0

Historic, proud day for Lee County High athletics

From left, Lee County offensive lineman Robert Hatcher, wrestler Chris Rapley, swimmer Julie Johns and basketball player Reggie Breedlove pose for a photo before signing college scholarships Friday at the school. Hatcher is headed to Samford, Rapley to West Virginia Tech, Johns to Darton State and Breedlove to Albany Tech. (mike.phillips@albanyherald.com)

From left, Lee County offensive lineman Robert Hatcher, wrestler Chris Rapley, swimmer Julie Johns and basketball player Reggie Breedlove pose for a photo before signing college scholarships Friday at the school. Hatcher is headed to Samford, Rapley to West Virginia Tech, Johns to Darton State and Breedlove to Albany Tech. (mike.phillips@albanyherald.com)

LEESBURG — They held a parade of spring signings on Friday at Lee County high School, where basketball player Reggie Breedlove, offensive lineman Robert Hatcher, swimmer Julie Johns and wrestler Chris Rapley all signed letters-of-intent in a ceremony in the gym.

Breedlove, a guard who averaged 15 points, seven assists and four steals a game, signed with Albany Tech. Hatcher, who was the center and leader of the offensive line, signed a preferred walk-on deal with Samford, while Johns, a region champ who competed in the state meet, accepted a swimming scholarship to Darton State, and Rapley, a region champ who advanced to the state tournament, inked with West Virginia Institute of Technology.

“We’re getting a great defensive player,’’ Albany Tech coach Sylvester Patterson said of Breedlove. “I think he can really pressure the ball, and he’s a real good mid-range shooter. It’s always a plus when we get a local kid. He brings his own fan base with him.’’

Breedlove, who was named to the All-Region 1-AAAAA team, is the first boys basketball player at Lee County to sign in a while.

“It has been a while since someone signed on the boys side (of basketball),’’ Trojans coach Kirven Davis said. “He’s the first since 2005. It’s kudos to the administration and the community.’’

Breedlove said he didn’t consider any other schools.

“Not really,” said Breedove, who will major in criminal justice. “I just decided I wanted to go to Albany Tech and stay close to my family. I really like the people there and the coach, and I wanted to stay close to home.’’

Hatcher said being close to home is one reason he liked Samford, which is located just down the road in Birmingham, Ala.

“It’s only three hours away, and I really liked it when I visited there,’’ said Hatcher, who has a 3.89 GPA but is undecided about his major. “The campus is beautiful. I can’t say enough about it.’’

Hatcher was the anchor of Lee County’s line, which produced one of the highest-scoring offenses in the state.

“He’s an excellent student and he was a leader for us,” Lee County football coach Dean Fabrizio said. “He’s a high character kid. I think Samford is getting a steal with him.”

Darton State may be getting an even bigger steal with Johns, who is not your typical swimmer. Most competitive swimmers start when they are very young, but Johns didn’t swim competitively until just five years ago. She feels the best is in front of her.

“I didn’t start swimming until the end of my eighth-grade year,’’ said Johns, who won the Region 1-AAAAA title in the 100 freestyle and advanced to the state meet as a member of the 200-meter freestyle relay team. She also competed in the 200 freestyle, the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.

“I looked at some other schools, but they didn’t have the program Darton does,’’ said Johns, who has a 3.6 GPA. “I want to become a child life specialist with a minor in psychology. I thought about going to Valdosta State, but they don’t have a swimming program.’’

Rapley wrestles for the best program in Southwest Georgia and talked to four other schools before deciding to sign with West Virginia Institute of Technology. He has a 3.45 GPA and plans to major in business.

“He’s a very good student and a hard worker,’’ Lee County wrestling coach Tom Matheny said. “He should do very well (at the next level).’’

They feel the same way in West Virginia.

“The WV Tech wrestling family is very excited about Chris Rapley joining us,’’ WV Tech coach Sam Gardner said in a press release. “We are fortunate to have a student-athlete with the drive for success in the classroom as well as on the wrestling mat as part of our team.’’

Rapley wants to excel in both.

“I think it will be a better way for me to increase my skills in wrestling,’’ he said. “I made a virtual tour of the school and really liked it. I talked to the coach and feel real good about going there.”