Dalton High School Catamounts

May 14, 2013

Cheaves has helped Cats soccer be consistent

Since Matt Cheaves was hired as coach, Dalton High School’s boys soccer program has accumulated 17 state tournament berths, nine quarterfinals appearances, a runner-up finish and one state championship.

As one rival coach described, the Catamounts have become “a model of consistency” for soccer programs across the area.

Dalton hosts Griffin’s Spalding in the Class 4A state semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Harmon Field, and a win sends the Cats to a state title match for the first time since 2004. Northwest Whitfield hosts Southeast Whitfield at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the other Class 4A semifinal, and the championship is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Kennesaw State University.

Under Cheaves, Dalton has built quite a reputation both locally and across the state. The team is in the state tournament for the 13th straight year, and the Cats have made 16 of 17 and 17 of 19 state tournaments. This season, they are 20-0 and ranked No. 1 by eurosportscoreboard.com’s Class 4A poll and maxpreps.com’s national poll.

“All those years of making state,” said Northwest coach Ryan Scoggins, who has been the Bruins’ coach since 2007. “They are a model of consistency.”

When Cheaves became coach in 1995, beating Dalton didn’t mean as much.

“Darlington was the team to beat in Northwest Georgia,” Cheaves said. “They were the boarding school with foreign students. The first time we played them, we beat them.”

Cheaves was named divarsity.com’s Class 4A Boys Coach of the Year this season, the first time he has received the honor, and he was recognized for the achievement by the Dalton school board at its meeting Monday night.

“It’s nice, but it’s a result of what the team has done and is doing. I’m just the coach,” Cheaves said. “To me, the assistant coaches (Blair Chlebisch and Jim Wickes) and players, they’re the ones who got this award.”

Before coming to Dalton — Bill Chappell was athletic director when he was hired — Cheaves was a player/coach for the soccer club at West Georgia College, where he finished his education degree. He was one of the founding players for Clayton State University’s program, where he played center midfield, and he played in high school at DeKalb Christian.

Ron Ward, Dalton’s athletic director since 2010, said Cheaves has had “a direct influence” on the program’s success.

“He’s a very good tactician and strategist,” Ward said. “He’s very good at getting his players to buy into his system. He’s very good at building the program throughout the district, both at the high school level and (below). He’s very quiet and unassuming, but he knows how to build a championship program. The fact that this has gone on year after year is not a coincidence.”

The majority of Dalton’s soccer players are Hispanic. Ward referenced the popularity of the sport among that demographic, and Cheaves said many on his roster played the sport enough to know correct technique before reaching high school.

He believes his job as the coach is to strengthen work ethic and teach the team’s offensive and defensive schemes.

“We already know (how to play),” said senior Ramiro Huitanda, a striker who has a school record of 46 goals this season. “He just teaches us to learn how to do it the right way. It’s the little things like keeping up with your man.”

Dalton was the Class 4A runner-up to Woodward Academy in 2004, a year after tying Heritage-Rockdale 1-1 to share the Class 4A championship. Since 2002, the Cats have made it to at least the second round each season except 2007 and 2009. Dalton won the Region 7-4A title this year for its 12th league title overall.

All of it happened under the leadership of Cheaves, who said Dalton High soccer receives much more attention now than it used to.

“The popularity has increased. We went from a sport than never made any money and didn’t have strong attendance,” he said. “Now the attendance is strong, especially for big games. We have fantastic crowds. The level of play has risen a lot.”

1
Text Only
Dalton High School Catamounts
  • NW_DHS Swimming 6 mlh.jpg Todd leaving DHS swim after 16 years

    Throughout his 17 years with the Carpet Capital Aquatic Club and his 16 years with the Dalton High and Dalton Middle School swim programs, Charles Todd has received looks and offers from other areas.
    But with his youngest child Chase still in school and his wife playing a major role in the Whitfield County Division of Family and Children Services, Todd wasn’t looking to make a move.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7on7 championship game6.jpg Bringing in the best

    When high school football coaches look for events to take their teams to during the summer, they are looking for three things — top competition, organization and hospitality.
    For The Daily Citizen’s Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship, the Dalton community and local business leaders take care of the latter. The tournament officials work tirelessly to provide the organization. And the two combined assure the top competition will show up.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wil Cushman 3 mlh.jpg Cushman’s gamble is paying off

    Wil Cushman never had to worry about establishing his high school’s swimming and diving program. Dalton already had a full roster and championship history.
    His first two years at Birmingham Southern University, though, have been all about making sure the beginning wasn’t the end.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NW softball state championship file 1 mlh.jpg In the lineup again

    When Northwest Whitfield repeated as the Georgia High School Association Class 4A softball state champion last fall, that appeared to be the last time the majority of the Lady Bruins’ senior class would be teammates on the diamond.
    Now, thanks to the Stump on Sports All-Star Softball Classic, five of those six seniors will reunite to play together one more time.

    June 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Junior golf: Hicks able to hang for final round

    Despite giving up a few strokes from Monday’s opening round of 4-over-par 76, Dalton’s Landon Hicks was the only local competitor to advance to the third round of the Georgia Junior Championships.

    June 18, 2014

  • Isabel Salinas 5 mlh.jpg All-Area Spring Female Team: Salinas hoping things keep getting better and better with age

    Isabel Salinas’ freshman season for Southeast Whitfield High School’s track and field team wasn’t up to her standards, and she really isn’t sure why it ended up that way in 2013. It could have been her injuries. It could have been not being in proper shape.
    One thing Salinas, nicknamed “Izzy” by friends and coaches, does know is that her sophomore year went a lot better.

    June 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • poty seth.jpg All-Area Baseball Team and Player of the Year

    As a freshman at Northwest Whitfield High School, Seth Pierce came out of nowhere and was as dominant a pitcher as the area had. Finishing his “rookie” season with the Bruins, the left-handed Pierce led the area with nine victories — he also had one save — and showed overpowering dominance with a 9-3 record and 89 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He finished his first season on the hill in Tunnel Hill with a 1.71 ERA while allowing 61 hits and 23 walks. Those numbers were also recorded against competition in a higher classification as the Bruins were playing Class 4A ball when the state had just five classifications. His performance earned him honors as 2012 The Daily Citizen All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carlile signing 3 mlh.jpg Carlile gets a chance to grind

    As Dylan Carlile saw more and more of his peers receiving offers from college wrestling programs, he became nervous.
    The Dalton High School grappler had nothing to worry about, because when the time came, he had his choice.

    May 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • daltongirls.JPG Dalton girls finish second in Class 4A

    In the Class 4A girls state golf tournament last year, the Dalton High School team finished third at Nob North Golf Course. Monday, playing in the state championship at Waynesboro Country Club, the Lady Catamounts finished second by just two strokes.
    “There is just one more place left to win,” Dalton coach Nancy Hallsworth said. “They have the time ahead of them to do it.”

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • dhs bass signing1.jpg Nelson keeps a tight line

    Multiple high school athletes from the area sign scholarships each year for baseball, basketball, football, softball, volleyball and many other sports.
    Bass fishing scholarships? There aren’t many of those.

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo