Sophomores have a strong presence in this year's North Augusta High School golf program, and the overall mix has the Yellow Jackets ranked third in the state among AAAA teams.
Matthew Baxley, a sophomore, is in the No. 1 spot. His teammates, in order of their recent standing, include senior Brenden Tigert, sophomore Davis Neal, senior Trey Stallings and junior Mitchell McNeil. Completing the list are junior Darien Dorn, freshman Jackson Griffen, sophomore Brad Gibbs, sophomore Kenny Middlebrooks and freshman Drew Huckaby.
The Jackets, heading into Masters week, had not lost a match. The most recent state rankings have A.C. Flora atop the heap, with Greenville second. Following the Jackets, in order, are Beaufort, Eastside, Hilton Head, May River, North Myrtle Beach, Hartsville and Catawba Ridge.
Travis Spears, North Augusta's coach, offered a comment on the strength of his team, writing that "we have five guys that on any given day can be the No. 1 man, and this has built a friendly team competition and great team chemistry."
The Jackets' two seniors, Tigert and Stallings, have at least one unusual trait in common, in that both have signed to play next year for North Greenville University.
Tigert is among the newcomers, having transferred from Calvary Day School, in Savannah. He commented on the Jackets' status heading into their spring break. "We have the talent to win. We just haven't produced yet, and that's what we're focusing on: mentally getting prepared to play at a high level," he said.
Assessing some of the teams in close proximity to North Augusta, Tigert said Aquinas, in Augusta, and South Aiken are among the top competitors.
The Region 5-AAAA tournament is set for May 5, and the state tournament is to be May 17-18.