Win or lose, Augusta Prep’s first home football game of the season will be a milestone event.
The Cavaliers are off to a 2-0 start in its second full season as a varsity program. Friday night’s game against Thomas Jefferson Academy (0-2) is the first home game under lights installed during the spring and summer along with a new scoreboard.
When rezoning was first proposed to allow the lights, residents of the nearby Springlakes subdivision resisted. Eventually the two sides came to an accord in August, 2011. As part of the compromise, games will not start until after 7:30 p.m. and the lights will be turned off at 10:30 p.m. – barring unforeseen circumstances.
In a show of good will, Augusta Prep offered Springlakes residents free tickets to the game.
“We have had requests for 19 tickets to the game so far as a result of the outreach effort to Springlakes,” wrote Preston Sparks, Augusta Prep director of communications, in an email.
Sparks asks those attending to bring lawn chairs. A large crowd is expected, and improvements that will increase seating at Blanchard Field aren’t yet underway, .
On the field, the Cavaliers have started strong this year, in part, because of a balanced attack. They average just over 200 yards a game rushing, led by Nolan Brandon and Kevin Huggins, and 128 yards passing by quarterback Jack Owen.
Defensively they have been solid, allowing just 26 points thus far.
Head coach Harry Bacheller’s background is in the running game, throwing maybe four times a game, but he is adapting to use his personnel according to what defenses give him.
“We have a good quarterback with a good arm and some good receivers so we’re trying to use it and not get away from our bread and butter,” Bacheller said.
Bacheller is proud the school will be playing under the lights at home, but is keeping his team’s attention on the game.
“It’s a big deal to a lot of people out there but we’re staying focused and it’s not like it’s the first Friday night we’re playing,” he said. “We had 12 games last year and 11 of them were under Friday night lights somewhere else.”
Thomas Jefferson is not a team Bacheller is taking lightly.
“Our weakness going in is lack of experience against something they might do our kids have never seen in their lives,” said Bacheller.