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HUBBARD: Handful of qualities makes a championship team
Column on state champs

Down in Macon last week, the Social Circle Lady Redskins added to an already monumental season by capturing the 2022 Class A-Public state championship. After falling down 3-1 in the first half, the Lady Redskins forced overtime and completed a 6-4 comeback victory. 

It was, indeed, a remarkable sight to see. Was I impressed? Absolutely. Was I shocked? Not one bit. Because head coach Heather Richardson told me before the season even began that she was excited for this team. 

Furthermore, Richardson compared the 2022 squad to the one she coached at Social Circle in 2017 — a team that was knocked off in the semifinal game. Richardson said she believed that this year’s team could go even further and they did. 

But, what made this collection of players the team to win it all for the Lady Redskins? In my opinion, it’s three-fold. 

Senior Leadership 

In 2022, Social Circle had 10 seniors on its roster with a good portion of the class exemplifying stellar leadership. Each senior contributed in one way or another. 

It all started with Tess Preston and Rory Stowe. 

All throughout the year, Richardson recognized Stowe as the one who helped “hold it down” as the leader on defense. Preston seemed to be the all-around leader for the Lady Redskins this season. 

Then, there’s Kaylee Connell and Taylor Wright on the wings. The left footer Connell seemed to always be the one delivering impressive crosses from the left side of the formation while Wright was doing the same from the right. 

Adding senior leadership to the back line of defense was Morgan Chambers, who helped rattle opposing offenses through most of the season. Midfielder Olivia Cross heavily contributed to the team’s success with timely passes, goals and plays she made throughout the year. 

Not to mention Gracie Barts, Emma Shane, Aubrey Ergle and Amelia Leigh who each stepped in their own way and played a pivotal role in the state championship run. 

Young stars make presence known

Complimenting all the aforementioned senior leadership were some underclassmen who really made names for themselves in 2022. 

The first two names that come to mind are Peyton Brooks and Alana Ferguson. 

Ferguson, a freshman, seemed to be flying all over the field this past season. She never gave up on the ball, even if it was hopeless for her to catch up. But that determination helped her score on many occasions. Sophomore Brooks exploded onto the scene leading the team in scoring but, like Ferguson, Brooks’ determination and quickness on the field assisted with her final tally at the season’s end. 

Defensively, the Lady Redskins have freshmen Faith Young and Claire Ray returning to lead them on the back end of the formation. Young seemed to play toward center-defense while Ray played sporadically across the formation. Ironically, though they played defense, they each scored three goals in 2022, too. 

Arguably the most difficult position to find a player for in soccer is a goalkeeper. Well, the Lady Redskins seemed to have found the cornerstone of their defense in freshman Addie Stracner. Whenever the Lady Redskins needed a crucial save or stop, Stracner would seemingly always be in the right place to make a play. 

Right pieces at the right time

State championships don’t come easy for any team in any sport. A lot of things have to fall in place for a team to attain the ultimate prize. The same thing is true for this year’s Lady Redskins squad. 

Timing played a huge part in Social Circle capturing the state title. I firmly believe that, if any of the players mentioned above were missing, this season would’ve played out totally different. 

Now, I’m not saying they wouldn’t have made the playoffs or something in that nature. However, it would’ve significantly impacted this year’s result.

Yes, the 10 seniors provided much needed senior leadership and experience and the younger players seemed to provide the spark. But, if there was only senior leadership and no spark or vice versa, a state title dream may not have come to reality for the Lady Redskins. 

Every player served in an integral role in the Lady Redskins going 24-1 overall and winning the region and state titles. I have to say, too, to close out this column that it was super fun following this team most of the season. 

You could tell this team genuinely cares for one another and their coach and they each would’ve done anything to help accomplish the ultimate goal. On top of that, each player seemed to have the time of their lives while out there playing the sport they love. 

And that ladies and gentleman is what makes a state championship team.

Phillip B. Hubbard is sports editor for The Covington News. Reach him at