The Grizzlies, who finished with a 10-6 overall record, went 8-2 in Region 7AAAAA, and the region title came down to the final game of the season.
Creekview lost its regular-season finale to Cambridge, but when Pope also lost its final game, the Grizzlies were named the region champion, having won the head-to-head game with the Greyhounds earlier in the week.
Creekview coach Shawn McClellan said the team surpassed his expectations.
“What started out as looking for fourth place turned out to be winning,” McClellan said.
For leading Creekview to its first region title, McClellan is the 2014 Cherokee Tribune Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.
McClellan said he couldn’t have done it without the hard work put in by his players, including 10 seniors.
“The season was pretty good in the region,” McClellan said. “I thought we had the potential to reach the state playoffs, but I certainly didn’t think we would finish first in the region. The boys stepped up and played very well. We had great leadership.”
McClellan said the first hurdle of reaching the state playoffs provided some relief. From there, he kept reminding his players that the program had never won a region title before.
“Our other teams that made it to the state playoffs did not win the region,” McClellan said. “(This team) took that as a source of motivation and pride. They wanted to be the first ones because they wanted to see a banner. It was important for them to see that banner in the gym.
“I told them, ‘You can bring your kids back one day and tell them you were a part of that.’ They worked extra hard to get it.”
As the No. 1 seed from their region, the Grizzlies hosted Villa Rica in the opening round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs and won 2-1. However, as the second round came on short rest, Creekview lost 2-1 to Heritage-Conyers to end the season.
Looking toward next season, McClellan said it will be easier to motivate his returning players, now that they’ve experienced the rewards for the hard work. The challenge will be replacing nearly as many players as what make up a starting lineup.
“It will be more difficult because, when you lose that many seniors, there will be some gaps,” McClellan said. “We will be playing in another really difficult region, so if we were able to earn first place like we did this year, would be pretty unbelievable.”
Among the returning players are a pair of defenders in Grant Norton and Brian Dunn. Also returning is goalkeeper Samuel Pelletier.
Because Creekview’s roster is small in numbers, McClellan said incoming freshmen will have the chance to play a significant role if they show they are good enough.
“We will be kind of a patchwork,” McClellan said. “I think we will be a real young team, but by playing freshmen, in four years, we will have a real experienced team, like we did this year.”