February 25, 2013

What's Going On: Local rivals meeting up on the road

— Meeting on the big field only makes this one bigger for schools which could rightly be considered cousins.

Two local high school baseball programs — Coahulla Creek and Northwest Whitfield — will play one another for the first time Friday night. But it’s not at the Colts’ field in Varnell or the Bruins’ home in Tunnel Hill. The two schools, which are about 10 minutes away from each other will instead play at AT&T Park, the home of the minor league baseball’s Chattanooga Lookouts. First pitch is scheduled for 5:55 p.m.

It’s a special opportunity for these teenagers to share the same batters box as professionals — in a venue with more seats, brighter lights and bigger fences. It’ll also be a matchup between two schools that used to be one. Coahulla Creek formed for the 2011-2012 school year, and a lot of its student population came from Northwest and feeder middle school North Whitfield.

“They’re excited about it,” Bruins coach Todd Middleton said. “They’re excited to play some of their former teammates and friends and playing it on a big field. It will be fun.”

The Lookouts allow high school and middle school programs to play games at the field so long as the teams promote a game for the Double-A franchise. Coahulla Creek and Northwest each must sell 250 tickets to the April 7 Lookouts game.

“It was kind of an idea that we had whenever we were talking earlier in the year that would be kind of fun for the players,” Colts coach Michael Bolen said.

It’ll also be fun for spectators and fans to watch to of the top programs play one another. Last year, Coahulla Creek’s baseball team was the only one to make the Georgia High School Association playoffs. Northwest Whitfield was the only other local GHSA team to finish with an above-.500 record.

This season, the Colts are 1-1 while the Bruins start their schedule at 5 p.m. today at Christian Heritage.

“We look at each other and with their program being what it is, and with us being brand new starting up and having some early success, both coaches looked at one another as good programs,” Bolen said.

Both coaches said entrance to Friday’s game is free and will be preceded when New Hope Midde and North Whitfield Middle play one another.

• Christian Heritage’s baseball team has a three-game week, with each contest coming against a local school.

Including today’s game against Northwest, Christian Heritage hosts Coahulla Creek at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and travels to Southeast Whitfield at 5 p.m. Thursday. The Lions are not scheduled to play Dalton this season.

The only other game involving two local teams is Saturday when the Colts and the Catamounts start at 1 p.m. This is a rematch from last Thursday when Dalton won 5-1 in a rain-shortened game.

• One of the most interesting soccer sub-regions continues this week, with Dalton, Northwest and Southeast all competing against the other three teams in 7B-4A.

The Cats host Heritage-Catoosa on Tuesday, the Raiders host Ridgeland on Friday and the Bruins travel to Ridgeland Tuesday and host LaFayette on Thursday. The Lady Bruins start both their games at 5 p.m., with the boys following. The Lady Cats’ and Lady Raiders’ two sub-region games begin at 5:30 p.m., with the boys following.

• Track and field teams begin competitions this week, with Saturday’s Northwest Invitational featuring four local teams.

The event begins at 9 a.m. Dalton, Murray County, Northwest and Southeast all will compete. Paulding County, Cobb County’s Class 6A Lassiter and Heritage-Catoosa round out the field, but Northwest boys coach Chad Brewer is hoping for an eighth school to give participants more competition in the early tuneup.

“We’re trying to get one more team,” he said. “We’ve got some information sent out there, but we just haven’t heard.

“It’s just an early meet to get kids in some type of competitive situation. It’s really the first meet everybody tries to line up a team and get relays right.”

Devin Golden is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. His ears are still buzzing from all of the planes landing at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after Saturday night’s trip to College Park. Got something you think should be in What’s Going On? Contact him at devingolden@daltoncitizen.com.