Freshmen and sophomore football players usually need some seasoning, but the junior varsity squad at Augusta Christian Schools didn't have time to spare.
The young Lions were forced to grow up fast, and that's exactly what they did during the 2003 season, according to AC junior varsity coach Charles Cooper.
"The season was an unexpected surprise. We played well," Cooper said. "In years past, the focus on JV was to put the players in situations where they would be ready to respond at the varsity level. This season, all the junior varsity games were close, and the freshmen and sophomores showed a lot of maturity."
The Augusta Christian junior varsity finished with a 5-1 record, and achieving that mark took some effort.
In AC's opening game, quarterback Will Wright broke his leg. Lee Banks stepped in at quarterback and led the Lions, while Dillon Quick contributed strong play at tailback, fullback and linebacker.
"We played through injuries, and we had players step up and perform well in positions they normally wouldn't play," Cooper said. "The great thing was we were able to develop players that can help us on Friday nights."
As the only Class AAA football team among the area's private-school programs, Augusta Christian's junior varsity had to travel two hours to compete in road games this season.
"The boys handled that well," Cooper said. "They learned how to have a businesslike approach and how to prepare for a game mentally."
When kickoff time arrived, that attention to detail and the ability to focus paid off for the Lions.
"Our strength this season was determination. We had only 16 players, and many times the guys had to grind it out in the fourth quarter," Cooper said. "The JV players don't see much glory on Friday night, but they were really determined, and that won some games for us."
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