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Fall 2017 Bulldog Update

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Volleyball    By: Jake Miller

Every team at Decatur has a pregame routine. For the boys soccer team, it’s their spaghetti dinners before each game. Girls soccer paints the faces of their freshman teammates before their first home game every year.

The volleyball team has a bus. According to senior Ivey Andrews, this is the constant they rely on week in and week out.

“We play four games a week, so we are together a lot traveling places,” she said. “It’s fun because we get to know each other.”

For a team playing a forty-game season, this bonding time is more influential than any organized activity. As they enter the state playoffs, the team remains as strong as ever.

“The best thing about this team is that we’re all friends on and off the court,” senior Lillian Fantz said. “I think the chemistry we have is definitely why we’ve been this successful.”

As the only seniors, Andrews and Fantz have had to assume much larger leadership roles this year. At the same time, younger players have been thrust into situations that require them to “grow up fast,” according to Andrews.

And that they have. Sitting at 33-10, the Bulldogs finished second in their region–a similar position to the senior-led team of the previous year–leaving them with high hopes for this year’s playoffs.


 

Cross Country   By: Max Tirouvanziam

Mary Souther
Senior Talmadge Studstill, Junior Sam Amick and Freshman Eoin McNally charge to the front of the pack. Amick, McNally and Studstill are attempting to lead the team to a second straight region championship.

Every year, seniors move on and leave vital positions to be filled. That’s the nature of high school sports. And so, every year, the former JV captain plays, runs or swims varsity, and the athlete who barely made the varsity squad previously plays a prominent role in representing Decatur.

This is especially true in cross country, where individual performances are independent of each other, but team strategy and results are based heavily on the capabilities of a team’s runners.

On the boys side, Sam Ellis, now running for Princeton, consistently placed first in meets last year and led the team to a region title. This took lots of pressure off of other runners, who could rely on Ellis to get a big share of the team’s points.

Junior Sam Amick has taken the role of #1 runner, and other returning runners, including fellow junior Graham Cattanach, have had to push themselves to get the team back to its state-contender level.

“Last year there was a big range of times on varsity from Sam to the seventh-place runner,” Cattanach said. “Now, there are six runners with [5K] times under 18 minutes, so it’s a much more solid team overall.”

The boys team has also gotten a boost from a strong freshman class, including the team’s current second-fastest runner, Eoin McNally.

Another inherent part of cross country is internal competition for spots on varsity. Depending on personal times and finishes in relation to others on the team, a runner could be competing with the first team for one meet and on JV the next. But according to sophomore Emily Pollack, this aspect has a positive effect on the team.

“There’s a personal motivation in running because you want to make varsity, but it helps push you forward to do your best in meets and practice,” she said.

Pollack is part of the girls who also won region last year and finished sixth in the state meet in Carrollton. The team is led again by sophomore Haley Rose, who consistently runs times around 19 minutes.

Having finished the regular season after seven meets, the team has turned towards their ever-important region meet on Oct. 26. If both teams finish in the top three, they will contend for the prized state championship on Nov. 3.

“It’s really hilly and dusty and there’s lots of people,” Cattanach said about his previous times running the state meet. “So it’s not ideal. But every year the ultimate goal is winning state, and the other teams are good, so it’s fun at the same time.”


 

Softball   By: Jonathan Paden

Keson Graham
Senior Audrey Wheeler, a catcher, is part of a senior group that has played on varsity for four years.

 

For the last three years, the Lady Dogs softball team has experienced success in the region, but have failed to get far in the state playoffs. This year, they hope to break the trend.

Led by a star-studded lineup of juniors and seniors, this team is preparing for a deep run in the playoffs, starting with the region tournament.

“Our season last year didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we’ve put that behind us,” junior Isabel Wiltse said. “Right now, we are focused on taking it a game at a time and as long as we do our job, the rest will handle itself.”

The region has been picked apart by the Lady Dogs as they have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 102-13 in a span of seven games.

In their 18-0 win over Grady, head coach Allison Paul loved the way her team came out and dominated from opening pitch.

“We jumped out the gates and took them out of the game early on,” Paul said. “The score just goes to show the work that we have put in during the practices.”

Going into the region tournament, the softball team wanted to continue the trend of defeating their region opponents. The end result was a two game sweep of North Springs in the championship game.

“It was a great way to end the regular season,” Paul said.  “We just need to continue to do the little things right and we will be just fine.”

However, not all of the team’s success have come in wins and losses. Some have come with the tight relationships that have formed.

“We have probably been so successful this year because of how close we are as a team. We treat each other like family and it helps us bond on and off the field.”

The Lady Dogs began their quest for a state championship when they hosted Southwest DeKalb on Wednesday, Oct. 11.


 

Football   By: Chris Rosselot

Senior Kaden Spann plays running back and saftey for the bulldogs. After an upsetting loss on Aug. 11 against McIntosh, Spann reflected on the mark he’ll leave on the program. “Decatur football is ready for a new legacy,” he said. “That’s the mark I want to leave on this team.”

 

“This year we’re playing more for each other than anything I’ve ever seen,” junior running back Martize Smith said.

Smith held lead roles as Prince Charming and The Wolf in the fall musical “Into the Woods,” and also participates in JROTC, all while staying committed to the football team. Head Coach Cody Cory has heavily encouraged his players to become involved in a wide variety of extracurricular activities and holds Smith up as an example.

“[Football] should be fun, and you should experience these different activities while you’re in high school,” Cory said. “That’s why I encourage kids to do as many extracurriculars as they can.”

Despite not caring as much about wins and losses, the football team has already increased the number in the win category from last season. After beating Grady by a score of 48-21 on Sept. 22, the team has already improved on their 1-9 record of the 2016 season.

A week and a half later, on Wed., Oct. 4, the team was supposed to have a shorter practice, but was running behind schedule. Cory called the players in and gave them the option to either finish at the moment, on time, or take 20 more minutes to finish the script. As a team, they decided to stay for these extra 20 minutes, Cory said.

“A lot of people only see the box score,” Cory said. “But that’s the not the true result of how our kids have worked, and how our kids have been successful and how they’ve fought for one another and how they’ve tried to make a change and be the change.”

Two nights later, the team beat another team they had lost to in 2016, Riverwood, with a 14-12 win. As of Oct. 9, the team had a record of 3-3. Two of these three losses came against McIntosh and North Springs, teams that have a combined 9-3 record. In second place in the region as of Oct. 9, both Smith and Cory see the team positioned in a good spot for a playoff run. Regardless of the season’s outcome, Cory cares most about how his players develop as people.

“This may not be a biological family,” Cory said. “But at the end of the day you’re supposed to look out for each other and build relationships with each other.”

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About the Writers
Jake Miller, Carpe Diem Sports and Features Editor

Jake Miller (Class of 2018) does many things, none of which you need to know about. He has been given too much leadership this year and the program will...

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Decatur High School, GA
Fall 2017 Bulldog Update