The team had entered county rounds at the top of the league with a perfect 4-0 record, with all four wins by the maximum point margin. The wins, however, were against the bottom four teams in the league, and may have ended up hurting the team, said defense attorney senior Jamey Hollis and first year coach David Keller.
“If you look at the team we lost to, they actually faced the top teams in their first four, and you can see that they improved dramatically,” Keller said. “We weren’t being matched against teams that were as competitive as the [Moreau Catholic], and I think it hurt us in the long run.”
Keller said Moreau Catholic used a highly sophisticated argument during the trial that caught Piedmont off-guard. If the team had heard the argument during earlier rounds, they would have responded more effectively, he said.
Still, Keller and Hollis said the team performed well during their last match.
“Whenever you compete you can always do something better, but honestly I think everyone did their best, and they didn’t leave anything at home,” he said.
PHS has had a long tradition of success in Mock Trial Competition, including 17 consecutive qualifications to the state rounds.
“That’s definitely in the back of our heads, that we disappointed everyone—our families, our school, Mr. Kitchens, our ancestors—but we’re very proud,” Hollis said. “We did well, they just did better.
Keller said the PHS mock trial tradition creates great pressure for the team to succeed.
“Part of the reason I’m so upset is that there is such a long tradition here of being successful, so it’s hard to be involved in something that’s not living up to the history of the program,” Keller said.
The team will graduate ten seniors next year, though Keller said he is not worried about next season. Over 40 students tried out for mock trial this season to fill 20 spots, so Keller is confident that there is untapped talent and interest at the school.
Co-coach Elizabeth Shaw will not be returning next year after coaching for two years. Keller said he has already been contacted by interested attorneys who wish to work with the PHS team.
Coming off of his first year as a head coach, Keller said he has learned that the county opponents are extremely competitive with a great knowledge of the law and excellent public speaking skills.
“I learned just where the bar is, where the standard is in the county, and that’s a really important thing for a coach to know,” he said.
Keller said he has new ideas to implement into his coaching method next year to help the team advance past county rounds, but is taking a break from mock trial for now.