Wheeler celebrating its athletic greats
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
September 19, 2013 11:12 PM | 1314 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wheeler High School will induct its sixth athletic hall of fame class this weekend, in conjunction with tonight’s home football game against Etowah.

The 2013 class — includes Josh Burrus, Byron Capers, Jeff Hollis, Chris Price, Steve Romine and the 1983 and ’84 softball teams — will be honored before tonight’s game. An official induction ceremony will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. inside the school’s cafeteria.

“This class represents a unique picture of Wheeler High School,” said Theresa Gernatt, a 2011 inductee and member of the hall of fame committee. “We took a cut from the class of older and newer graduates to help unite the community. We tried to find inductees from different sports and times and eras to represent different generations. I think this is a great class of inductees.”

Burrus, who graduated from Wheeler in 2001, became a starter on the Wildcats baseball team midway through his freshman season and held a spot for the rest of his career. A three-time all-region selection, Burrus was named to the Baseball America and USA Today All-America teams as a senior.

Though he signed to play at Clemson, Burrus was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 2001 draft — 29th overall — and chose to become a professional. He was the Braves’ minor league player of the year in 2005, when he batted a combined .263 with 28 doubles, 16 home runs and 74 RBIs at three different levels.

Burrus was never able to make the majors, however, last playing professionally in 2010.

Capers was a three-sport star at Wheeler from 1989-93, participating in football, basketball and track and field. He garnered most of his attention in football, making USA Today’s second-team All-America list in 1991 and earning first-team all-state accolades.

He played football at Florida State, where he started four years at defensive back and helped the Seminoles to a national championship following the 1993 season.

A first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection his senior year, Capers was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round of the 1997 NFL draft, but he saw his professional football success as a member of the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League.

After one season as an assistant coach in 1984, Hollis took the reins of Wheeler’s football program in 1985, beginning a 10-year run.

Following two seasons of rebuilding and a combined 6-13-1 mark, Hollis’ Wildcat teams produced seven consecutive seasons of 10 or more victories, four region championships and three sub-region titles. He concluded his 10-year head-coaching career at Wheeler with 84 wins.

Hollis, who also coached at Lovett, Cherokee and North Forsyth, retired from coaching after the 2006 season with 142 victories in 23 seasons.

Price excelled as a Wheeler wrestler from 1971-74. As a senior, he went 27-1 and won the Class AAA state championship at 112 pounds. He also won the Region 5AAA and Cobb County championships that year.

A drummer with the Wheeler marching band for three years, Price also excelled academically and received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. He retired from the Marines as a Major in 1998.

Romine played baseball and football from 1972-75. A three-year letter-winner in both sports, he was a member of the Wildcats’ state runner-up football team in 1973 and state championship baseball team in 1975.

Romine scored 28 touchdowns and had 1,900 all-purpose yards during his career at Wheeler. A .300 hitter in baseball, he went on to play collegiately at Chipola Junior College and Troy State University and was a 15th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1975.

The 1983 and ’84 Wheeler slow-pitch softball teams won a pair of Class AAAA state titles for coach Jim Mau, including a 27-5 record in 1984.

“I’m overwhelmed and humbled to be inducted in this class,” said Gernatt, who was a member of both state championship softball teams. “Having coached athletics, I know what an amazing feat it was to get back-to-back state titles and be a couple of balls and strikes away from three in a row.

“It’s an honor and an absolute privilege to have played with those girls and to be a member of this induction class.”

The general public can attend Saturday’s ceremony by contacting Wheeler athletic director Chase Stroempl at (770) 578-3266 or chase.stroempl@cobbk12.org.
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