There was class warfare last week at Blanchard Stadium, as the Evans High School football program pitted the freshmen against the sophomores in a scrimmage game.
"The freshmen and junior varsity seasons ended two weeks ago, so we're doing it to keep the kids interested," Evans head coach Lee Chomskis said.
The Thursday contest featured a band, cheerleaders, and a public address announcer - and the pre-game buildup added to the hoopla.
"The players have been talking it up in the weight room, going back and forth," said Rodney Garvin, who helped coach the sophomore squad. "This was their Super Bowl, and that was the way they approached it."
The scrimmage won't be running on ESPN Classics anytime soon, but it was a battle for bragging rights, and both sides wanted to win.
"We stepped up and played like we thought we could," freshman Brandon Baldwin said. "I believe was gained some respect."
The sophomores drew first blood when quarterback Brad Freeman tossed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Crislip. Orlando Bradley's 2-point run made it 8-0. Buddy Dymeck pounded for a second-quarter score, and Reid Tankersley's extra-point increased the lead to 15-0 at the half.
The freshmen fought back in the second half. Tailback Shawn Maw leaped over the line into the end zone, and Israel Machovec threw a 2-point conversion pass to Shawn Ward to trim the margin to 15-8.
The sophomores appeared to put the game away when Freeman found Clay Etterle for a 27-yard touchdown, and Timmy Steflik capped the third quarter with an 80-yard bomb to Bradley to make it 29-8.
On the ensuing kickoff, James Cullen gave the freshmen momentum with a 65-yard touchdown return. Later, a 17-yard pass across the middle from Machovec to Kevin Lewis pulled the freshmen within 29-20.
After Lewis recovered an onside kick, the freshmen mounted a drive, and eventually scored on a trick play - Maw took the handoff and lofted a pass to Matt Starke, who on campus this year.
With dedicated coaching, and superb senior leadership, the Cavs recorded a record of 11-4, more than doubling their win total from the previous season.
For their efforts, Mark LaVine and Peter Schumacher were selected to the all-state soccer team.
In addition to the sporting exploits, much of the increase in school spirit can be attributed to the cheerleading squad, which was a catalyst for fan support at both home and away contests. The cheerleaders pitched in by making spirit posters and leading the homecoming pep rally.
Senior Mary Beth Mitchell was named to the Universal Cheerleading Association All-star Squad.
This is my first year as athletic director at Augusta Prep, but I have been at other institutions where success in athletics was evident. Still, there is a special atmosphere here at Augusta Prep that I haven't experienced before.
Being at a smaller school, you feel a sense of unity, and that begins at the top - Head of School Jack Hall is Augusta Prep's biggest cheerleader, and is often on the sidelines lending his support.
And when he was unable to attend the state cross-country meet, Mr. Hall was on his cell phone asking for updates every 10 minutes.
Rick Cameron, head of the upper school, also deserves some credit. As "The Voice of the Cavaliers," he announces starting lineups at all home contests.
With a small student body, a myriad of extracurricular options and a demanding academic program, Augusta Prep's coaches, teachers and directors must share the talents of the student-athletes.
In turn, the student-athletes juggle play rehearsals, sports practices and academic workloads, yet still find time to support their classmates by attending their endeavors.
For example, Adrian Ash was one of the top runners on the cross-country team, and also has a leading role in the school play, a situation requiring cooperation between her coach and theater director.
Additionally, I am very proud of the academic accomplishments of our student-athletes, and would like to congratulate senior Sarah Gerstein - she was recently named to the Academic All-American Scholastic Swim Team. She also found time to serve as manager for our cross-country program.
So, the next time you visit the Augusta Prep campus, you will understand the proud smiles donning the faces of students, athletes, faculty members and administrators alike.
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