When high school sports shut down in the state in response to COVID-19, no school held a larger lead in their respective classification in the director’s cup standings than Jefferson.
But there will be no trophy forthcoming for Jefferson, or any other school, for the shortened 2019-20 athletic season.
The Georgia Athletic Director’s Association (GADA) unanimously decided against naming director’s cup winners this season. The award honors the top all-around athletic program for each classification each year.
Jefferson had tallied 777 points through March 17, 112 points ahead of second-place private school power Greater Atlanta Christian.
Athletic director Bill Navas recently pled Jefferson’s case to the GADA president Jasper Jewell, but to no avail.
“The point that I tried to make was that it was it was unfair to the seven teams that won the award,” Navas said.
The GADA’s argument: 45 percent of GHSA-sanctioned sports were not completed due to the cancellation of spring sports.
“They just felt like it wasn’t enough to award the award this year,” Navas said.
Had high school athletics continued, Navas expected a strong spring push from the private schools just behind Jefferson — GAC, Pace Academy and Westminster — but felt Jefferson athletics still had a chance to win the trophy at season’s end.
“We would have been right there when it was all said and done because from what I saw in the spring, we were doing some really good things as well,” Navas said.
Trophy or not, Navas said the year was a special one for Dragon athletics.
Jefferson’s boys’ basketball and cheerleading teams both produced runner-up finishes to lead the athletic program. Meanwhile, the wrestling, boys’ cross country, football, girls’ cross country, girls’ swimming, girls’ basketball and softball teams all finished in the top eight.
“I felt like we were as competitive as we’ve been in any of my years here in Jefferson in every sport that we played … as whole, we were in the hunt in just about everything,” Navas said.
Navas praised the efforts of the 2019-20 Jefferson seniors, especially.,
“This is a special senior class — I’ve got one of them,” Navas said, referring to his daughter, soccer player Ally-Kate Navas. “I’m very fond of these seniors, and I hate that it went out the way it did, that the year ended. But I’m going to tell you, they’re going to do great things in their lives.”
Navas made it clear that he had no hard feelings toward the GADA for its ruling.
“I think they’re all really good people at the GADA,” he said. “While I can disagree with what they did, two people can disagree and that’s it. I respect the decision that they made. It doesn’t make me any less proud of the kids here, I can promise you that.”
Jewell, the GADA president, said Jefferson was welcomed to promote to itself as the 2019-20 Class AAA champions if it liked, but Navas had no interest in doing so.
“Look, at the end of the day, we didn’t win the award,” Navas said. “It is what it is. I would never here at Jefferson try to promote ourselves other than anything than what we are … Like I said, it does not take anything off the shine of this senior class and how our athletes performed this year. They were fantastic.”
COMMERCE FINISHES HIGH
Commerce athletics enjoyed a banner year, finishing fourth in Class A — and as the highest-ranking public school — with 530 points.
Ranking higher were private schools Wesleyan (742 points.), Holy Innocents’ (704) and Mt. Paran Christian (694).
Commerce placed near the top of Class A on the strength of state titles from the boys’ cross country and the wresting teams and runner-up finishes from the girls’ cross country and competitive cheerleading teams. The Commerce softball team added significant points with a third-place finish.
Elsewhere in the county, Jackson County finished 17th in Class AAA and East Jackson placed 35th in Class AAA.