His program is the defending state champion, but Augusta Christian coach Keith Walton knows this year’s team isn’t assured of anything.
That undefeated season that ended with a SCISA Class AAA state title? The 2012 team did that. Now it’s 2013’s turn.
“2013 hasn’t done anything – 2012 did,” Walton said. “My goal is to get better. You got to get better. Our goal is to get all 11 men on the field, from special teams, defense, offense, to give their very best at all times. If we do that, the scoreboard will take care of itself.”
A year after winning it all, the Lions do return familiar faces. Running back Thomas Banks rushed for 1,436 yards and wide receiver Nick Fortenberry had nearly 1,000 yards as juniors. Augusta Christian also has intimidating size on the line, with junior Zach Giella listed at 6-foot-6.
The only big offensive question is at quarterback, with 2012 independent player of the year Tyler Roberson graduated. Walton said three players are in the running for the job, with today’s scrimmage against Westminster a situation he hopes will create separation. Hunter Beyersdoerfer, Matt Chiera and Matthew Peavler are in contention.
“We’re in good hands. They all can make the throws,” Walton said. “I have to see the result of how they run the team and try to make a decision based off that.”
On defense, coordinator Charles Cooper leads a unit Walton said was probably a little underrated considering the high-scoring offense put up big numbers.
Junior defensive back Kobie Brinson is among the returners for a group that recovered five fumbles in a 21-14 win against Hammond in the championship game.
The Lions should be right in the mix again this season.
“It’s going to be hard. We got a big target on our back,” senior linebacker Tyquan Burns said. “But we can overcome it if we work together.”