An outstanding sports year for the entire county is wrapped up with a celebration of a tremendous soccer season.
On top of the state championship by the McIntosh girls team, the McIntosh boys continued their unbelievable run in 2014. The Chiefs wrapped up the year with an 8-1 thrashing of Houston County in the state championship game.
They weren't the only playoff team in county. Starr's Mill reached the postseason yet again, though they were upset in the first round by Warner Robins.
Our Lady of Mercy strung together an amazing season. The Bobcats won their first region title and kept building from there. Mercy won two playoff games before falling in the Final Four to the eventual champs from Paideia.
Even on a loaded team, the player earning top honors was a clear choice. Adam Sheikali of McIntosh is the Player of the Year. Sheikali was the focal point of an extremely potent Chief attack, also earning Player of the Year honors from the AJC and Gatorade. Sheikali, a senior midfielder, tallied 20 goals, including two in the championship game, along with 16 assists. He has signed to play next year at Boston University.
Asked what makes Sheikali special, his coach, Bunky Colvin responded, "It is the fact that he can balance between competitive greatness and compassionate greatness, I have never known anyone who can do it better. He balances his competitive nature with the greatest capacity for compassion and true care for others. In the many years I have known him I have rarely seen any evidence that Adam thinks about himself before others."
Along with such a tremendous season come more honors for the Chiefs. Bunky Colvin is the Coach of the Year. Colvin, the reigning national coach of the year, led his team to a second consecutive state title and ranking as the top team in the country. Colvin's Chiefs are currently riding a 45 game winning streak and have outscored opponents 271 to 9 over the last two seasons.
The All-County First Team is a special batch that you could put up against any crew around the nation.
The forwards are Didrik Cooper-Seip of McIntosh, Walter Hix of Starr's Mill, and Nick Wells of Our Lady of Mercy.
Cooper-Seip, a junior, scored 25 points along with 11 assists. Hix, a senior, tallied 16 goals and 12 assists. Wells, a senior, led the Bobcats with 25 goals and 17 assists in 14 games.
The midfield is made up of Sheikali and his McIntosh teammate Chris Dognazzi along with Whitewater's Aaron Benson.
Dognazzi, a senior, scored 13 goals and 10 assists. Along with his brother, Matt, the Dognazzi brothers never lost a game at McIntosh in two years on JV and two on varsity. Benson, a senior captain, tallied 13 goals and 13 assists.
The defense consists of Starr's Mill's Tylan Jones and Neil Oxendine and McIntosh's Daichi Uki and Matt Dognazzi. Jones, a senior, tallied seven goals and six assists. Oxendine, a senior, notched one goal. Uki, a junior, piled up nine assists along with two goals. Dognazzi, a senior, scored three goals with three assists.
The first team keeper is Spencer Wrobleski. Wrobleski, a senior, rewrote the record books for McIntosh, setting new marks for career and season shutouts.
The All-County second team is also ridiculously loaded with talent.
The forwards are Ryan Grbac of Fayette County, Christopher Avery of Sandy Creek, and Minh Bui of Our Lady of Mercy.
Grbac, a senior, racked up 11 goals and six assists in just 13 games for the Tigers. Avery, a junior, set a new Patriot record with 18 goals, along with six assists. Bui, a junior, piled up 15 goals and 16 assists for the Bobcats.
The midfield is made up of Tyler Annis of Starr's Mill, Nick Alvey of McIntosh, and Eddy Pineda of Whitewater. Annis, a junior, keyed an explosive Panther attack. Alvey, a senior, scored 16 goals with 10 assists. Pineda, a senior, tallied six goals and three assists for the Wildcats.
The defense consists of Nick Bottka of Whitewater, Shawn Williams of Fayette County, and McIntosh's Branden Collins and Christian Slepicka. Bottka, a senior captain, anchored the back end for Whitewater while tallying one goal and six assists. Williams, a senior captain, was a powerful defender for the Tigers who has signed with Piedmont College. Collins, a senior, and Slepicka, a junior, were key components in a Chief defense that held opponents to seven goals all season.
The keeper is Mitch Pattison of Starr's Mill. Pattison, a junior, boasts a sparking 0.9 goals per game average.
There are still so many local players deserving of recommendations, leaving an impressive batch of honorable mentions. Fayette County's honorees are Diego Milessi and Carlos Naranjo. Sandy Creek's honorees are Kyle Stevens, Hayden Billingsley, and Jonathan Timm. Whitewater's honoree is Zach Birkhead. Our Lady of Mercy's honorees are Jacob Kulwicki, Dylan Eckert, Charley Feldner, Peyton Cuttino, and Gabriel Ryce. Starr's Mill's honorees are Tristan Ulversoy, Brandon Oot, Curtis Fogg, and Sam Roberson. McIntosh's honorees are Aaron Brewer, Connor Halmi, Ian Berryman, Justin Magee, Luke Mohney, Evan Leavitt, and Brandon Bernard.