The path back to the state tournament proved to be a shaky but very rewarding one for these guys.
And, a result of being very unlikely winners of the region tournament, the Christ Presbyterian Academy golf team takes aim on defending its Class A/AA boys state crown this week at Murfreesboro Old Fort Park.
Headed by sophomore ace Peyton Deming, the Lions tee off Tuesday morning with designs of a repeat while wistfully breathing a sigh of relief from their play of last week in the Region 5-A/AA tournament. Final rounds are Wednesday.
A 23-stroke turnaround from the district tournament to region enabled CPA to pass Goodpasture and capture that title last week at Montgomery Bell State Park near Dickson.
“It was a situation where our guys played to their capabilities, and Goodpasture just blew up,” said 14-year veteran CPA golf coach Steve Wilson. “In district, it was just the opposite, Goodpasture played well, and we blew up. It was crazy.”
Goodpasture beat CPA by 13 strokes in the district tourney. Last week at Montgomery Bell, CPA captured its second straight region title with a 313 total, edging Harpeth High (314) by one stroke, with Goodpasture 10 strokes back (323).
What mattered was that only the region winner takes its entire team to state with a chance to win the title. “Certainly, that was the best scenario for us, winning region once we lost in the district,’’ Wilson said.
CPA did the back-to-back thing once before. Only trouble is, it was back-to-back ‘runner-up’ finishes under Wilson in 2002 and 2003 on a team headed by brothers Clark and Campbell Brewer.
Wilson said he dusted off those second place trophies so as to make room for the big gold ball trophy the team won last year. The coach is hoping to dust off the case once again to make room for another big trophy if his team can fashion a repeat.
At state, the Lions will take Deming, along with senior captains Taylor Dreps and Kevin Ryan, along with senior David Green and junior Louis Trapnell, who also plays football.
“It’s great to be back in this position, with a chance to defend our championship,’’ said Deming, whose brother Taylor was last year’s CPA ace and who signed with UT-Martin.
“We all realized we could play better than we did at district, and we went out and proved it. It’s an incredible feeling,’’ he said. “From the very start, our goal has always been to get back to state. Winning the region the way we did should give us more confidence.’’
It was anything but easy.
On the 18th hole, Deming, who shot a team best 73 to finish second, three-putted from 12 feet, almost causing CPA to fall into a tie with Harpeth after which a playoff would have been necessary.
“I just turned and walked away, I couldn’t watch,’’ Wilson said. “I walked away when he missed the first one. I didn’t know until I heard the people around the green clapping that he got the last putt in the hole, and we avoided a playoff.’’
“We had a lot of guys who played a big part in the win,’’ he said. “Peyton played very well until the 18th green. Taylor rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 18, and David dropped in a 35-footer for birdie at No. 7. Those proved huge for us.’’
Taylor followed Deming with a 78, while Ryan and Green carded 81s at region.
Next up is a tall challenge in the eight-team field, most notably Notre Dame, which had by far the lowest team score (295) from the region tournaments. Christian Academy of Knoxville (305) and Greeneville (306) should also be hot in contention along with CPA.
“We’ve accomplished the hardest part, winning region when no one expected us to,’’ Deming said. “So, really, the pressure is off us at state, because we weren’t expected to be here anyway.’’
Last year, Deming finished 24th in the individuals at state but had the second-lowest score of any freshman. Brother Taylor finished third.
“I just think if everyone plays to his potential, we’ll be successful,’’ he said.