He is convinced that nerves took hold of his golfers as they combined to finish third, behind Dutchtown and Upson-Lee, one spot away from qualifying for the state tournament.
This year, Simmons added a measure to try and ease the nerves before the region match, which was Monday at Crystal Lake Golf and Country Club in Hampton.
The coach scheduled some 18-hole tournaments – in addition to the regular nine-hold matches the ’Hounds normally compete in during the regular season – in preparation for the 18-hole region tourney.
Jones County High finished 11th out of 23 teams in Pike County March 8.
The Greyhounds finished 14th out of 24 teams in Warner Robins March 22.
The ’Hounds finished last out of 18 teams at the Atlanta Country Club March 31 in what Simmons said was a very competitive field on a world-class golf course.
The team also happened to meet up with the defending 4-AAAA champion and runner-up along the way.
The Greyhounds finished ahead of both Dutchtown and Upson-Lee in Pike County, and they topped Upson-Lee again in Warner Robins.
“It should definitely settle their nerves down a lot knowing that they have the ability to go out and compete with the top teams in the region,” Simmons said. “Now, if they don’t beat themselves, I think they have a very good opportunity to win (the region tournament).”
The team, comprised of four seniors and five sophomores, also went a perfect 9-0 in regular-season matches this season against the likes of GMC, Jasper County, Baldwin, Washington County, and Putnam County.
Simmons said all of his team, with the exception of former baseball player Stephen Amerson, transfer Ben Wills, and Marcus Parham, were on the team last year.
“This is the best group of kids you could ask to coach,” Simmons said. “They’ll all do anything you tell them to do, and a lot of times they’ll be out here at dark still wanting to hit balls.”
Amerson, Parham, Kyle Burns and Brandon Northcutt are the team’s seniors, and its sophomore group is made up of Jesse Denaro, Leevi Kitchens, Kevin McKleroy, Jon Wilkes, and Wills.
Amerson, Simmons said, has been the team’s most consistent golfer thus far this season, though McKleroy posted perhaps the team’s most impressive round with an 18-hole score of 82 in Pike County.
Simmons will have tough decisions to make in trimming his roster to six for the region tournament and, if the team fares well enough, the state tournament in Augusta next month.
The coach said he had an impressive turnout at the beginning of the season, as he had to cut a field of around 20 golfers down to nine.
Simmons said there was a lot of interest especially in the freshman class, and Lake Jonesco Course Superintendent Mearl Cooler was kind enough to allow those who did not make the cut to play for free in order to practice for next season.