A three-word motto has followed the Augusta Christian football team from spring practices through summer workouts, at a team camp and to preseason scrimmages.
"Tradition never graduates."
The phrase is a reminder that the team can win despite losing several stars from last year's state championship squad. Lion coach Bruce Lane has plugged that idea into the team's philosophy. So far, the results speak for themselves.
"We've got guys who are beginning to fill leadership roles who have not had to do that before," he said. "They're starting to find their own identity as a team. The biggest thing is you've got to find the right chemistry. That's part of the transition within your program."
Leading that transition is junior Tyler Bourdo. The 5-foot-9, 155-pounder will start at quarterback this season taking the place of last season's star Lee Banks. Bourdo's size and athletic ability mirror his predecessor.
"I don't see a whole lot of differences (between Bourdo and Banks)," Lane said. "They're both good option quarterbacks. Their leadership qualities are similar. Lee was not, and Tyler is not, afraid to step into the huddle and take command."
While Bourdo has yet to start a game at quarterback for the Lions, he did take several snaps last year late in games when Augusta Christian held a big lead.
Lane said Bourdo's experience and skill as an option quarterback puts him in an ideal fit with the Lions offensive system.
"You look for guys that are able to make decisions on the line of scrimmage," he said. "What you do is so dependent on what the defense does so you have to be able to adjust on the run."
Those defenses Bourdo and the Lions will face are also a part of the transition made in 2006.
The Lions are still a member of SCISA's Region 1-AAA this year but Lane tweaked the schedule to include a pair of unlikely road opponents. Augusta Christian will travel to Charlotte Latin School, the defending North Carolina Independent Schools Association on Sept. 1. Then the schedule will take the Lions to Fox Creek High School, a public school in North Augusta, two weeks later.
"Hopefully that's going to develop into a great rivalry," Lane said.
The rest of the schedule is all SCISA opponents including the highly competitive Region 1-AAA. In only its third year as a member of SCISA, Augusta Christian is still relatively new to the league. Now with a state championship, the Lions' opponents have plenty of motivation to bring their best efforts to Pride Valley.
"Every Friday night gives you a different challenge," Lane said. "Whether it's because we're the SCISA state champions or whether it's because we're from Georgia, I think everybody will have some type of rallying cry every Friday for us."
The first of those opponents is Orangeburg Prep. The Indians will travel to Pride Valley for Augusta Christian's home opener on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
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