It would be understandable if first-year Augusta Christian School football coach Bruce Lane examined AC's gridiron schedule, and then circled some key contests for the 2002 campaign.
After all, Lane will face two familiar squads: On Sept. 13 at Pride Valley the Lions play John Milledge Academy, where Lane was a player and later head football coach, and on Oct. 11, when AC travels to Southland Academy, where he was head football coach the past two seasons.
But Lane says, "I'm not thinking about those games right now. I'm sure they will take on importance as we prepare for them that particular week."
If those games don't get a coach's attention, how about back-to-back battles with Georgia Independent Schools Association powers Tattnall Square Academy (Aug. 30) and Stratford Academy (Sept. 6)?
"We're not concerned with them right now," Lane said.
Then there are the meetings that really matter, the Region 1-AAA slate of Eagles Landing Christian (Oct. 18), Riverside Academy (Oct. 25) and George Walton Academy (Nov. 1) to close the regular season.
Those region foes aren't even a blip on Lane's radar screen.
In time, each successive matchup will be placed atop the priority list, but for now only one opponent exists - Briarwood Academy.
Augusta Christian opens its season against the Buccaneers Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Pride Valley.
"It's the most important game on our schedule, because it's the one we're preparing for right now," Lane said last week. "I'm not really thinking about any other game on our schedule. There's so much to be done to get our team ready to play the first football game."
The preparation included attending football camp, and the Lions also have sharpened their skills in scrimmages.
So far, Lane likes what he sees.
"The thing I really like about our kids is they have a hunger for football," he said.
Lane replaces former AC coach Steve Price, who had a successful eight-year stint with the Lions, including a 6-6 record last year.
The Lions have a new head coach, but AC won't have record-setting running back Joel Whinghter piling up yardage this fall. With Whinghter's graduation, expect juniors Cole Rabun (tailback) and Adam McKinney (quarterback) to spark a balanced offensive attack.
"We'll use a lot of multiple formations, motion and shifts," Lane said. "We want to develop an offensive scheme that has aspects of many different offensive philosophies. Our goal is to make folks play defense."
Another goal for Lane is to see his seniors set the tone for 2002. "It's very important that the seniors provide strong leadership, and I think ours have accepted that challenge," he said.
Augusta Christian's seniors are: Matt Lane (tight end/defensive end); David Nelson (kicker); Scott Brantley (tight end/defensive end); Jordan Haywood (running back/defensive back); Ryan Bates (receiver/defensive back); Trey Pitts (offensive line/linebacker); Lance Tucker (offensive/defensive line); Carson Smith (offensive line/linebacker); Dagan Holland (offensive/defensive line); and, Brock Ballis (offensive line/defensive end).
"They are leading by example with their dedication in the weight room over the summer and with hard work at practice every day," Lane said of the seniors. "That has been a very big key for us early on in the preseason."
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