Editors Note: The Pioneers boys team claimed a second place finish the in the Big 7 Conference Tournament on Tuesday, finishing just behind Science Hill 314-289. Gibson Miller led the way with a 75, while Jordan Whitaker tied his career-best with a 76. Sam Pleasant shot an 81 and Eli Fagan hit an 82.
BY COLLIN BROOKS
A mix of experience and skill has forced Big 7 Conference foes to take notice of the David Crockett golf team. That revolution has been led by a quartet of senior swingers that have the Pioneers eyeing uncharted territory.
Eli Fagan, Gibson Miller, Sam Pleasant and Jordan Whitaker have helped to revamp the view of the Pioneers golf team.
“All four of them are very accomplished,” David Crockett coach Jason Moore said.
Moore took over three years ago and he learned very quickly that county schools aren’t expected to compete against the city schools, but this group has taken the lead on changing that conversation.
“When I was a freshman, people would kind of take us as a joke, but now that they see that our scores have dropped and that we work hard everyday, they are starting to take us more serious,” Fagan said.
Besides the camaraderie that has been built between the players, Fagan said that the work ethic has naturally improved with so many competitors.
“Our work ethic has picked up a lot during the last four years, we have two kids that have played less than four years, Sam (Pleasant) has only played for one year and Jordan (Whitaker) started his sophomore year, so their work ethic has really increased,” Fagan said. “Gibson (Miller) and I have been here for four years and we saw them getting better and quickly, so that pushed us to continue to improve.
“Seeing all of us improve makes us all individually want to get better, but even with that competitive drive, we still have great team chemistry.”
Fagan tied the school record for lowest score in a round with a 69 during a tournament in Jonesville, Virginia.
The season started out with an impressive jamboree finish, as the team topped Tennessee High and defending Virginia state champion Abingdon. The only Big 7 team they haven’t defeated is Science Hill. But even they are starting to respect them.
“We played Science Hill the other day and just to have them bring their best players to play us, means they are taking us seriously,” Moore said.
The attitude change toward the county school hasn’t been organic, it’s been sparked by the hard work the Pioneers have put in.
“We come out here and practice a lot individually with one another, without organized practice, all the time and we help each other with our swings and drills and stuff,” said Miller who shot a 71 this season. “So it’s good to have fun with these guys.”
That fun has been followed by high self expectations for David Crockett.
“We should be able to go to state, I think,” said Pleasant whose season high is also 71. “And we should finish just behind Science Hill in the conference.”
That would be nice, but Whitaker said his team just enjoys being around one another. “Being close has made this a lot of fun and it’s different to see the teams taking us more seriously,” he said. We just go out there and try to have a good time with each other and win.”
The Pioneers took the Musket Cup last week but they hope that will just be the starting point for a remarkable season.
Other players on the team include juniors Zeke Adams and lefty Luke Larkins. Dylan Allen has been recovering well from an elbow issue that forced him to miss last season, and Zack Ford and Sean Hayes are two promising sophomores that are on the rise.
On the girls side, the Lady Pioneers have two players in Sadie Bowles and Hannah Blair.