PICKENS — Pickens High School golf coach Bob Allison has coached numerous championship teams throughout his illustrious coaching career at Pickens High School and the 2009 Blue Flame golf team figures to be another one of those teams with conference title aspirations and the ultimate goal of competing for a state championship.
The 2009 Blue Flame return five lettermen from the 2008 season, four of which played in the region championship tournament.
“We lost several good players from last year but we have a good nucleus coming back. We’ve got five kids coming back that played in matches last year,” said Allison.
Key contributors on the 2009 team are thought to be the four returning players that played in the region championship, Matt Blackwell, David Thrift, Ben Winter, and Matt Powell. Blackwell has already signed to play at Southern Wesleyan University in the fall and will likely man the number one slot in the Blue Flame lineup.
In addition to having the benefit of a strong core of players returning from the 2008 team, the Blue Flame will benefit from the realignment of AAA conferences as the teams that finished first and second last year have exited Western AAA play.
“Ironically what happened in golf is that the top two teams, Greenville and TR, both left the conference. It probably made this year more wide open. I would like to think that we have the chance to compete for the region championship,” Allison commented.
The Blue Flame began practice on Monday, Feb. 2.. The schedule has not been set, but it is known that a number of tournaments, in addition to the regular season match schedule, will provide the Blue Flame with necessary experience as they prepare for postseason play.
The Blue Flame will compete in a Saturday tournament in Ninety-Six and likely return to the Easley Tournament during spring break with matches both in conference and against non-conference foes along the way.
The Western AAA tournament will be played at Anderson Country Club and Boscobel.
The top five finishing schools will advance to the Upper State tournament at Links O’Tryon and vie for a coveted slot in the State tournament to be played in May.
Allison is optimistic that this year’s team will be in the thick of the conference title race and have its sights set on capturing another region title to add to his legacy as one of the most revered coaches in Pickens High School athletics.
“We have a good many seniors on the team. We have an experienced, mature group of kids. We would like to think and hope that we would compete for the region championship. I’m sure the team’s goal is to win the region and try to advance to the State tournament. I’m real optimistic and have a good positive feeling about this team,” he said.