If the First Presbyterian Day School football team ever wanted to change its nickname, "Lion Tamers" would be an appropriate moniker.
FPD mastered the Augusta Christian School squad again last week at Pride Valley, where the Vikings beat the Lions 21-7 in the second round of the Georgia Independent Schools Association Class AAA playoffs.
Augusta Christian came into the Friday night contest with a five-game winning streak, which began after the Lions were pounded 30-0 by First Presbyterian in Macon on Sept. 27.
Also, Augusta Christian exited the 2001 playoffs with a first-round loss to - guess who?
The latest failure against FPD marked AC's third loss to the Vikings in three meetings, and was only the second defeat for the Lions at Pride Valley since 1999.
"Our guys came out and did a great job of carrying out the game plan," AC coach Bruce Lane said. "You can't fault the effort. It just wasn't quite enough."
The Lions used multiple defensive fronts and a fierce blitz in an attempt to counter FPD's passing attack, and the ploy worked for much of the game.
The Vikings countered with a stiff defense, limiting AC to 101 rushing yards for the game, and holding tailback Joel Whinghter to a season-low 13 yards.
First Presbyterian took a 7-0 lead into halftime, then tacked on 14 points in the third quarter to put the game away.
Augusta Christian scored a late touchdown when quarterback Adam McKinney threw a short pass to Matt Lane. Subsequently, the Lions attempted an onside-kick, which was executed perfectly by McKinney, but the ball ricocheted directly to a Viking.
It was that kind of night for Augusta Christian.
Despite the season-ending loss, Lane's first coaching campaign at AC was highly successful. The Lions finished the season with a 9-3 record and captured the Region 1-AAA championship.
But Lane wasn't looking for any accolades.
"The story of this year is our kids and our assistant coaches," Lane said. "That's where the credit for this season needs to go. Anyone who says differently hasn't been around our football team."
While he readily praised assistant coaches Keith Walton, Bryan Wilson, Craig Johnson and Charles Cooper, Lane reserved the greatest compliment for his Lions.
"This is the 14th high school squad I've had the privilege to coach. They're all special, but this group has really captured my heart," Lane said. "Our kids are tremendous, win, lose or draw. All year long our kids fought and played hard. They'll be able to look back and see they've made great strides for our program."
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