A pair of Columbia County football teams have reached postseason play this year.
Evans has clinched a state playoff bid and will begin first-round action next weekend. Augusta Christian played in the South Carolina Independent Schools Association Class AAA state semifinals this past Friday.
It's a time of excitement and fun as players, coaches and fans watch how far their teams can go.
Fun, that is, unless you're a basketball coach trying to prepare for the season.
Basketball tryouts began Oct. 29 around Georgia. Only a week remains in the preseason schedule before regular-season play begins. While teams at Greenbrier and Lakeside will have three weeks of preseason workouts under their belts, that's not true at Evans and Augusta Christian.
"Three on varsity and four on JV. That's all I've got right now," Augusta Christian boys basketball coach Marty Griffin said. "We're just working on the basics. It's five against air."
Evans basketball coach Kevin Kenny has more players than those at his practices, but three major contributors from last season -- forward Jonathan Nicely, guard Trey Henderson and guard Brandon McCladdie -- are still on the football field. That makes for a sticky situation when it comes to preparing for the upcoming season.
"We're missing four or five key components of our basketball team. They can't practice (basketball) at all, so they might be a little behind," Kenny said. "We want them to be focused and keep their mind on football right now."
Both Griffin and Kenny said they were thrilled to see the football teams doing so well. Griffin said it's a short-term problem with long-term benefits.
"I look at it as a good thing. We don't see it as a negative," Griffin said. "Winning breeds winning. They're learning to win on the football field, and that carries over."
The question is: how much winning will these football teams do? Evans' first-round state playoff football game is Friday. Its first basketball game is scheduled for Saturday.
Two days later, the annual Columbia County Tip Off Tournament will begin.
If the football team wins its first-round state playoff game, the football/basketball players will miss, at minimum, four basketball games.
The more football wins, the more basketball misses. If Evans were to reach the state championship game Dec. 14, the basketball team would already be 10 games into the season.
Fortunately for the football team, Evans' two-sport athletes seem to be focused on the pigskin. There's history to be made. Evans hasn't seen a football season like this in 20 years. Kenny said he wants to see the football team go as far as it can.
"We're deep enough to where we can weather this storm," he said. "If they go all the way to December, that's great. It's good for the school and the county. It's a bonus for everybody."
It could also be a bonus for the basketball team.
"This is a chance for our younger kids to grow up," he said. "This is actually a pretty good year for this to happen. This is probably my deepest team since 2000. I'm keeping 18 on varsity, and we'll be playing 13-14 kids a game."
Evans' first game Saturday will be on the road at Savannah High School. The Columbia County Tip Off Tournament will be held at Greenbrier High School this year, with boys and girls teams from Evans, Greenbrier, Lakeside and Harlem participating.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.