Class of 2009 has thrown down the gauntlet
While the Class of 2009 prepares to take the big walk on Friday, it's hard not to point to this most recent group of graduates and acknowledge its contributions to Rockdale athletics.
Jarad Richards just led the Tiger hardball team to its first playoff appearance in a decade and posted two victories.
The football team also posted its best season since 1998 with nine wins and a playoff victory.
The last time the football team and the baseball team made the playoffs together was 1999, which was the last time they both won a playoff game.
That was also the last time the football, baseball and softball team logged playoff wins in the same school year.
The 22 wins by the baseball team is a school record and marks just the third time in school history a Tiger team has won 20-plus games.
A senior-laden team is mostly responsible for that accomplishment and Richards will have to start from scratch next season after losing six seniors to graduation, including two four-year lettermen in Nic Hammett and Mark Drake.
"It's very rewarding for me to see this group of senior guys enjoy some success compared to what we endured two years ago when they all started for me as sophomores," Richards said. "We've come a long way since those days. They've grown up a lot as baseball players and just young men in general. They deserve every bit of success."
The always jovial Chance Betchan had an all-state season, leading the Tigers in hitting at .435, home runs with four and his 48 runs batted in was just two shy of Vincent Jiminez' school record mark of 50.
Hammett and Drake's names figure prominently in the story of the Class of 2009 as both stood out on the football field as well.
Drake became the Tigers all-time leading passer, eclipsing Dickie Summers 46-year old mark.
He was also a calm and steady leader who guided the Tigers to nine wins against some pretty good teams.
Hammett earned first-team All-State honors at linebacker and before he heads off to Rice, he will play in the THSCA all-star game this summer.
Both also took care of business in the classroom and will graduate with honors on Friday.
A Tiger teammate, Jason Korenek, is the saluatorian. A member of the golf team, Blake Skrhak, followed Korenek as third in his class.
Skrhak and his teammates captured Rockdale's first district championship in golf in 15 years in 2008.
Hammett will need his scholastic tools, which is a large part of the reason he chose Rice over other suitors.
Drake will most probably be headed for Texas A&M, to follow his father and two brothers in this family tradition.
Besides their exploits on the field, Hammett and Drake's leadership qualities will be missed most of all.
The Class of 2009 has thrown down the gauntlet for future classes to pick up and record even greater successes on the fields and on the courts.
In honor of our prospective college students, who will be forced to eat cheaply, here are the five worst luncheon meats:
1. Olive loaf.
3. Pressed ham.
5. Head cheese.