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Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 23 Northside-Columbus


Phil Kerber
Georgia Scouting Director

The Georgia High School Association has announced that opening day of the 2020 season will commence on Feb. 10. Programs were allowed to begin practicing in an official capacity on Jan. 13, meaning it's time for the PBR Georgia staff to break down the high school baseball scene in the state in the countdown to the first pitch thrown in 2019.Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we will be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2019 spring season, touching on programs spanning multiple state classifications, counting down the official PBR Georgia Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Our Preseason Power 25 rankings coverage starts today.

Team: Northside-Columbus
Preseason Rank: 
23
2019 Record:
32-8
Region: 1-4A 
2019 Region Finish: 3rd 
GHSA Classification: 4A
Head Coach: Dee Miller
Playoff Run: State Champions
Returning Starters:
Returning Pitchers: 4

KEy Players Lost
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Colton Joyner GA Northside (Columbus)  2019 RHP/1B Columbus State
Clayton Weaver GA Northside (Columbus) 2019 SS Gordon State
Spencer Chandler GA Northside (Columbus) 2019 OF Columbus State
TOP Players
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Mack Williams GA Northside (Columbus) 2020 OF South Georgia State 
Hunter Poe GA Northside (Columbus) 2020 OF/LHP East Georgia State
Tray Richburg GA Northside (Columbus) 2020 2B  
Conner O'Neal GA Northside (Columbus) 2021 C  
Walt McConnell GA Northside (Columbus) 2021 SS  
Justin Veloz GA Northside (Columbus) 2022 OF  
Conner Sizemore GA Northside (Columbus) 2021 RHP  
Will Graydon GA Northside (Columbus) 2020 RHP Emmanuel College
Top Newcomers
Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Will Bryant GA Northside (Columbus) 2021 OF   
Joey Bialoncik GA Northside (Columbus) 2020 1B/DH  
Gage Washam GA Northside (Columbus) 2020 1B/DH  
Eliu McMoore GA Northside (Columbus) 2022 3B  
X-Factor

The defending Class 4A state champions only lost three players from last year's team to graduation. However, if they are to repeat their magical run, they are going to need to find suitable replacements. This is where newcomers OF Will Bryant (2021), 1B/DH Joey Bialoncik (2020), 1B/DH Gage Washam (2020) and 3B/SS Eliu McMoore (2022) will be counted on. Bryant should step in and fill the void OF Spencer Chandler (2019; Columbus State) left while Bialoncik and Washam battle it out for the now vacant position at first base that RHP/1B Colton Joyner (2019; Columbus State) left.

Despite losing SS Clayton Weaver (2019; Gordon State), the middle of infield is in good hands with the return of Tray Richburg (2020) and Walt McConnell (2021). This leaves one spot in the infield open, at the hot corner. This allows room for the McMoore to step in and make an immediate impact as a sophomore. 

If the Patriots want any chance to repeat the success they had at the end of 2019, then one, if not more, of these newcomers is going to have to step up.

Outlook

Northside-Columbus are sitting pretty in 4A after getting hot at just the right time at the end of the 2019 season, and not returning the majority of their starting lineup and pitching. The Patriots ended the 2019 regular season by winning nine of ten and qualifying for the state playoffs as the No. 3 seed out of region 1. The ball kept rolling from there as they dropped only one game in the state playoffs, winning ten of 11 en route to their first state baseball title.

Now, in 2020, they return the 4A Player of the Year OF Mack Williams (2020; South Georgia State) along with a slew of impact players. The Patriots are experienced up the middle with left-handed hitting C Conner O'Neal (2021), 2B Tray Richburg (2020), and SS McConnell (2021) all back. The bulk of the Patriots lineup should have no problem putting up runs for their experienced pitching staff. 

After spending the 2019 season as the No. 2 pitcher on the staff, RHP Conner Sizemore (2021) will now take up the title of staff ace after the graduation of Joyner. RHP Will Graydon (2020; Emmanuel College) worked as the No. 3 starter last season, but now will take on more responsibility as one of the go-to starters this year. Graydon ended 2019 on a high note. In the winner-take-all Game 3 of the state semis against North Oconee, he went 5.1 innings to earn the 3-1 victory. OF/LHP Hunter Poe (2020; East Georgia State) will be called upon to pull two-way duties once more this year. Williams will also see time on the mound.

The biggest unknown for Northside-Columbus entering 2020 is whether or not they have the depth on the offensive side of things to replace Joyner, Weaver and Chandler. As we mentioned earlier, the newcomers to the squad will be the real X-factor. If they can gel with the rest of the lineup, watch out. Coach Dee Miller is high on this year's team, and for good reason. It will come to no ones surprise to see the Patriots playing late into May once again.

Make sure to follow @PBRGeorgia on Twitter for the most-up-to-date coverage throughout the 2020 season.

Find more information on the 2020 Patriots below:

+ Full Schedule
+ Team Website
+ Team Twitter

Preseason Power 25 Countdown