Dalton and Southeast Whitfield each are known for boys soccer and making it to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs was an expectation. When Northwest Whitfield and North Murray joined them in their respective classes, it became a story.
The Class 4A Bruins became a dangerous traveling band, beating Flowery Branch 1-0 in the first round for the program’s first postseason victory since 2007, and then beat Houston County in penalty kicks to advance to the quarterfinals. The Class 2A Mountaineers — fresh off capturing the Region 7-2A title, the first for the school — won a pair of close matches, 2-1 versus Dawson County and 1-0 against Toombs County. Dalton and Southeast, with three combined appearances in the state-title match, rolled through the first two rounds by a combined score of 18-4.
Those four teams making the state playoffs marked the most for the Whitfield-Murray counties area.
An NFL visit
It wasn’t the first time the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans practiced together.
It was the first time here.
The two NFL franchises had practiced together twice before, in Chattanooga in 1997 and in Nashville in 2004, and the newest Whitfield County high school became another middle ground to offer fans a treat.
Coahulla Creek’s football stadium, which at the time hadn’t staged a real football game yet, became the home to both the Falcons and Tennessee Titans for an entire day of team-on-team scrimmages. Whether it was the Falcons’ offense versus the Titans’ defense, or vice versa, fans packed the Varnell bleachers and local high school football players crowded the fences to watch the professional athletes show off their talents in close range. More than 100 high school football players from Coahulla Creek, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield flocked to the site to watch.
Just making it to Columbus wasn’t good enough. Not after having already made it twice before.
The Northwest Whitfield softball team sent its senior class out in style with the Class 4A state championship, the first fast-pitch softball state title in program history. Behind the rocket arm of senior ace Emily Boyd, and the timely hitting throughout the lineup, the Lady Bruins went 12-0 from the start of the Region 7-4A tournament all the way through Bayli Cruse’s walk-off, title-winning homerun in the 2-1 extra-innings finale.
After finishing fourth at state in 2011, and third in 2009, it was title-or-bust time.
After Shane Ramsey resigned and soon after took the head coach job for Dalton baseball, Jason Brooker took charge as the new leader for Northwest softball. The Lady Bruins posted a 35-3 overall record and went undefeated in region play. They spent much of the year in the top spot of Ga.PrepCountry.com’s Class 4A coaches poll.