By Chris Chaney
The Southern Buckeye Conference boys’ golf scene has been taken over by the New Richmond Lions in recent years, but ask New Richmond head coach Phil Heflin who he has his eyes on as the future of the league and he doesn’t hesitate.
“Really, Goshen, as a team, is playing very well,” Heflin said. “They may be a year or two away, but they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with down the road, absolutely.”
Warriors head coach Mark Reed echoed the sentiments of Heflin, quick to point out an interesting dynamic of talent that has the Warriors optimistic about the future of the program.
“We have two really good standout freshman who have really done well for us this year,” Reed explained. “One of them, Doug Dolton, has been averaging right around a 41 for us and then Garrett Gray is averaging right around a 47, 48.
“Those two guys have done exceptionally well for us and then a couple of seniors in Steven Short and Lucky Singleton who have been shooting really well.”
While the talent level of the Warriors is up there with the best in the league, Reed said that his upperclassmen possess the experience necessary to compete, but some of the younger players are still earning their stripes.
In the season-long SBC Tournament, which features four nine-hole rounds and concluded with an 18-hole round on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Cedar Trace, the Warriors have shown glimpses of being able to put rounds together with the top teams in the league, while also floundering at times and falling back in the standings.
“We’ve been doing okay,” Reed said. “We’ve been going into (the matches) very inexperienced, but I think it’s been a growing process for my guys, especially some of those freshmen.
“Overall, we’re doing well, but New Richmond has done a great job of separating themselves from everyone else. We’re using this year to get everyone’s feet wet and then hopefully in the next few years, we can make those strides to truly compete in these big SBC matches.”
Heading into the final 18-hole round, the Warriors were comfortably sitting in fourth place, nearly 100 strokes better than Norwood and within striking distance of both Bethel-Tate and Western Brown, who are 26 and 24 strokes ahead of Goshen, respectively, through 36 holes.
The Warriors wrapped up their season on Tuesday, Sept. 24 in a dual match against East Clinton at Deer Track in which results were not available in time for print.
As for the postseason, Reed’s squad will play their sectional tournament at Glenview Golf Course in a Division I qualifier.
The Warriors will benefit from a familiar pairing as they drew groupings with SBC opponents Amelia and Western Brown, along with Little Miami.
As for Reed’s expectations for qualification to the district tournament, a very competitive DI sectional could make a team advancement possibility slim.
“Unfortunately, from a team aspect, we’re a little ways away from where we need to be,” Reed said. “We have a couple guys in Doug and Steven who could possibly and hopefully shoot well and advance.
“The unfortunate circumstance for us is that Goshen plays in the DI state tournament, so we’re playing incredible competition. We’re very realistic about our expectations, but if anything, we want to go out there and give it our best shot and see what happens.“
The Warriors will tee it up in the sectional on Oct. 1 with the team’s first tee time coming at 8:30 a.m.