Thomas Banks and the Augusta Christian Lions ruled their domain in 2012. They were the kings of private-school football.
Augusta Christian assumed the throne by knocking off six-time defending state champion Hammond, 21-14, to win the SCISA Class AAA state title and cap an undefeated season.
This year, coach Keith Walton decided the team’s motto would be “no pressure, no diamonds.”
“He was like, ‘Man, I like that,’ ” Banks said. “I was with him. We heard it on the radio, and he was like, ‘That’s it. That’s going to be our slogan this year.’ To be able to carve a diamond to fit into a ring, it has to have pressure on it. We want to put pressure on ourselves so we can carve diamonds.”
Banks, a running back, relishes breaking tackles by would-be pretenders for the throne, and he’s ready to extend the Lions’ reign.
“I know what I have to do to win. I know what it takes now,” said Banks, whose sights had been on a state title since he was a 9-year-old taking on older, bigger players. “I’ve been there; I’ve done it. I know what we need to do to get deep in the playoffs.”