.”
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