When Augusta Christian lineman Frank Morris thinks about last year's game against Heathwood Hall, he can only shake his head.
"I have the game tape at my house," he said. "I've watched it a lot."
Heathwood Hall, the Lions' region rival in the South Carolina Independent School Association, rolled over Augusta Christian that night with a 39-6 thumping in front of the Lions' home crowd.
"They weren't prepared for our offense," Heathwood Hall starting quarterback Brandon Gantt said.
Gantt, the star of Heathwood Hall's offense, led the team to a 2004 state championship. This year, he leads SCISA with 767 yards passing and nine touchdowns in five games. Heathwood remains ranked No. 1 in the SCISA Top 10 Poll.
Augusta Christian is No. 2.
Tonight, the Lions will travel to Heathwood Hall for a region battle to determine the top spot. Heathwood Hall enters with an 18-game winning streak. Augusta Christian, also undefeated at 4-0, brings a year-long grudge.
"To me, it's payback," Morris said. "We want some respect."
On paper, the Lions have the stats to match Heathwood Hall.
In Augusta Christian's first four games of the season, three different Lions have rushed for over 200 yards and scored at least three touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Lee Banks has thrown for 504 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Lions' defense has 15 sacks and eight interceptions. Dillon Quick leads the team with 40 tackles, but according to the senior linebacker, the stats don't matter.
"Going 4-0 is nothing," he said. "Everybody wants to beat Heathwood."
The Highlanders have had a target on their backs since last season's state title run. So far, they've had no trouble defending their top spot. According to Gantt, Friday's game could be Heathwood Hall's toughest challenge.
"I think (Augusta Christian) might have a slight advantage because they have an extra week to prepare," Gantt said. "It will be high scoring. It may come down to who has the ball last."
Augusta Christian head coach Bruce Lane said he realized how important the game is to his returning players, but hopes to keep Friday's game in perspective.
"It's hard to say the fifth game of the year is our biggest game," Lane said. "If this was being played November 18 for the state championship it would be something."
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 863-6165 ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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