New relationships take time to develop.
Augusta Christian coach Bruce Lane works with his team during practice. He led the team to a 6-5 record in its inaugural season in the South Carolina Independednt Schools Association but hopes to go deeper into the playoffs this season.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
This year, Augusta Christian begins its second season in the South Carolina Independent Schools Association, and Lions coach Bruce Lane hopes to accelerate the growth of the relationship.
ACS went 6-5 in their inaugural season in SCISA, but the team hopes to do better this season..
"We learned more about some of the teams in SCISA," Lane said. "Hopefully that will pay off this year. There isn't that growing process this season. But all those teams know more about us."
Lane brings back nine offensive starters and seven defensive starters from a team that struggled with inconsistency last season before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Orangeburg Prep.
With the returning experience, the inconsistency figures to be gone.
"We have so many guys that have lined up in key situations," said linebacker Dillon Quick. "We will be ready for anybody this season."
Heathwood Hall will be the biggest stumbling block in front of the team. The defending state champion Highlanders have SCISA's best player - quarterback Brandon Gantt - and get to play the Lions on their home turf in Columbia.
"They are a powerhouse team," Lane said. "They will be tough to beat."
Everything the Lions do offensively will revolve around quarterback Lee Banks.
Banks is the leading returning passer and rusher in the county and runs the Lions' option-heavy offense effectively.
Augusta Christian's Kyle Meeks is tackled after a long run by Calhoun Academy's Kyle Tomlinson in a game last season. in Evans. The Lions return nine offensive starters and seven defensive starters, including Meeks.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Lee is our leader, and he can do just about anything," Quick said. "He throws; he runs; he punts; he does it all."
All-Region tight end Austin Greene and All-State fullback Jay Harmon are two of Banks' weapons. Kyle Meeks and Quick add to the running game, while Nolan Belcher and Tyler Bourdo are targets in the passing game.
Frank Morris, who was an all-area pick by The Augusta Chronicle, anchors a line that returns four starters.
The defense pitched two shutouts during the season and have five of the top seven returning tacklers in the county.
Will Nelson, Clayton Adams and Meeks are returning starters on the defensive line and combined for seven sacks last year.
Quick is a standout linebacker and will team with Harmon, who led the county with 119 tackles and six sacks.
All four starters return in the defensive backfield for the Lions.
The secondary's leader is Greene, who posted 103 tackles and was the only two-way player that started every game on both sides of the ball. Junior safety Josh Whitaker added another 117 tackles.
Cornerback Will Wright forced three fumbles, while the other Lions cornerback Taylor Hensley intercepted four passes.
"We feel real good about our secondary," Lane said. "All of those guys had great seasons, and we have some depth behind them."
Banks, an All-County punter, and placekicker Alden Fisher shore up a strong special teams unit.
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