An undefeated record doesn't fully describe Augusta Christian's football season five weeks into the 2005 campaign. A calculator helps.
Augusta Christian quarterback Lee Banks picks up a football during practice last week. Augusta Christian is ranked No. 2 in the state and will play No. 1 ranked Heathwood Hall on Friday.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
So far, the Lions have outscored their opponents 168-34. The team is averaging 42 points per game with eight different players finding the end zone at least once.
The Lions' success has earned them a No. 2 ranking in the South Carolina Independent School Association Top 10 Poll.
On Friday, Augusta Chris-tian will face the No. 1 team.
Heathwood Hall, also undefeated with a 4-0 record, welcomes the Lions to the home field of one of the most intimidating teams in SCISA. Heathwood Hall in Columbia, S.C. is the defending state champion and will enter Friday's contest with an 18-game winning streak after beating Byrnes this past weekend 49-0.
"This game is being highly publicized here," Heathwood quarterback Brandon Gantt said. "They're coming to our house. I know it's early in the season, but this could be for the region title."
Gantt said his offensive unit will be prepared for the Lions. The defending state champs have shredded their first four opponents in the 2005 season. The star QB is talented, but said his success comes from his front line.
"Our offensive line is great," he said. "They have only given up two sacks in the last two years."
Last season's championship run included a stop in Martinez. Heathwood Hall came into Pride Valley and had no trouble giving Augusta Christian a 39-6 loss.
"I have the game tape at my house," Augusta Christian lineman Frank Morris said. "I've watched it a lot. We lost our composure."
Augusta Christian hopes for a little revenge on the road Friday.
"To me, it's payback," Morris said. "We want some respect."
Augusta Christian Head Coach Bruce Lane recognized the big match-up, but said he knows there might be a bigger game ahead.
"If this was being played Nov. 18 for the state championship it would be something," Lane said. "The only added significance to this game is it's our first region ball game."
In SCISA, no region is tougher than Region 1-AAA. Three teams, Augusta Christian, Heathwood Hall, and Hammond are undefeated through the first half of the season and fighting for the region's top spot. The Lions know they can't stop now.
"Going 4-0 is nothing," senior linebacker Dillon Quick said. "Everybody wants to beat Heathwood."
The game will also include individual match-ups featuring the best SCISA has to offer.
For Heathwood Hall, Gantt is the man to stop. The quarterback leads SCISA in passing with more than 700 yards in the air and is in the top five in SCISA with more than 400 yards rushing.
"If you shut Brandon Gantt down you shut their team down," senior linebacker Dillon Quick said.
Fortunately for the Lions, they have a quarterback to match.
Starting quarterback Lee Banks is a powerful weapon in the Augusta Christian offense. With nine passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns, the senior leads the area in scoring.
One other factor should help the Lions. They've been on their bye week. With two weeks to prepare for the Lions' toughest challenge of the regular season, the rest has hit at an ideal time.
"It's good for us that we will be fresh," Quick said.
The team has taken advantage of the break by using the extra time for film study.
"We've done more of that this year," Lane said. "Each kid has his own scouting tape. We also give them a written scouting report."
Each week, the players are required to study their film with a written test at week's end.
Quick said if a player fails the test, he runs.
"Sometimes Coach gives you a blank tape to see if you watch it," Morris said.
According to the players, film study makes a big difference in their performance on Friday night. Coach Lane said it's more work to prepare the tapes, but the team has already seen improvements.
"I've got a tremendous group of assistant coaches," Lane said. "It is more work, but the kids are more prepared. Their ability to perform is a lot greater if the kids can focus in on the guys they'll face."
With all the preparation, practice and hype, the players said after a two-week wait, they'll be ready to play.
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