Stevens leads Brookfield golfers to state

Brookfield golf coach Larry Smoot sees Conner Stevens stand at the tee box — though not for long.

The Brookfield sophomore subscribes to the grip-it-and-rip-it approach to golf.

“The pedal is always to the metal for me,” Stevens said.

Smoot said his initial reaction is to be frustrated, but knows full well not to tinker with what works — especially when it comes to the best high school golfer he’s seen in his six years at Brookfield.

The confidence is there, seeing things on the course not readily discernible to most golfers.

Stevens’ 5 iron has pinpoint accuracy, getting him very close to the pin.

“What he does with his golf clubs is amazing,” Smoot said.

The same could be said of this Warriors team, which finished fifth at last year’s state golf tournament.

This is a Brookfield group going from a team happy to be there to one that has a real shot at a state championship, which would be the Warriors first state title in any sport since the 1978 team won the Class AA football championship.

“The team is a lot more confident in winning it,” Smoot said.

Brookfield tees off Friday at 9 a.m., starting on No. 1 at The Ohio State University Scarlet Course in Columbus in the two-day Division III state tournament.

In addition to Stevens, Brookfield has sophomore Justin Atkinson, who could be a No. 1 on most other teams.

Smoot’s son, Nate, a senior, is the team’s No. 3 golfer and the undoubted vocal leader.

Junior Jonathan Hiner is the No. 4, while sophomore Jake Shingledecker is No. 5, definitely not a typical No. 5 golfer.

Larry Smoot said Shingledecker has made the most improvement on the team and says he’s a difference maker.

Shingledecker rounded out the sophomore dominance with an 80 at the district tournament last week in Alliance. Stevens shot a 71, while Atkinson had a 79.

“How many five guys shoot a score like that?” Smoot said.

This weekend, the Warriors will rely on that depth.

“The 3-4-5 are all the same,” Stevens said. “They can shoot 70s whenever they want. I believe we have a great chance to win.”

Staying out of trouble is essential for Brookfield, especially with the deep sand traps on the OSU course.

The Warriors have practiced at Squaw Creek and Avalon Lakes in preparation, trying to work on their sand shots.

The team is staying less than 10 minutes away from the OSU course and the plan is to make this weekend about more than golf.

“You don’t know if you’re going to have this again,” Smoot said. “These are going to be your buddies for a very short time in your life. I don’t want them to forget this.”