When fullback Nolan Brandon graduates this year, a significant chapter in the Augusta Prep football history book will be closed.
Brandon and quarterback Nate Pylant are the only players who have been with the football program since its inception five years ago.
Brandon had played football just once before, in third grade, but he liked the opportunities that football presented to him as an eighth-grader.
“It was just getting to be the start of something,” Brandon said. “Being the first ones there, saying, ‘Hey, I was that first kid,’ and I know Nate (Pylant) can say, ‘Hey, I’m the kid that got the first touchdown in Augusta Prep history.’ Just being the ones to start the team off was really exciting.”
Brandon said that head coach Harry Bacheller talks to the seniors about setting the stage for future classes.
“See, the thing for us is also that the kids below us have somebody to watch, to look up to, to follow to see how they should be doing it,” Brandon said. “We didn’t have anybody, we had to kind of figure it out from what coach (Harry Bacheller) was telling us. He’s really wanting us to set a good example for everyone else and we’re doing our best to do that.”
Bacheller likes the example Brandon has been setting for other players.
“He lives in the weight room but somehow is still one of our top students if not the top student in the school,” Bacheller said. “Great role model in the weight room, great role model in school.”
Brandon achieved a significant milestone after rushing for 184 yards against East Atlanta on Friday. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is the first in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, having piled up 1,082 yards and 13 touchdowns in the team’s first six games. He was the CSRA’s leading rusher by more than 200 yards heading into the contest. While he says he has worked hard for five years to reach the milestone, he gives most of the credit to others.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s my accomplishment, really, it’s the team’s accomplishment because my offensive line has exponentially improved every year,” said Brandon, who describes himself as a sack of potatoes on legs. “Now if I didn’t have them blocking for me, I wouldn’t be able to run at all. They’re doing a fantastic job, I couldn’t ask for more.”
The years spent with the team have gone by fast for Brandon.
“I can’t even put my head around it,” he said. “Forty games is a lot, and it’s gone by fast. I love it and it’s been a lot of work. Football is year-round and I love it and I’m having a great time. I’m sad to see it go.”
While he thinks it might be the end of his football playing days, he is a congresssional nomination away from heading where he wants to be next year, which is at the U.S. Naval Academy.
“Of course there’s the service to the country, giving my part back, but the large part of it for me is this concept of – if you’ve ever seen The Lords of Discipline – the whole man, improving myself in physical, moral and mental aspects, all of it,” Brandon said. “Just becoming the best person I can be and really challenging myself.”
Assured of a spot by the Navy should he get the nomination, and if the opportunity arises, he wouldn’t mind continuing his football career.
“That would be a pretty incredible experience to play football for the Naval Academy,” he said.