In high school sports, nothing validates a team's talent and efforts like winning a state championship.
At Augusta Christian Schools, the 2005-06 season led to one validation after another. In a fall season full of volleyball, swimming and cross country, it was the Lions football team that first took the South Carolina Independent Schools Association by storm.
In only its second season as a member of SCISA, Augusta Christian endured a wave of high expectations and claimed a SCISA AAA state championship with a 24-7 win over Porter Gaud in the final game. With a 12-1 record, the Lions earned the school's first-ever football state title under the direction of head coach Bruce Lane. Senior quarterback Lee Banks rewrote much of the school's record books by tallying 1,513 yards passing and 1,164 yards rushing, sparking a combined total of 35 touchdowns in the 13-game season.
As the winter sports began, the Lady Lions basketball team quickly picked up where the football team left off. Despite an early season injury to senior forward Sarah-Beth McKinney, the Lady Lions established themselves as a top 5 SCISA basketball team and were ranked as high as No. 3 in the SCISA top 10 poll throughout the year.
With head coach Keith Walton and senior guard Jordan Little leading the way, the Lady Lions reached the state semifinals for the first time in school history and finished the year with a 23-7 record.
The boys basketball team earned a 14-14 overall record, and the Augusta Christian cheerleaders took the mat in their first season as a competitive squad and finished fourth in state competition.
With the beginning of spring, the state championship banners kept flying with the girls track team. Head coach Bryan Wilson, who was later hired as athletic director at Curtis Baptist School in Augusta, led the Lady Lions to their first-ever SCISA state title. Not to be outdone, the Augusta Christian baseball team began the journey to defend its 2005 state championship.
The Lions pitching rotation took a blow before the season started when top ace Nolan Belcher transferred to Greenbrier. The empty spot provided the opportunity for seniors Josh Sizemore and junior Josh Whitaker to pick up the slack.
Sizemore finished the year with a 9-1 record on the mound, while Whitaker, despite being hampered by a pair of injuries through the season, hit .507 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs. With head coach Craig Johnson at the helm, the Augusta Christian baseball team won a state championship for the fourth time in school history.
As the state championship banners fill the rafters of the Augusta Christian gymnasium, a bid to continue that winning tradition will soon begin again. The Augusta Christian sports year officially starts Aug. 25 with the football team's season opener.
ABOUT THE SERIES
This is part four in a six-part summer series recapping the 2005-06 sports year in Columbia County. Each week The Columbia County News-Times will focus on one school's athletic program and its successes and failures in the 2005-06 school year. A full-page photo recap of the school's Athlete Spotlight students can be found on the back of the sports section.
Year in Review
June 28 - Evans
July 5 - Greenbrier
July 12 - Lakeside
July 19 - Harlem
July 26 - Augusta Christian
August 2 - Augusta Prep
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