A year ago, John Blamey saw his boy's golf team take down County Line and win the Conference Title, qualifying his team as the top seed at the State Tournament. The day approached and so did the rain, which did not help his team play well.
As Blamey recalls, "When we didn't make it, there wasn't another guy I'd rather see up there than Cass," referring to his friend and County Line coach, Ryan Castleman. County Line won the tournament last year, playing their best while toughing out the elements. Meanwhile, the drive behind Blamey and the Rockets gained more fuel.
Blamey has coached golf for 15 seasons, coaching both the boys and girls programs. During that time, his teams have won seven conference titles, five conference runner-up finishes, and each boy and one girl team has finished third in the State Tournaments. He is no stranger to success, but the one glaring omission was a State Title.
It started this August, in the blazing heat with the 115-degree heat index, but the players battled the conditions. Blamey said, "Most folks don't understand. These kids carry their clubs and walk the course. It is like basic training, walking six or more miles carrying a 50-pound bag over uneven terrain."
For the season, the only tournament where the heat index was below 100 degrees was the State Tournament, but through it all, Scranton boys went undefeated this season. In fact, they were not challenged by most events. That left them wondering how they would fare under pressure in the final tournament. Scranton served as the host school with Chamberlyne Country Club in Danville, serving as the host course.
"I've never been that nervous before; I saw a few of the guys on the course, and they gave me the thumbs down," says Blamey, meaning the boys were not happy with their performance on the previous hole. Scoring is not done in real-time, but instead, the coaches submit the scores and a committee comes out to post them, starting with the lower teams first, until eventually the winner.
"I just put my head down. I couldn't look. Then our boys started yelling and I knew we had won."
When it was all said and done, Scranton ran away with the title, winning by 29 points over a distant second place.
It has been a few weeks, but Blamey is still giddy when he talks about this team. Caden Cook, a senior, won the silver medal with an 83 and was named All-State. He will play in the upcoming Meet of Champs. Ethan West, another senior, was also named All-State, while Ryan Willems, the lone junior on the team, was named All-Conference. Rounding out the final squad roster is senior Jackson Rogers.
Blamey could not thank enough people for the work they put in, "I think half of the community came out and volunteered."
Superintendent Toby Cook oversaw the tournament and helped coach along the way. Someone covered bus routes on the days of competitions and Farm Bureau even stepped up to provide food for the entire tournament. As for Blamey, well, he will likely be putting in even more hours as his daughter Morgan took up the game this year and was one of only six freshmen to play in the State Tournament.