Paine football coach Greg Ruffin took notice when he saw Georgia play Saturday.
As the Bulldogs lost three players to knee injuries, depth quickly became an issue. Ruffin said his players have to understand that, like Georgia, they can be called into action at any time.
“It’s next man up,” Ruffin said Tuesday. “It happened with Georgia. When (Keith) Marshall went down, the kid (J.J. Green) and the other kid from Augusta (Brendan Douglas) stepped in and made big plays.
“Don’t dress them if they’re not ready to play.”
Paine opens its club season at 2 p.m. Saturday when it plays host to Georgia Prep Sports Academy at Laney Stadium.The school announced the inaugural Lions Fan Day will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the school’s baseball field. Fans are invited to watch practice and get autographs, while there will also be cotton candy, popcorn and a bounce house for children.
At noon Saturday, the football team will begin a tradition of walking from the Paine campus to Laney Stadium – the Lion Walk.
Paine is loaded with depth, with 131 players currently on the roster. Ruffin said he’ll dress 89 for the contest.
“I’ve got to dress the best 89,” he said. “You’ve got to earn the right to play. It’s not charity.”
Paine held an intrasquad scrimmage for 2 ½ hours Saturday. Ruffin said the defense is good enough to play now in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Division II league the Lions will join next season.
“We’re in teaching mode now,” Ruffin said. “I saw what I needed to see. I’m just trying to take the week to fix everything I saw in the scrimmage.”
Quarterback Loranzo Hammonds, a former North Augusta standout, will lead the team’s offense. As for defense, Paine’s line averages more than 300 pounds.
“We’re going to turn them loose,” Ruffin said, “and I’m going to see who wants to have fun.”