After climbing to the the top of the hill in 2013, winning the Glory For Christ state football championship, the Augusta Prep Cavaliers might face a steeper ascent in 2014.
In 2013, head coach Harry Bacheller had senior experience along the line and skill positions and it showed as they marched through their regular-season schedule and the playoffs.
The Cavaliers dismantled teams last season. Now they must replace 1,000-yard rushers in Nolan Brandon and Kevin Huggins and quarterback Nate Pylant, who ran Bacheller’s option to perfection.
And it will be the Cavaliers’ inaugural season in the Georgia Independent School Association, playing in Region 4-AAA.
“I think last year’s team would have done well in any league they were in. This year’s team on paper is going to struggle in any league,” said Bacheller. “Last year the league we were in, a lot of teams were younger than us and we took advantage of that. This year we’re switching leagues and we’re the younger guys.”
Bacheller has two seniors: Sam Cleary on the offensive line and Ross Hagler, who will play tailback and linebacker. Bacheller likes what could develop around them.
“The future looks very bright,” said Bacheller. “We have great students and football players that have played before.
‘‘Overall we’re better athletically, although we’re still very, very young.”
Cleary likes the effort he has seen from his younger teammates.
“We’re working extremely hard every day, the scout team is getting us better every day,” Cleary said. “We had great attendance during the summer for our workouts and everybody is working hard to get better.”
Junior wideout Joseph Shaver returns after a knee injury sidelined him after Week 6 in 2013. Who will be throwing him the ball is between juniors Jimmy St. Louis and Josh Rosenblum. Last seen, it was St. Louis starting for the injured Pylant in the GFC championship game, throwing the game-winning pass to Rosenblum in the second overtime.
Another player Bacheller thinks highly of is sophomore running back David Bramble, who rushed for 23 yards on two carries before dislocating his ankle in the title tilt.
Bacheller won’t hazard a guess about the number of wins or losses, and that might not even factor into what he considers a winning season.
“I love the chemistry of this team and I’ve got a feeling that, win or lose, they’re going to be able to walk off the field with their heads held high after each game,” Bacheller said. “That’s more important than any state championship or anything else.”