Prep golf: Scott, Poca set for regional showdown
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It might seem like the Poca High School golf program is always the bridesmaid, because since 2010 that's exactly what the Dots were.
For the last three years, Poca has finished second in the team results of the Class AA State Golf Tournament, but that's not what keeps Coach Doug Smith going.
Even after retiring in June from teaching health and physical education at Poca, the 64-year-old Smith isn't as concerned about winning a state title for himself.
That's why he's stuck around and is in his 28th season as coach.
"When you have kids who have put that much into it, played that well and get that close, it bothers me," said Smith, whose Dots will seek a berth in the State Tournament in Monday's Class AA Region 4 championships at Big Bend Golf Course in Tornado.
Poca and Scott are heavily favored to earn spots in the State Tournament Oct. 8-9 at Oglebay Park's Robert Trent Jones Course in Wheeling. The two lowest-scoring teams and the two lowest-scoring individuals not on those teams from Monday's regional qualify for the 36-hole State Tournament. The regional field includes Chapmanville Regional, Clay County, Herbert Hoover, Mingo Central, Nicholas County, Tolsia, Sissonville and Wayne.
The Dots lost the 2010 title to Ritchie County by five strokes, although Poca's George Hamrick claimed Class AA medalist honors.
In 2011, it was again the Rebels to stop the Dots. Poca trailed by eight strokes after the first round, but lost by three. Hamrick's 2-under 69 on the second day vaulted him to medal honors for the second consecutive year.
Last year the Dots led by three strokes entering the second round, but lost to Roane County by three. Travis Covert - joined by Alex Hamrick as the only two Poca players to compete in last year's State Tournament - finished third.
The Dots will rely heavily on three players - Covert, Hamrick and sophomore David Scragg. They'll play four in the competition, but count the low three scores for the team point total.
That has been the key this season for the Dots, who will play four but aren't expecting a low number from their No. 4, Caleb Luikart.
"These guys can't afford to have a bad day," Smith said. "They've known that all year. They played lights out all season. They've struggled a little bit, but not enough to have an impact on what we've done. You have to count four scores during the season and it takes its toll on winning matches."
One of their four was going to be senior Evan Butcher, who tied for 22nd at last year's State Tournament. However, Butcher's father Jim is a Baptist minister and was transferred from Poca to Madison and his sons - Evan and Jonathan - play for Coach Jim Bob Brown at Scott.
Sterling Chafin, Aaron Grant and Nick Dolan round out the roster for the Skyhawks, who finished fifth at the State Tournament last year.
No matter what Scott or Poca do at the regional on Monday, Roane County remains the heavy favorite to repeat as state champion.
The Raiders remain the state's deepest team - perhaps in any class. Sophomore twin brothers Cole and Camden Moore, their freshman brother Caleb Moore, 2012 double-A medalist and senior Alston Spears, and fellow senior Hunter Simmons make up Roane.
However, the format takes all but four of Roane's players out of the mix.
"As far as depth, I would say they might be the best team in the state," Smith said.