Brookstone senior Martin Ramos and his soccer coach, Billy Byrd, led a team whose success was the culmination of five years of development.
Rusty Oliver led a Columbus girls team suffering two key injuries to the brink of the state title game. Brookstone senior girls player Rachel Moore outscored everyone individually.
For their efforts, they have been named the All-Bi-City players and coaches of the year for soccer.
The Cougars played in the Class A semifinals in a year dominated by the leadership of key seniors.
Ramos, who is headed to the University of South Carolina next year, was the driving force. He scored 25 goals and notched 10 assists to pace the Cougars, who became the last non-Atlanta team standing in its classification.
That's a big accomplishment, Byrd said, adding that it was particularly rewarding for him, having watched the players grow for the past five years.
"It was great for me," he said. "I've had these guys since the eighth grade. I came over from coaching girls five years ago. This is the first group I've had the full five years. I can remember seeing them in eighth grade and seeing them develop. We've added some here and there, but they've all just grown together. That's the greatest thing about coaching high school."
Ramos said he wasn't necessarily expecting the deep playoff run. At the beginning of the year, he was hoping to improve and make some early noise in the playoffs. Instead, the Cougars made the semifinals and left their mark on the program.
Ramos led the team in scoring, but, as a mark of his leadership, took a back seat in the playoffs, allowing for teammate Stephen Poydasheff to score six goals.
"As long as we win, I didn't care if I was scoring," Ramos said. "Everyone stepped up."
That's the mark of a good leader, Byrd said.
On the girls side, Moore was the leading scorer in the area for the second consecutive season. Her stats -- 29 goals and 8 assists -- were identical to those from a year ago.
"It was a lot of work," she said of finding her success. "I just wanted to help take the team further. We didn't go as far as we'd have liked, but it was a great year."
Another team that fell short of where it would have liked -- and where it
felt like it deserved to be -- was Columbus.
On more than one occasion, Oliver has stated he thought the Lady Blue Devils had the best team in Class AAAA, despite falling a game short of playing Marist in the state final.
Instead, Columbus lost in the state semifinals by a goal to Veterans. But one goal doesn't change a season.
"That one game didn't determine our success," Oliver said. "We lost to two teams all year, one who played in the state championship and one that was final four in Class AAAAAA. There were literally hundreds of teams that wanted to be where we were."
The fact that Columbus was there can be considered a major success story. The Lady Blue Devils lost key seniors from last year's runner-up squad, including 2013 player of the year Ivey Burbrink. It also lost two key players, including second-leading goal scorer Gigi Schorr, to season-ending knee injuries midway through the year.
Still, they nearly equaled, and had a chance to surpass, their success from a year ago.
"Really, it was a great year," Oliver said. "We had injuries and kids had to step up and I had to move some people around.
"We kept picking up win after win after win. We dominated our non-region schedule, won our region outright You can't do much better than that."