Augusta Christian completed a perfect season Saturday night and claimed the South Carolina Independent Schools Association state title with a 21-14 victory over SCISA powerhouse Hammond.
Hammond had won six consecutive state championships, but came up short this time around. And to make sure there was no doubt about the best team in SCISA, it was the second time the Lions had beaten Hammond this season.
This was the season Augusta Christian head coach Keith Walton was pointing to four years ago when he elected to start a handful of freshman over upperclassmen. Quarterback Tyler Roberson, center Matt Herzwurm, fullback/linebacker Sean Sweeting and linebacker Gaige Gilbert were among those freshman starters four years ago.
The Lions had a good season with those ninth-graders and the results reaffirmed Walton’s decision to start a “youth movement” on Baston Road and gave him hope for the future. The Lions mixed in a talented running back in Thomas Banks, a steady defensive end in Terin Quarles and a big play wide receiver in Nick Fortenberry.
All the hard work the group has put in culminated in a perfect season. I could sit here and gush over the performances of individual stars or go through the tremendous season stats, but after I got word the Lions had won, all I thought about was how happy I was for Walton.
This is the epitome of good things happening to good people. I defy you to find someone willing to say anything bad about Coach Walton. Everyone loves the guy and at Augusta Christian that makes perfect sense. He basically has given his life to the school. From his days as a standout running back in the early 1990s to his current role, he is Augusta Christian.
The respect for Walton is much more far-reaching. Opposing coaches, fans of other teams and basically everyone who has ever met the guy loves him. I have a ton of respect for him. His motives are genuine. Sure, he wants to win, but his ultimate goal is more important. He wants to mold young men and teach them Christian values to live by.
Walton is the perfect person for his job. He would be perfect if the team had gone 2-11. The fact that the team went 13-0 and won the state title does make the justification a little easier. He has instant credibility for the new, young crop of Lions coming through the program.
It is safe to say that Keith Walton scored one for the good guys Saturday night. It is proof that when you do things the right way, with the right intentions, the sky is the limit.