BOYS & GIRLS GOLF: 2017 season preview

By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports

THE BOYS

Every school had at least one golfer qualify for the region tournament or beyond last season.
The question is, will that happen again in 2017?
Port Charlotte is going for a fourth straight district title, led by last season’s only area golfer to qualify for state, Mark Kaneko-Fuji. The sophomore regularly shoots in the mid-30’s and should help balance a lineup that lost three key seniors. While coach Rodney Taylor still isn’t set on a lineup, he still has four golfers returning from last year’s squad to help bring experience to the course every day.
Lemon Bay is arguably in a rebuilding year under first-year coach Jason Jones, who replaced Chuck Beahrs after he stepped down to focus more on his duties as the junior varsity boys basketball coach. All three region qualifiers from last season graduated so the Manta Rays will rely on two freshmen to help compete in the district.
Charlotte was hit hardest by graduation, losing The Sun’s golfer of the year Jake Haas as well as three other seniors. Unless the young Tarpons grow up fast, a return trip to the region tournament will be a tall task.
Zach Kubik is back to lead North Port after qualifying for regionals and missing the state by just three strokes as a junior. North Port didn’t have a single player in its lineup graduate and should be poised to compete in a tough district.

FOUR TO WATCH

Marc Kaneko-Fuji, Port Charlotte, So.: Kaneko-Fuji was the area’s lone state qualifier in 2016, tying for seventh on the biggest stage. His nine-hole average was 38 and didn’t let up on 18 holes, averaging
76 as a freshman.
Reece Barber, Lemon Bay, Sr.: Barber could very well be Lemon Bay’s No. 1 golfer this season. Golf is a game he loves and is committed to, playing and practicing often. Look for him to average in the mid-30s this season.
Billy Brumbaugh, Charlotte, Jr.: With the loss of four seniors, Brumbaugh has jumped to No. 1 in Charlotte’s lineup. He played a bunch of golf in offseason tournaments and scored well, something the Tarpons will need from him if they want to compete in their district.
Zack Kubik, North Port, Sr.: Kubik has been one of the best golfers in school history and is primed for a run at the state tournament. His 38 average on nine holes was one of the best in the area last season and he missed qualifying for state by just three strokes.

PORT CHARLOTTE

COACH: Rodney Taylor (5th season).
DISTRICT 2A-19: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Hardee, Lemon Bay, Sarasota Military Academy, Southeast.
LAST YEAR: one state qualifier, third at region tournament, won district tournament.
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Jacob Goldman, Logan Sorah, Yui Fuji.
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: David Derocher (Sr.), Zach Price (Sr.), Anthony Hodges (Jr.), Ben Goldman (So.), Marc Kaneko-Fuji (So.)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Andrew Caparo (So.), Zach Starkey (Fr.).
OUTLOOK: Despite losing three seniors, the Pirates believe they can win a fourth straight district title. Marc Kaneko-Fuji, who qualified for the state tournament last season, once again leads Port Charlotte and should return to the grand stage again as a sophomore.

LEMON BAY

COACH: Jason Jones (1st season).
DISTRICT 2A-19: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Hardee, Port Charlotte, Sarasota Military Academy, Southeast.
LAST YEAR: Fourth at district tournament, three region qualifiers.
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Jacob Cooper, Sean Hinkle, Chace Neer.
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Reece Barber (Sr.), Colin Sweeny (Sr.), Josh Hutcherson (Jr.).
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Hunter DeGore (Fr.), Bryce Taranto (Fr.).
OUTLOOK: This could end up being a rebuilding year for the Manta Rays, who lost all three region qualifiers from last season to graduation. Their ability to compete in the district will depend on how their freshmen develop.

CHARLOTTE

COACH: Scott Harvey (17th season)
DISTRICT 3A-15: Fort Myers, Gulf Coast, Riverdale, South Fort Myers.
LAST YEAR: seventh at region tournament, second at district tournament,
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Jake Haas, Truman Bethel, Derek Yadanza, Chris Cavic
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Billy Brumbaugh (Jr.), Jacob Smith (Jr.)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Brennen Fender (Fr.)
OUTLOOK: The Tarpons are young with very little golf experience. The key to a successful season is getting several new players instruction and experience under their belt. Harvey hopes to develop his players and start another run of good golf in the years to come.

NORTH PORT

COACH: Steve Posilovich (12th season)
DISTRICT 3A-14: Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto, Riverview, Sarasota, Strawberry Crest
LAST SEASON: Sixth at district tournament, one region qualifier
KEY PLAYERS LOST: None
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Zack Kubik (Sr.), Chad Baker (Jr.), Trevor Baker (Jr.)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: None
OUTLOOK: After retaining the core of last year’s team and not losing any seniors, The Bobcats are excited about their potential. Led by last season’s lone region qualifier Zack Kubik, the goal is to gel together at the right time to make a legitimate run at the region tournament as a team.

