SNELLVILLE - Grayson head coach O.J. Soto told his team not to put their clubs away. They were down one shot to Brookwood with one group left. They were on the verge of a six-man sudden death playoff to decide the region championship at Summit Chase Country Club.
Then Michael Allison's score came in.
The Grayson senior shot a 77, holding off Brookwood No. 1 Kevin Seay by four shots to give the Rams their first Region 8-AAAAA championship.
"It feels pretty good," Soto said.
"It doesn't matter if its checkers, I want to win. (Michael) is pretty steady and pretty good under pressure. He doesn't fold."
Before the tournament, many expected that last group of Seay and Allison to decide the championship.
Both players were step-for-step at the turn. Allison went out in 38, while Seay shot 39. Neither player made a birdie. The Grayson senior then started to take command on the back nine. He went bogey-par-birdie-par to grab a three shot lead heading into the par-4 14th. Seay hung a triple-bogey seven, effectively giving Allison the match and Grayson the championship.
"Their coach talked to Kevin on the 18th tee box and told him he had to make a birdie and I had to screw up," Allison said. "Their coach said, "I'm going to put a little pressure on y'all.'"
He didn't screw up and Seay didn't make a birdie. Both finished with bogeys.
"They were neck-and-neck and then (at 14) Kevin had a couple of mistakes," Soto said. "We were very fortunate, it was our day. Kevin could go out their again and beat the pants off of Michael."
Allison's 77 was the second best score on a Summit Chase course that allowed only two players to shoot in the 70s. Grayson finished with a team score of 328 to earn its second trip to state finals at Jekyll Island. Brookwood came in at 331.
"We were very fortunate today," Soto said.
"We could have came out tomorrow and Parkview or Brookwood could have won. Its been a trying year for us. Michael had oral surgery and Josh Sullins had to have brain surgery; that was touch and go for a couple of days."
Brookwood will return to the state tournament for the third straight time. It was the only team to have all its players shoot rounds in the 80s. Rival Parkview came in fourth with a 349.
"It's a pretty great trip to Jekyll," said Brookwood coach Steven Thompson. "We played real consistent just didn't have a great round from anybody."
But the individual star of the show was South Gwinnett's Michael Clayton. He won the individual title by five shots over Allison with an even-par round of 72 on a course that many said was playing very fast, despite the perfect weather.
"I was surprised to win by five strokes," Clayton said. "I thought I could win by a couple or even lose."
He finished with birdies at Nos 9, 13 and 17. But Clayton said the best part of his round was the final hole. He yanked his tee shot near the out-of-bounds. He chipped back into the fairway and hit a wedge 125-yards, over water, to within 30-feet. He drained that putt to walk off with a par.
"It really came down to the last hole. I was really getting nervous. I held it up and kept a good attitude."
Clayton heads to Jekyll for the second time. He made it their with the Comets in 2006.
"It was really hot and muggy and the course was really nice. It was a great experience," Clayton said.
Seay's 81 gave him third. Teammates Taylor Rose and Robert Graham came in a tie for fourth with a round of 83. Grayson's Ben McEwen also shot 11-over-par.