(Photo Courtesy of Lassiter Lacrosse/Instagram)
While many parts of the country may only be a at the halfway point of the 2021 high school season, many states in the South are either on the back half of the regular season or already in playoff mode, except for the NCHSAA (North Carolina) who crowned their state champions almost a full month ago.
After seeing Florida and South Carolina get their state tournaments underway last week, Georgia (GHSA) and Texas (THSLL) get underway this week.
Here is a brief overview of each of the 5A and 7A state tournaments in Georgia, as well as some players to keep an eye on during each tournament.
The 5A state tournament will get underway on April 28th with the first round and end on May 15th with a champion being crowned at Denmark High School.
The absolute team to beat in 5A this season is Blessed Trinity (17-0). The Titans come into the state tournament as the only undefeated team in the state and having passed every single test thrown at them this season, sporing wins over traditional state powers such as Lambert, Milton, and others. The Titans are the sure-fire favorites to win the title. They open up tournament play against Effingham County (7-7).
While Blessed Trinity is the clear favorite coming into the tournament, some other teams that could be contenders and deserve some eyeballs include Starr’s Mill (12-6) and Westminster (10-4), who’s the defending champions from 2019. Both have earned some solid wins this season and have been very competitive in their games against top-tier teams. Westminster is on the same side of the bracket as Blessed Trinity while Starr’s Mill is on the opposite side.
Players to Watch
Wilson Van Buren, Faceoff, Blessed Trinity, Junior (Darthmouth commit) – Van Buren has been a huge part of the Titan’s undefeated run this season, being able to provide a possession advantage and creating early offense. Van Buren is not only one of the best at the dot in the Peach State, but arguably the most impactful player for Blessed Trinity.
Taji Flynn, Defense, Westminster, Senior (Ohio State signee) – The recent Ohio State signee has been a major part of a strong Westminster defense this season. Flynn has helped the Wildcats’ defense only allow double digit goals once this season.
The 7A state tournament will get underway on April 28th with the first round and end on May 15th with a champion being crowned at Denmark High School.
The right side of the bracket, and particularly the bottom right region, appears to be the most loaded and toughest. Two of the top teams in the state this season: Lambert (17-1) and Lassiter (15-3) are both in that same region and could very well meet in the quarterfinals. Additionally, Milton (8-6) is another strong program in that region and will likely face Lassiter in the second round. Lambert and Lassiter haven’t faced each other this season, but the Longhorns did beat Milton 5-4 in February. Milton beat Lassiter 6-7.
Outside of that very strong region, 2019 champion Walton (11-6) and Allatoona (16-2) are two tough teams in that first region. Roswell (13-4) and Johns Creek (13-4) are two other teams to keep an eye on with both having the ability to find themselves coming out of their respective regions into the semifinals.
Players to Watch
Hill Plunkett, Attack, Roswell, Sophomore – Alongside his older brother, Evan, who is headed to West Point this fall, the attackman has been one of the stars of a very strong Roswell team this spring as both a traditional X attackman and all-around playmaker.
Andrew Atchison, Attack, Lassiter, Senior (Denver signee) – The recent all-american selection has been The Man for this Lassiter offense this season, making an impact in multitude of ways. He has notched 62 goals and 32 assists for 94 points heading into the playoffs.
Danny Kesselring, Attack, Lambert, Junior – The junior attackman has been an absolute offensive weapon for the Longhorns this season, being one of their most consistent weapons on that end of the field.