Pope, Walton rise to Directors Cup
by Carlton D. White
June 01, 2014 04:00 AM | 2565 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ryan Heins and the boys tennis team was second in the state, providing Pope with one of its final boosts toward the Class AAAAA Directors Cup.
<br>Special photo by Cecil Copeland
Ryan Heins and the boys tennis team was second in the state, providing Pope with one of its final boosts toward the Class AAAAA Directors Cup.
Special photo by Cecil Copeland
Walton retained its hold as the elite athletic program in Class AAAAAA, while Pope served notice that it’s coming for the Raiders’ crown.

Pope won the Directors Cup for Class AAAAA, matching the honor received by Walton, its future region rival in the retooled Region 5AAAAAA.

Walton scored 1,228.5 points on a scale that gives a school more points the further a team advances in a state competition. After beating Brookwood by only 1.5 points last year, the Walton easily outdistanced Brookwood this year, with the Broncos’ programs accounting for 1,048 points.

Harrison (982.5) was fifth, with Lassiter (802) ninth and Kennesaw Mountain (801) 10th. Hillgrove (794) and North Cobb (672) also placed in the top 20. Among girls programs, Walton and Harrison finished 1-2.

Walton benefited by capturing state championships in boys swimming, volleyball and girls tennis — each of which were worth 100 points in the Directors Cup race.

Walton won the Cup for the sixth time since the award was first given out in 2001-02.

“It’s a tremendous honor to win the Directors Cup,” said first-year Walton athletic director Chris Williams, who took over after predecessor Christian Suttle became the principal at Hillgrove. “We try to do the best we can in everything we do. Sometimes, it works out for us, and this was one of those times. It’s great to be able compete for it, and it’s humbling to win it two years in a row now.”

Several teams made deep runs into the postseason to contribute to Walton’s points total.

The girls lacrosse and girls golf teams were state runners-up, while the girls cross country and boys lacrosse teams each added 80 or more points to the team total. The boys golf, track and field and soccer teams also performed well, as did the girls swimming and track and field teams.

“We had a tremendous senior class that helped get those points,” Williams said. “We’re use to volleyball and girls tennis doing well, but the girls lacrosse and golf teams getting state runner-ups was the best finish those teams ever had. That was big for us.

“The great thing about winning this award is the community effort that goes into it and the team of coaches and players and staff that get together to make it all work. It’s everybody contributing that brings this kind of recognition to our school.”

Walton will have a new competitor for its crown after Pope won in its final year in Class AAAAA. The Greyhounds won the Directors Cup for the first time after scoring 1,060 points to beat last year’s winner, McIntosh (1,012).

Allatoona (832), which finished second to Pope among boys sports, was fifth overall.

It’s a nice going-away present for Pope, which placed in the top three each of the last three years.

“In December, when we found out we were going back up to AAAAAA, there was some disappointment,” Pope athletic director Josh Mathews said. “The basketball team saw it differently. They picked up a ‘#5Afarewell’ tour and took it as a rally cry for the rest of their season. It was like their slogan.

“By the end of the season, the track team had a rally cry, too, of, ‘Why not us? Why not Pope?,’ because they felt like they had a shot at the state championship. It developed into a situation where, if we’re going to leave, then let’s finish the year the best way we possibly can.”

Pope did just that, winning a dual state title in wrestling and claiming runner-up finishes in boys tennis and girls track and field. Softball, boys lacrosse and girls soccer reached the semifinals, and girls golf and girls lacrosse also had strong finishes.

The boys and girls golf teams reached the state tournament field for the first time.

“The spring coaches knew that, if we could go deep into the playoffs, we’d have a great chance (at winning the Cup),” Mathews said. “Last year, we didn’t get that help, so we came up short.

“This accomplishment is a testament to the relentless effort of our coaches to be successful, and the impressive and extraordinary ability of our student-athletes in their sports and in the classroom. That’s how you accomplish this. The community support we’ve received has been tremendous, and all of those things deserve all of the credit for this.”
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