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Athlete of the week: Goalkeeper leads Red Elephants into playoffs
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Honorable mentions

Baseball

Will Maddox, Gainesville: 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs and six RBIs against West Hall last Saturday.

Erik Tarnacki, Gainesville: Struck out 11, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs against Lumpkin County last Friday.

Tyler Ward, Lakeview Academy: Struck out 10 against Towns County last Saturday.

Brett Armour, Lakeview Academy: Hit a grand slam, hit for the cycle and had four home runs, seven runs scored and 12 RBIs over three games last week.

Haughton Carswell, Lakeview Academy: 4-for-4 with three doubles against Tallulah Falls last Thursday.

Luke Crumley, White County: Two home runs, five runs scored, eight RBIs over two games last week, along with a seven-strikeout win against Pickens last Friday.

K.J. McAllister, North Hall: Two home runs, a triple, two runs scored and nine RBIs over two games last week.

Trey Pinson, North Hall: 4-for-4 with four runs scored and two RBIs against Johnson last Thursday.

Jamie Sexton, Jefferson: 2-for-2 with a home run, three runs and five RBIs against Banks County last Friday.

Jake Fields, Jefferson: 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs against Oglethorpe County last Thursday.

Chris Beck, Jefferson: Struck out 11 hitters against North Oconee last Wednesday.

Will Anderson, Lumpkin County: 2-for-3 with four runs and four stolen bases against West Hall last Thursday.

Drew Adams, East Hall: Doubled, tripled and had three RBIs while earning the win on the mound against Johnson last Tuesday.

Soccer

Juan Arbelaez, West Hall: Goal and an assist against Creekview last Tuesday.

Brittany Farmer, West Hall: Two goals against Creekview last Tuesday.

Charlie Bryant, Gainesville: Scored the game-winning penalty kick to defeat Johnson and secure a state playoff spot last Tuesday.

Golf

Camryn Cole, Gainesville: Low-medalist with an 87 at the Spartan Lanier Challenge High School Golf Tournament last Saturday.

Track and field

Blake Sims, Gainesville: Named Most Outstanding Athlete after winning the 100 and 200 meter dash, the 4x100 and the long jump at the Sawnee Invitational last Saturday.

Tennis

Ryan Joiner, Gainesville: Broke a 2-2 tie with Creekview with a singles win to give Gainesville the region title last Friday.

When it comes to high-pressure situations, Gainesville High’s Phillip Gaines is different than most goalkeepers.

Rather than stress over sudden-death penalty kicks with a playoff spot on the line, Gaines finds nothing but fun in it.

“I was just laughing and smiling,” he said. “I just like to have fun.”

Such was the case last Tuesday, when the Red Elephants’ netminder capped off a busy night with a key save to give Gainesville (12-4) a 7-6 win in penalty kicks and a 2-1 win against Johnson, securing the program’s second straight playoff spot.

“We made ours, they didn’t,” Gaines said “I knew we were going to win if we went into PKs. I felt like I was quicker than the other keeper.”

Despite the heavy workload, which included 14 saves in the first half alone, Gaines wasn’t in over his head. In fact, he felt quite comfortable.

“It happens,” he said. “I was a little banged up from the first half, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”

Whether or not the senior can keep his calm composure in playoff action will be tested when the third-seeded Red Elephants visit Area 8-AAA’s second seed Stephens County at 7:45 p.m. Friday.

So far, the upcoming trip hasn’t worried Gaines one bit. His strategy is the same as it has been all season.

“Just go out there and play,” he said.

While Gaines’ laid-back style of play may not fit the system of other coaches, Gainesville coach Rick Howard finds it helps his team more often than not.

“He’s calm, cool and collected,” Howard said. “He makes it fun.”

Howard also points to Gaines’ athleticism has a key to his individual success. At 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, he was a starting linebacker for the Red Elephants football team and was part of the 2008 Region 7-AAA championship team that played in the Class AAA state quarterfinals. He will continue to play football in the fall with Savannah State University.

“He can play any position on the soccer field,” Howard said. “When I took over the program I saw we were lacking in goalkeeper and I immediately thought of him.

“He can get to some balls that most trained, full-time keepers can’t get to.”

More impressively, Gaines’ abilities have been built on only two years of experience in goal. Previously, he played forward but decided to make the move to goalkeeper after losing interest in the attacking positions.

“I got tired of running all over the field,” Gaines said. “I said I would play goalie, and it turned out I’m ok at it.”

Now fully settled in to his spot at the net, Gaines plans to take Gainesville farther than last year, when the Red Elephants lost to Westminster in the first round.

Once again, Gaines’ pressure-free strategy hasn’t changed.

“Don’t let them score,” he said. “And take them to PKs again.”

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