Frederica Academy is one step closer to claiming its 13th consecutive state championship after winning the region title Monday at Brunswick Country Club.
Frederica eighth-graders Jackson Byrd and Jack Roberts shot a 70 and 71, respectively, on the par 72 course to finish 1-2 atop the leaderboard and power Frederica to a 42-stroke victory at the GISA Region 2-3A Tournament.
“We’ve got a really strong team, so I was expecting them to come through for us, and they did, which is great,” said FA golf coach Tom Willis.
A score of 293 lifted Frederica Academy over second-place Bulloch Academy, third-place Pinewood Christian, and fourth-place Trinity Christian, and it was just two strokes off of the Knights’ low round on the season.
That’s despite competing on a windy day that Willis expected to produce high scores. It was certainly not the case for Byrd, who notched his first victory at Frederica Academy.
“I told him before the round, ‘I think I’m ready to see you win one,’ and he did, so that’s really good,” Willis said with a laugh. “And Jack’s right on his heels, so both those guys are going to be headline after headline the next four years.”
Willis, a long-time coach at Frederica, said the son of PGA Tour professional Jonathan Byrd hit the best drive he’s ever seen into stiff wind on the 290-yard, par 4 No. 7 at BCC as the ball dropped dead on the green just 10 feet from the hole.
Byrd could have gone even lower if it were not for a few missed putts on the back nine, but he birdied No. 18 to break the tie with his teammate Roberts, who had a fine round of his own at 1-under par.
Frederica Academy also got a strong round from freshman Aarnav Nath, whose 73 was a season low. Nath did his best work on the backside of the course, where he shot a 35, birding No. 18 to cap off the day.
Roy Boyd shot a 79 for the Knights, and Thomas Henderson rounded out the group with an 80 — decent rounds, but ultimately disappointing for a pair of seniors looking to lead FA to another state title.
“That’s what we need to try to avoid for state; we need to try to get everybody on the same page,” Willis said. “We were close to that today because we had three really strong scores, but you’ve got to count four.
“I’m sure those guys will bounce back; 79, 80, those aren’t bad scores, but for those guys, they’re not happy about them. The good thing about that is they have a chance to bounce back at state.”
Of course, both Boyd and Henderson were still named to the all-region team for Frederica, along with Byrd, Roberts and Nath. Parker Jules received a plaque as the low female with a score of 80, and Travis Cavalier paced the individuals with a round of 77.
Frederica will return to the same course next week as it looks to defend its championship following a lost season due to COVID-19. Playing at BCC two weeks in a row could be just the advantage the Knights need to hoist the trophy once more.
“That’s a big advantage for us,” Willis said. “Other schools that have to travel a long distance — Valwood is a really good team, and they beat us pretty handily the last time we played them, and Brookwood is another strong team, but they both are coming from a different region.”