CHILLICOTHE — On the long drive to Chillicothe Saturday for the South Central Ohio League Boys Golf Championship, the Clinton-Massie boys golf team was feeling pretty good.
Hanging on the brink of a historic unbeaten season, the Falcons traveling music consisted of Frank Sinatra, Smokey and the Bandit theme song, Snoop Dog and 50 Cent. Quite a mix for a team about to become one of the few unbeaten teams in Clinton County history.
“They knew what was on the line,” said CM head coach Brian Mudd. “That’s part of what’s made the golf season so enjoyable. They’re just a great bunch of kids to be around. They’re a pretty loose bunch.
“There was not an ounce of nerves on the way (here). I think it would take a lot to get them rattled.”
The Falcons, with two of the top three golfers in the tournament, ran away with the SCOL tournament and overall league championship with a perfect record, 28-0.
Keith Mineer led the way with a 78 (38-40) Saturday while Max Carnevale shot 79 (41-38), Cameron Collett had 83 (41-42), Drew Kienle shot 85 (43-42), Thomas Carter had 93 (47-46) and Caleb Enright had 98 (50-48).
“We all stuck together over the summer and practiced,” said Carter. “We knew we had some pretty good players coming into the year.”
Mineer, the tournament runnerup, shot a 6-over on the par 72 Chillicothe Country Club layout. The course is just nine holes, so every golfer played each hole twice with the first nine yardage 3,150 and the second nine yardage 3,175.
“I had a few shots I left out there but overall I thought I played pretty good,” said Mineer.
Max Carnevale was third at 7-over.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said of being unbeaten.
As for the championship round, Carnevale said, “I was hitting the ball really well. Putting on these greens was a little crazy but I got it together on the back nine and had a pretty good score.”
The talk of an unbeaten season wasn’t the topic of the day. In fact, some players said being unbeaten never came up. Others pointed to a mid-season assessment by coach Mudd that gave them the push to finish strong.
“About half the way through the year, coach told us that we were probably going to be unbeaten,” said Mineer. “I just give coach credit for giving us that kind of boost. No pressure, it just gave us more drive to get there.”
Mudd said his talk with the team wasn’t about being unbeaten, but rather not being satisfied with what they’d already accomplished.
“We had discussions halfway through the year about trying to achieve all that we could achieve and not being happy with what we’d done at that point,” said Mudd. “We had a round we didn’t play well and still won. I just told them that it was great that we were undefeated at the time but we need to try to be better.”
After that Mudd kept the unbeaten speech in his golf bag, so to speak, never to be heard from again.
“There hasn’t been any talk (about being unbeaten) in the last few weeks,” said Mudd. “I think it was on their mind a little bit but we didn’t talk about it (today).”
Mudd is in his first year of coaching golf at CMHS. Long-time coach Andy Copeland retired after this past school year. Phil Larrick has coached the middle school boys golf program for several years.
“I give credit to coach Copeland and coach Larrick for getting these guys where they are now,” said Mudd.
Cameron Collett said this group has been dedicated to golf.
“It’s the same group of kids we’ve been with since the sixth grade,” he said. “It’s great being around the same group of guys, just having fun. We had our challenges throughout the season. We had a lot of diversity in our scores.”
Indeed, five of the six players had their turn at being match medalist during the season. While the 325 team total for the tournament Saturday is a solid score, the team wanted the school’s nine-hole team record of 143. A 149 was their season low for nine holes, Mineer said.
“To have six guys shoot under 100 (for the tournament) is pretty good,” said Kienle. “We never really know who is going to have the best score. We have six guys who are all pretty close in playing ability. It takes some pressure off because you know if you do have a bad day, you have teammates who can back you up.”
Despite the success, the Falcons have the ability to score better, both in the present and in the future.
“All of us have played good golf but I don’t think we’ve all played our best golf at once,” said Enright. “I think all of us could come out here and shoot pretty low scores, play pretty well, but I don’t think we’ve all shot our best all at once yet.”
They’ll have the post-season tournaments, which begin Wednesday morning with the Div. II Sectional at Pipestone Golf Course in Miamisburg, then the Div. II Southwest District tournament at Weatherwax Golf Course. The state tournament is at the Ohio State golf course.
Regardless of how this season ends, Clinton-Massie will have a shot at putting together another unbeaten season in 2016. Enright, Carter and Kienle are juniors while Mineer, Carnevale and Collett are just sophomores.
“This is a great accomplishment … I think their best days are ahead of them,” said Mudd.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.