By STEVEN MARSH
ROANOKE - Franklin County’s golf team opens its 2019 season today in the opening round of the annual Bob McLelland Metro Invitational at Blue Hills Golf Club, and for the first tine since 2010, the Eagles will be guided by a new head coach.
The Metro’s final round is Thursday at Blacksburg Country Club.
Mike Rogers, who has served as an assistant coach the past several years, has been promoted to the helm replacing Stuart Jamison, who opted to step down in January to spend more time with his family.
Jamison played on the Eagles’ 1999 Group AAA state runner-up squad that featured Matt Chandler, who won the individual state championship that year with a birdie on the 36th hole in what was his final high school tournament.
In 2016, Jamison led the Eagles to a third-place finish in the Class 6 state tournament. That year, former standout John Hatcher Ferguson capped his junior campaign by winning the state individual championship.
During his coaching career, Jamison, the son of former FCHS head golf coach Charles Jamison, steered FCHS to multiple championships in the Western Valley and Piedmont districts, a Conference 3 crown that was won at The Waterfront Country Club in Scruggs, and the South Region title in 2016.
Rogers makes his debut in the same year in which FCHS makes its debuts in the Blue Ridge District and in Class 6 Region A. FCHS is the host team for the region tournament in October at The Water’s Edge Country Club in Penhook.
Rogers, a graduate of Emory & Henry College, has coached in FCHS’s athletic program for 10 years, but this is his first varsity head coaching task. He is a past head girls basketball coach at Benjamin Franklin Middle School and a past assistant jayvee baseball coach at FCHS.
FCHS’s top seven players include five returnees in seniors Timmy Massey and Evan Hahn and juniors Luke Pasley, Rylee Layman and Brayden Walmsley.
Junior Cutter Harvey is a transfer from Pennsylvania and Sam Fansler is a freshman.
FCHS seeks its first Metro title since 2002 when it completed a three-peat of championships. Besides Chandler, a two-time Metro champion, former players Neal Hunt (2001, 2002) won back-to-back individual titles and Luke Hoffman (2006) claimed it once.
Blacksburg, which opened its season by winning Monday’s Heritage Invitational, and Hidden Valley, have been the top teams in the Metro as of late.
Blacksburg took second in last year’s Class 4 state championships and Hidden Valley finished second in the Class 3 state tournament.
The Titans have won four of the last six team championships (2013-2015 and 2017) and the Bruins own the other two (2016 and 2018).
In fact, Blacksburg has claimed all five of its tournament titles since 2007.