THE GIRLS

One of the biggest transfers in all of the area’s sports happened in girls golf this summer.
Reigning all-area player of the year Meadow Southworth is no longer at North Port, opting instead to join Lemon Bay for the upcoming season. Southworth immediately jumped to the top spot in the Manta Rays’ lineup, raising expectations for a team that returns two all-area golfers in Hyasha Crumpton and Christain Chandler.
Port Charlotte finished second behind Lemon Bay at the District 19-2A tournament but struggled at the regionals last year. The Pirates are a young team led by the veteran leadership of junior Shaelyn Taylor
Like Lemon Bay, Charlotte also has pretty high expectations. The Tarpons return all-area players Becky Davis and Laren Fender and both girls post close to identical scores on a regular basis that forms a strong backbone for the team. After graduating only one senior, a district championship could be looming.
The loss of Southworth hurt North Port immensely. Mark Kemble takes over for Mike Endee as the Bobcats’ new coach and inherits only one returning golfer in Maggie Brown. Kemble has had to basically recruit girls in the school hallway to come out this season.

FOUR TO WATCH

Hyasha Crumpton, Lemon Bay, Sr.: Crumpton was one of the top golfers in the area as a junior, averaging under a 45. She raised her play as junior to the top spot in Lemon Bay’s lineup, and although she dropped back a spot with the addition of Southwroth, Crumpton will be a force for the Manta Rays this season.
Laren Fender, Charlotte, Sr.: Fender, an all-area selection her first three seasons, has made even bigger strides heading into her senior season after averaging a 42 last year. She’s been posting scores in the 70’s over 18 holes and will push teammate Becky Davis for the No. 1 spot in Charlotte’s lineup.
Shaelyn Taylor, Port Charlotte, Jr.: Taylor has taken over as Port Charlotte’s No. 1 golfer. She was consistently second in scoring for the Pirates last season and will be counted on to lead a young team this year.
Maggie Brown, North Port, Sr.: Brown is the anchor of North Port’s team who brings plenty of experience. She’s the only returner and will have to consistently post low scores to give the Bobcats a chance.

PORT CHARLOTTE

COACH: Katie Root (5th season)
DISTRICT 2A-19: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Hardee, Lemon Bay, Sarasota Military Academy, Southeast
LAST SEASON: Second at district tournament
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Hannah Madison
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Hannah Lindsay (Sr.), Sydnee Parker (Sr.), Shaelyn Taylor (Jr.)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Sara Tirb (Fr.)
OUTLOOK: The Pirates are hoping for a better season record that was just 2-8 in 2016. Root has no golfers brand new to the game this season and is concentrating on building onto the team’s current knowledge and skills. However, the Pirates are still young to the game and definitely green in terms of experience with competitive golf.

LEMON BAY

COACH: Darrell Roach (23rd year)
DISTRICT 2A-19: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Hardee, Port Charlotte, Sarasota Military Academy, Southeast
LAST SEASON: Won district title
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Kayla Faircloth, Alaina Schofield
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Sarah Bedford (Sr.), Hyasha Crumpton (Sr.), Ali Pappalardo (Jr.), Christain Chandler (So.)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Meadow Southworth (Jr.), Hailey Lainhart (Fr.)
OUTLOOK: With Southworth now on board, winning a district title and placing top-two in their region is the Manta Rays’ goal. Roach is hoping the addition of Southworth can help propel Lemon Bay in a tough region that includes Estero, Naples and Barron Collier.

CHARLOTTE

COACH: Josh Hoffart (5th season)
DISTRICT 3A-15: Fort Myers, Gulf Coast, Riverdale, South Fort Myers
LAST YEAR: Fourth at region tournament, third at district tournament
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Marissa Nash
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Becky Davis (Jr.), Laren Fender (Sr.), Stephanie Gonzalez (Sr.), Elizabeth Davis (Jr.), Delaney McBee (So.), Madison Wiley (So.)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: None
OUTLOOK: The Tarpons have a ton of experience and are poised for a great season. Every girl in Hoffart’s lineup was on the team last year and the expectations are high, with the No. 1 goal being a district championship.

NORTH PORT

COACH: Mark Kemble (1st season)
DISTRICT 3A-14: Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto, Riverview, Sarasota, Strawberry Crest
LAST SEASON: One state qualifier
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Meadow Southworth
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Maggie Brown (Sr.)
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Ali Pound (Sr.), Allison Rainey (Sr.), Roshnan Velloza (Sr.), Kelby Chambers (Jr.), Trinity Horos (Fr.)
OUTLOOK: The loss of Southworth hurts a ton. Five of the six girls in North Port’s lineup are all new to the team this year, making this the ultimate rebuilding year. The goal for the Bobcats is to simply improve every match.

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