The way head coach Keith Walton runs his football program at Augusta Christian could be described as unique – but it’s hard to argue with the results.
The Lions were 5-6 in his first year at the helm in 2009, but their record has improved each year culminating in last year’s 13-0 mark and South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA state championship.
Walton says his system wouldn’t work unless players bought into it.
Some things he’s been able to glean from other coaches, like having players take naps, an idea he adapted from Urban Meyer at Ohio State.
“During the (2012) state playoffs we went to the elementary campus and went to sleep in the sanctuary of the church and, man, they loved it,” Walton said.
Not one to mess with success, naps are on the docket again this year.
“I really think those kids would light me up if I didn’t do that,” Walton said.
Assistant head coach Charles Cooper has known Walton for 20 years, coached with him for a dozen, and says he wouldn’t want to work for anyone else.
“His style is laid-back but very effective,” Cooper said with a laugh. “Most people would see the way he does things, the way he conducts practice and think OK, that’s not going to work, but it works. That’s the thing – it works. He’s very good at learning the temperament of his kids and adjusting his coaching style according to that.”
Walton has a different word for the way he does things.
“I would say we are very unorthodox in what we do,” Walton said. “We only practice offense once a week, we only practice defense once a week. On Thursday, which everybody does walkthroughs, I’m trying to be out by four o’clock.”
While he has adjusted his coaching style to fit his players, his philosophy has never wavered.
“I told our kids and their parents when I first took the job that it’s going to be faith, family, future, in that order,” Walton said. “For the kids I said friends would come under their future. Football is tied up in friends. It can also be tied up in future. But what happens is you tend to take your future and put it above your faith or put it above your family and you become dysfunctional. We’re not going to do that.”
Senior running back Thomas Banks has been with Walton since he took over.
“It’s been a great experience and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Banks said. “He’s just a great guy and a great coach.”