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DARTON NOTEBOOK: Golfers stick with Cavs despite coach’s departure

Dale Dover, left, is serving as interim head coach as well as Director of Golf at Darton after Bill Jones III, right, stepped down this summer.

Dale Dover, left, is serving as interim head coach as well as Director of Golf at Darton after Bill Jones III, right, stepped down this summer.

ALBANY — It’s been nearly two months since Darton golf coach Bill Jones III stepped down, but interim coach Dale Dover says it’s been business as usual for the program.

Dover, the architect and long-time coach of the Cavs, has taken over the program while the school searches for a replacement, and he said the team hasn’t lost a commitment or a current player because of Jones’ departure.

“I think (the players) were comfortable with the fact that I have been here for a long time,” said Dover, who stepped down as coach in 2011 and served as Director of Golf the last two years. “I promised them that I would be around for sure for the next year and that the situation would be stable.”

The Cavs return three who played in last year’s NJCAA National Tournament and have a talented recruiting class of both local and international players, and Dover said each one of them felt comfortable with the direction of the program if he stayed on as coach.

“I have a good relationship with them, and they understand how I do things,” Dover said. “Even the guys coming in, they had an idea of who I was. Not to be boastful, but they had an idea that if I stayed things would pretty much stay the status quo.”

The status quo at Darton has been one of excellence since Dover, a 2013 inductee into the NJCAA Golf Coaches Hall of Fame, started the program. Under his guidance the Cavs have won 12 straight Region XVII titles and were three-time NJCAA Division II national champions from 2005-07. Last year, however, the team had its worst finish at nationals (12th) in 10 years and finished outside of the Top 5 for the first time since moving to Division I in 2011.

Dover expects the team to bounce back in the fall season, which starts Sept. 9 at the Wallace State Fall Invitational.

“I think we will be deeper, and the competition will make everybody better,” he said. “All of these freshmen will come in and compete for a job and push these sophomores.”

Taylor Martin, Parks Brown and Taehyung Kim played on Darton’s region championship team last year, while sophomore Madison Turner will also be back.

The Cavs’ incoming freshmen include two-time Herald Player of the Year Tyler Shamblin from Seminole County, Athens’ Jake O’Bryan, Macon’s Seth Sanders, Englishman Josh Glossip and Ecuador native Raphael Miranda.

DARTON LACROSSE STILL IN PLANNING STAGES: Darton athletic director Mike Kiefer had originally hoped to hire the school’s first women’s lacrosse coach this summer and have a club team on the field in the spring, but a kink in the hiring process has forced the school to push back its target date for its inaugural lacrosse season.

Kiefer said this week that the school reviewed 15-20 candidates from across the nation for the coaching position but that nobody made the cut.

“We didn’t find the right candidate, and we just recently extended our search,” Kiefer said. “We are still hoping we can identify somebody to come on and spend the next year recruiting and then officially start it the following year as a club.”

There are six four-year private schools in the state that already have lacrosse club teams, but Darton would be the first two-year school to offer the sport, which is becoming increasingly popular in northern Georgia.

And there is hope that the club team will eventually turn into an NJCAA-sanctioned program, similar to the Darton wrestling team, which competed as a club sport for three years before becoming an intercollegiate sport.

Kiefer said while there hasn’t been much interest from current Darton students, the school has been contacted by several prospective students interested in playing lacrosse.