For Curtis Baptist coach Nathan Duffie, this season was for the lean years, when the Crusaders scored a single touchdown in region play and finished a year with maybe a single win.
Now those former players have a reason to brag.
“It means a lot to everybody who played at Curtis and had real long seasons,” Duffie said. “The fact is they can be proud of where their program is at.”
After years of struggles, the Curtis Baptist football team went 11-3 and reached the GISA Class A state championship game. Duffie’s work on the fast-improving program made him The Augusta Chronicle’s independent coach of the year.
A former Augusta Christian standout, Duffie has helped engineer a dramatic turnaround. After the Crusaders won one game in 2008 and 2009, Curtis Baptist won three, four, six and now 11 games in a year.
With close friend and defensive coordinator Cliff Richards, Duffie has seen the Crusaders go from blowout victims to rout winners as players such as Christian Reid and Ian McDaniel have embraced the work needed to see the growth.
“It’s just so evident that the process is working in the right direction,” Duffie said. “That’s just the coolest thing, to see what these coaches have done and what these players have done.”
Now that Curtis Baptist got a taste of a region title and a state championship appearance, Duffie hopes that brings out a desire to keep the wins coming.
“The last four years, the seniors have set the mark,” Duffie said. “Now, with this class coming up, to continue, there’s only one thing to do. I think they got the message. Once you get that in your head, that’s what you want to play in every year.”