A young Augusta Christian defense began the season with a challenge. It started in the secondary.
"We were a weak point at the beginning of the season," junior Micah Herriman said. "It always seemed like the first play of the game everybody tried to go deep on us."
Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. Against Wilson Hall in last Friday's SCISA Class AAA state semifinals game, the Lions defense held their ground.
Wilson Hall entered the game with a perfect 11-0 record but left with a loss and an end to its season. The home Barons didn't get into the end zone once.
"It was our goal to have a shutout," Augusta Christian senior linebacker Travis Cerasuolo said. "We had nothing to lose. They were the ones with the perfect season on the line. The pressure was on them."
Cerasuolo led the Lions with 12 tackles in the game. Herriman and Cameron Taylor each grabbed an interception in the second half that led to 10 Augusta Christian points.
The defensive performance was no fluke. Cerasuolo and Herriman have been two of the leaders all season long.
"We say that Travis is our quarterback on defense. He makes the adjustments and relays things to our defense," Augusta Christian defensive coordinator Craig Johnson said. "As for Micah, he's kind of come out of nowhere, and had quite a season so far."
Herriman now has seven interceptions on the season. The school record for picks in one year is eight set by Will Wright in 2005. With one game left the junior could make school history, but he said that's not the main goal.
"You've still got to do your job, but at free safety it's easier to get one," he said. "You just have to watch the quarterback and read the play. It's just like playing in the back yard."
That will be the defensive approach on Friday when the Lions return to the SCISA Class AAA state championship game for the third consecutive year. Hammond, who has defeated Augusta Christian the last two times they faced each other, will be the opponent once again.
Cerasuolo said things will be different from the 28-21 loss in the region title game.
"We had a total let-down that game," he said. "We just came out flat. This time it's going to be different."
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