Georgetown Prep's golf team faced an uncertain spring with the majority of its 1984 personnel graduated. Next spring, there should be no doubt about it.
The 1985 Little Hoyas lost only three times -- twice to Metro Conference champion DeMatha -- and went on to capture the Interstate Athletic Conference tournament championship. In a big way.
Prep's 62-stroke victory over second-place St. Stephen's, a team that defeated Prep during the regular season, was unprecedented. In earning the school's first IAC title since 1979, five of Prep's six golfers placed in the top seven while compiling a team total (low five players) of 784 strokes for 36 holes.
Junior Dave Gildea, who was an alternate on last year's varsity but never played, took the individual honors with a two-day score of 153, shooting 76-77 at Woodlawn and Argyle country clubs.
Teammate Chris Cusack tied Landon's Casey Awe for second with 155, and Doug Yeatman and Matt LaVay shared fourth. Those four were named all-IAC, and Ed Powell, seventh overall, missed league honors by just two strokes. If Powell had not taken a 9 on one par-4 hole, he probably would have made the top five.
For Georgetown Prep's third-year coach, Bob Barry, the success was a pleasant surprise and a welcome return to Prep's prestige of the early 1970s when it had one of the top programs on the East Coast.
"I wasn't necessarily worried about rebuilding this year after we lost those six players, because I knew what the rest of the IAC could do," Barry said. "I thought Landon was the team to beat, but I was confident we could do well as long as there were no surprise teams. As it turned out, we were the surprising one.
"I had two question marks entering the season. One, I didn't know whether Dave (Gildea) was strong enough to be a No. 1 player at the varsity level, and, two, I didn't know if Doug Yeatman could hold his own every match," Barry said.
"My questions were answered quickly. Dave showed he could lead this team and Doug did a good job at No. 6. Those two were like bookends. When I went into a match knowing they could win for me, I felt the rest would fall in place. The others I knew were pretty even-steven. We had the kind of team where our No. 6 player was capable of playing No. 1 on a given day and vice versa."
Gildea, whose previous best personal triumph was a junior club championship at Kenwood Country Club, said he had few expectations before the season and believed the team would need some time to jell. But he was glad Barry never told the players that.
"He never said anything about it, and I think if he had, it probably would have been a letdown to us," Gildea said. "Coach helped us a lot this year. We have a good relationship with him and you need that on a team. It's much easier to do well when your coach is like a friend."
Barry seems on the verge of establishing another dominant power at Prep. With only Cusack graduating, next year's squad is ripe for another title, only it won't be able to storm the league as an underdog.
"I can look forward to next year because the kids that played this year were all sound players," Barry said. "There were no flukes. These kids have a good grounding in the sport; the kind of coaching I have to give them is not in the swing, it's just in how they play the matches. We came into this season with practically no varsity experience. Now that we've got it, my job's a little easier."