Another high school football season is over, and Columbia County squads took one on the chin in 2002.
Of the county's five prep teams, only Augusta Christian advanced to the state playoffs. Harlem probably should have made it to the post season, and Greenbrier definitely could have ... but neither did.
Harlem's season really hinged on one game, and in that matchup at Harlem, the Bulldogs were shut out 12-0 by Jefferson County.
For the Wolfpack, there were three or four games that could have gone their way, but those potential wins all got away.
Lakeside and Evans really had it tough. The Panthers did not win a game all season, while the Knights earned only one region victory.
Despite all the losing, the news isn't all doom and gloom.
Here were the bright spots:
Lane a success: Augusta Christian's first-year coach Bruce Lane led the Lions to a 9-3 record and the second round of the Georgia Independent Schools Association state playoffs.
Not only was Lane in his first season at AC, but the Lions had lost their all-time leading rusher, Joel Whinghter, to graduation.
In addition to the success on the field, Coach Lane received glowing endorsements from every parent I spoke to.
Youth movement: I personally can't recall a prep football campaign where more underclassmen played such prominent roles on the varsity level.
All five Columbia County teams featured a number of sophomores and juniors in the lineup each week.
Players like Lakeside's Dixon Revell (sophomore), Carl Burrow (sophomore) and Tosin Fawibe (junior); Greenbrier sophomores Justin Jennings, Orlando Pollard, Daniel Landon and Tyler Dent; Cheng Ho, a sophomore standout for Evans; and, Harlem's Tim Camp (junior) and Jon Rickerson (sophomore).
Those are just a few of the young players to keep an eye in in the future.
Coaches who care: For the most part, all high school coaches care about their players, but we are unbelievably lucky in Columbia County.
I don't know Bruce Lane, Jimmie Lewis (Harlem) and Lee Chomskis (Evans) as well as I do Mickey Derrick (Greenbrier) and Randy Hill (Lakeside) - I had the good fortune of playing for Derrick and Hill, and respect both of them deeply.
While covering local sports, I have had a chance to talk with Lane, Lewis and Chomskis, and have nothing but good things to say about them.
Hopefully, these five football coaches will stay in Columbia County for a long, long time.
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