The Currituck golf team has had nearly a year to play the shoulda-coulda-woulda game.
Last April the Knights had a nine-stroke lead over First Flight going into the final Northeastern Coastal Conference match of the season, played great ... and still lost the title by three strokes.
Who knew the Nighthawks were going to blitz The Pines at Elizabeth City course with a scintillating team score of 317?
Currituck wasn’t the only snake-bitten local entry that day.
Northeastern’s Austin Meads wound up sharing the NCC Player of the Year award with Zach Robins of First Flight despite having a six-stroke lead on the Nighthawk going into the finale and recording his best round ever (78) at The Pines.
Who knew Robins was going to shoot an NCC season-best 72 to tie Meads for the low total score for the year?
Both the Knights and Meads get a chance to finish the job this time. Currituck returns its three top golfers and Meads is back for his senior year.
Coach: Julian Lassiter, 19th year
2012 NCC finish: Second
Outlook: The presence of three all-conference picks (senior Josh Szczepanski and juniors Hall Rupert and Daniel Evans) assures the Knights will be in the title hunt again.
Szczepanski averaged a hair over 79 strokes last year, Rupert 80 and Evans 83 as the team posted a 25-3 overall record and participated in the 3A East Region tournament.
Also, Evans scored a confidence-boosting victory over Meads for the championship of The Pines at Elizabeth City Junior Invitational last summer.
“They make us one of the favorites,” Lassiter said of his Big Three. “We will be looking for several of the other returning players to play consistently for the season to be a success.”
For now, Will Fallon appears to have the best shot at being Currituck’s fourth scoring player. But Andrew Atkins has also shown some talent.
Coach: Tom Albanese, fifth year
2012 NCC finish: Third
Outlook: No one will be more motivated than the super-hard-working Austin Meads, who lives on his family golf course and has jobs on two courses.
The Eagles senior cut seven strokes off his average last year, lowering it to 79.2, as he earned the Daily Advance Player of the Year award and led NHS to its first 2A region tourmanent in the tenure of coach Tom Albanese.
Gone is the dependable Taylor Allison, a four-year member of the All-Area team who is a scholarship player at Western Carolina, but back are sophomores Cameron Pharr, Tommy Albanese and Josh Jennings, who earned experience at the region tournament.
“Cameron has improved his game and will be a strong second seed for us,” coach Albanese said. “Tommy and Josh have worked hard in the offseason to improve their games.”
Albanese is also high on the potential of freshmen Elizabeth Kauaihilo, who may be the NCC’s best female; Zach Balluzzo, Will Robertson, Link Glover and Mitchell Foreman.
“Our weakness is our experience, but it is also our strength,” he said. “We have a young team with only on upperclassman. It should be a competitive, fun season.”
Coach: Dwayne Crank, seventh season
2012 NCC finish: Fourth
Outlook: The Panthers are playing catchup, said coach Dwayne Crank.
“Nobody worked on their game over the summer,” he said. “We need a lot of practice.”
Pasquotank will have to replace All-Area pick Josh Austin, who is now competing for Elizabeth City State. His younger brother Jordan, a junior, is the top returnee. He shot in the 80s several times last year.
Senior Connor Jordan and sophomores Taylor Guarracino and Caleb Sawyer are also back.
Transfers Thomas Hoffman and Tre’ Melton could help.
Coach: Bruce Bunch, third season
2012 NCC finish: Fifth
Outlook: It will still be an uphill battle for the Aces, who are playing in just their third season.
Tyler Bunch, Eric Brabble, Hoskins Powell, Evan Korbuseisky and Brock McIntosh played in all of Edenton’s conference matches last year and Gaskin Foreman played in several.
Issac Simonson, Ryan Leary and Nick Gummere are newcomers.
“Due to a wet spring, our practices have been limited, but the team is getting older and I am hoping for a good season,” coach Bruce Bunch said. “Most of our players from last year are returning and we have a couple of new kids who could have a good impact on our team this year.”