Another year, another state title contender. That's the status at Augusta Christian, entering its fourth year as a member of the South Carolina Independent Schools Association. It's the hope of head coach Bruce Lane that the trend will continue.
"You work your whole career to get to the point where you have a chance to be successful every year," Lane said. "It's still an ongoing process, but we set it up to where each class is supposed to leave a legacy."
The legacy left in 2005 included a SCISA state championship. Last year's campaign ended back at the state title game. The expectations are just as high this season.
"That's pretty much what we expect now after all that success," senior offensive lineman Zach Cooper said. "Anything less would be a big disappointment for our senior class."
It hasn't always been that way in the Lions football program, but since Lane took over the team has won 45 games in five years. The winning formula has remained relatively unchanged; it starts with a star quarterback.
"Tyler was the question mark for a lot of people last year. This year there's no question mark," Lane said.
Senior quarterback Tyler Bourdo has the program on his shoulders this year. The biggest leader on the team is listed at 5-9, but his football intelligence and leadership demands the respect of even the largest Lion linemen.
That includes 6-3, 230-pound Cooper.
"That's just him. He doesn't mind getting in your face if you do something wrong," he said.
Bourdo tallied 14 touchdown passes and 900 passing yards as a junior in a mostly run-first offense. He's the most recent star in a long line of Lion quarterbacks with leadership skills.
"He's got the field presence of Adam McKinney and the elusiveness and big play capability that Lee (Banks) had," said Lane, citing his two previous Augusta Christian quarterback stars.
Bourdo will be helped by a veteran offensive line and a familiar face in the backfield. The Lions lost star running back Kyle Meeks to graduation, but last year's fullback Jay Harmon has become a more than adequate replacement.
"The thing with Jay is he looks to run you over," Cooper said. "He's a power back, and I think he hits the holes harder than Kyle did."
Add in newcomers Corey Critell to the fullback spot and Jonathan Gibbs at defensive line, and the holes from graduation seem to disappear.
Augusta Christian Lions
Aug. 24 at Orangeburg Prep
Aug. 31 vs. Charlotte Latin
Sept. 7 at Pinewood Prep
Sept. 14 vs. Fox Creek
Sept. 21 vs. Porter-Gaud
Sept. 28 vs. Hilton Head Christian
Oct. 5 at Ben Lippen
Oct. 12 vs. Cardinal Newman
Oct. 19 at Heathwood Hall
Oct. 26 vs. Hammond
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