Augusta Prep will soon become the sixth Columbia County school with a football program.
The Martinez private school will field a middle school football team next fall; a varsity football program will come in the following years.
"The first thing we've got to do is find a coach," Augusta Prep athletic director Tom Holodak said. "The plan is for next year we'll do intramurals again and start a middle school team."
Almost 50 Augusta Prep students participated in a football clinic set up by the lower school (grades 2-6) this fall.
Holodak said the large turnout was one of many factors that indicated the athletic department and school were ready for football.
"We wanted to make sure everyone was on board with this, so we did a survey and asked every family in the whole school about it," he said.
"We had 90 percent of families in the lower and middle schools say they'd let their kids play and/or support a football team."
Holodak said there are still questions about when and where an Augusta Prep football team would play, and final answers to those questions won't be decided without the input of a head coach.
The search for a coach has already started.
"We're going to hire from outside the school, and we'll need to start spring football sometime in May," Holodak said. "I'd like to have someone by Feb. 1."
The Georgia High School Association allows for new football programs to play down a classification in the first two years of existence.
Augusta Prep, a Class AAA school, could start a varsity program in Class AA and grow into bigger competition.
"Starting a football program from scratch is very different from starting any other program," Holodak said. "We're taking baby steps."
He said the school would also like to hire a strength and conditioning coach who would help with football and the other sports teams.
Augusta Prep currently offers varsity teams in 10 different sports: cross country, soccer, cheerleading, volleyball, basketball, swimming, golf, tennis, track and baseball.
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