Coming in with what head coach Harry Bacheller calls his best team on paper, the Augusta Prep Cavaliers will have a chance to see where they are as a program in their football home- and season-opener Friday night.
The Cavaliers face the Holy Spirit Cougars, who they last faced twice in 2011 – losing both times – while the Cougars won the Glory for Christ title. In 2012, the Cavaliers went 5-4 and lost in the GFC semifinals for the second consecutive season, while the Cougars were 4-5. Still, Bacheller knows the game will be a tough one.
“They’re an established program and more experienced and I’m sure they’re eager to play us, but we’re going to have our first game with our new stands,” Bacheller said. “Last year it was a first game under our new lights. The program is coming together, so hopefully we’ll have a lot of home-field advantage with our fans and the whole atmosphere.”
The Cavaliers return the majority of their offense that averaged 26.5 points-per-game a year ago, but Bacheller will have to find the starting quarterback out of four contenders.
“Historically we have rotated quarterbacks even though Jack Owen was our starter the past 2½ years,” Bacheller said. “We threw in Nate (Pylant) – Nate would quarterback five or six plays when I needed to talk with Jack – because with the team being so small and everybody going both ways, sometimes it’s tough to talk to a player.”
Pylant, Kevin Huggins, Jimmy St. Louis and Zach Sharp are in the running for the job even while Pylant and Huggins are among the Cavaliers’ top returning receivers and running backs, respectively.
“I think we’ll have some rotation (at quarterback), but I think whoever they decide is doing the best job will do a good job,” said junior offensive lineman Sam Cleary.
With a number of players going both ways, Bacheler instituted more conditioning into the practice schedule after focusing more on weight training as he began building his program. The added conditioning has gone over well.
“I think that will be very good for us because even last year when we didn’t do these in two-a-days, we were a good fourth-quarter team,” said senior offensive tackle/defensive end Mac McCall. “I think we can take it to a whole other level this year.”
Bacheller hopes to win the first game, but has the bigger picture in mind.
“With our option game you can easily fumble two or three times and lose the game or execute and win the game, it comes down to that,” said Bacheller. “Executing, we’re not there yet. It’s early in the season, so whether we win or lose, we’ve just got to get better and by the middle of the season be where we need to be to get into the playoffs again.”