Cougars honored after successful season
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It wasn’t the storybook ending they were hoping for, but it was nonetheless another memorable season for the Lafayette Christian School baseball program.
After winning a state championship in 2019 and seeing their season cut shot in 2020 because of COVID-19, the Cougars finished second in the GAPPS (Georgia Association of Private & Parochial Schools) Division I-AA state playoffs this year.
In the championship series, Lafayette Christian lost two hard-fought games to Calvary Christian, which has won three straight state titles.
Not surprisingly considering they were the top dogs in their classification, Lafayette Christian and Calvary Christian were well-represented on the all-state team. Eleven of the 18 players that are on the all-state team come from the two schools, and there are five Lafayette Christian players represented.
Three of Lafayette Christian’s all-state players are members of a senior class that helped elevate the program to become one of the best in the state over the past few years.
One of those seniors, Cason Firth, leaves Lafayette Christian with state championships in baseball and football.
Firth was a member of the football team that won the state title in 2020 after finishing second in the state the previous two years. Firth was also a key member of the 2019 baseball team that captured a state title.
In all, Firth exits the high-school stage with two state titles and three state runner-up finishes in the two sports combined.
In baseball, Firth was a first baseman and a key member of a formidable lineup.
After the loss to Calvary Christian in the championship series in May, Firth talked about how much of an impact being a member of the Lafayette Christian School family has made on him.
“It’s meant a lot to me. It’s meant the world,” said Firth, whose younger brother Braden Firth is also a standout on the baseball team. “I’ve gone from pee-wee football up to high-school football, I’ve gone from T-ball up to high-school baseball, and hopefully I’ll go to college and play as well.”
Another one of the seniors who made the all-state team is Nathan Karvelas, a pitcher and outfielder who was the Cougars’ clean-up hitter.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Karvelas said after the tough loss to Calvary. “It’s the only team I’d want to play for. I wouldn’t trade these guys for anyone.”
Also earning all-state recognition was senior Adam Barnett, who had a combined three hits in the two games against Calvary Christian.
Barnett was the number two hitter in the lineup and a lock-down defender from the second-base position.
The other two seniors were Tanner Jackson and Kamal Parham, who didn’t make the all-state team but were nonetheless critical to the team’s success.
Jackson was the starting third baseman, and Parham was an important bench player.
Two Lafayette Christian School juniors also earned all-state recognition, including Jacob Karvelas, who was a pitcher, shortstop, and leadoff hitter.
Also making the all-state team was Landon Bush, an outfielder who usually hit in the fifth spot in the order.
Those players helped Lafayette Christian finish with a 24-7 record and beat Covenant Academy and Kings Academy in the state playoffs before falling to Calvary Christian.
While the Cougars fell two games short of achieving their ultimate goal, it was nonetheless an ultra-successful season, and head coach Ben Jackson believes the close relationship of the players was a big season for that.
“A lot of these boys have been playing together since they were five and six-years-old, so they really get along well,” Jackson said. “Even the kids that we haven’t had that long really gel with this group of kids. That’s what makes it so much fun. The kids like each other, and they get along so well. There’s no drama.”
Adam Barnett (senior)
Cason Firth (senior)
Jacob Karvelas (junior)
Landon Bush (junior)
Nathan Karvelas (senior)