Each week during the summer, The Columbia County News-Times will highlight a different high school with a look back at its five biggest stories from the previous school year.
This week's focus is on Augusta Christian Schools.
The Lions' year was wrought with personnel changes.
Athletic director and football coach Bruce Lane and baseball coach Craig Johnson each stepped away once the school year concluded.
Both men's replacements came from existing Lions' staff.
Boys basketball coach Marty Griffin will be the Lions' next AD. Girls basketball coach Keith Walton was named head football coach.
And Johnson was replaced by his former assistant, Jack Hook.
The past school year also saw the start of Augusta Christian's first wrestling program. The Lions won their first match at home against Ben Lippen.
The Lions girls basketball team, led by junior Elizabeth Alewine, overcame illness and injury to capture the SCISA I-AAA region title. Alewine was named The Augusta Chronicle All-Area Independent Schools Girls Player of the Year after avoiding injuries that had plagued her in the past.
Here is a look back at five of the biggest stories during the year.
Ex-Lions coach heading to Texas to find his calling
Feb. 22, 2009
Bruce Lane said the restless feeling started about a year ago.
The Augusta Christian football coach and athletic director said he felt God was leading him toward opportunities in Texas, where he had visited multiple times for missions work.
Lane will leave Augusta Christian at the end of the school year, after seven years at the Martinez school. He is headed to Texas after being hired at Fort Bend Baptist Academy to coach football and teach history and weight training.
"I'm very appreciative of the opportunity I've had to serve here the past seven years," Lane said. "It's an outstanding group of players and coaches and school family that have been very supportive. While we're looking forward to a new opportunity, we're certainly going to be sad to leave a place that has been so special."
He flew to Texas in January to visit the school and for another interview. His hiring was official Feb. 11.
Before Augusta Christian, Lane was at Southland Academy in Americus, Ga. He said his career stops have usually been opportunities to build schools and programs, and that Fort Bend would be similar.
Lane said the school's football program was still nascent, and that it planned to break ground soon on a 1,200-seat stadium, fieldhouse and eight-lane track.
"This is a football program in its infancy," Lane said. "We're excited about the opportunity."
Walton to succeed Lane as Lions coach
March 1, 2009
Augusta Christian wasted little time finding a replacement for departing football coach Bruce Lane.
Keith Walton, an assistant to Lane for seven years and the Lions' girls basketball coach, was named last week as the Lions' next football coach.
"My recommendation was that the school hire Keith as the head football coach," Lane said. "As far as how much that went into the final decision, certainly Keith stands on his own merit. He had my 100-percent support."
Walton served as the Lions strength coach and coached the offensive line in addition to his title as assistant head coach.
"He has a great rapport with kids," Lane said. "He knows his football. He is certainly very deserving of this opportunity."
Lane said he thought the school's board was making progress with its search for an athletic director, a position Lane will hold until the end of the year.
Also, Augusta Christian baseball coach Craig Johnson, who led the Lions to three consecutive SCISA Class AAA titles will depart after the season.
Enthusiastic fans show up for fledgling wrestling team
Jan. 14, 2009
Christian Lane was watching television one day last year when he decided it was time to bug his dad about starting a wrestling team at Augusta Christian.
Bruce Lane, Christian's father and the school's athletic director, had been mulling over the idea for a while. The Lions had purchased a used wrestling mat last summer for football workouts.
All the program needed was interest and a coach. They quickly found both.
Lane received a solid response from a survey he conducted at the beginning of the school year. Rob Nordan, the school's band director, offered to lead the program.
The Lions played host to their first match Jan. 8, beating Ben Lippen 48-30.
"It feels good," said Christian Lane, a sophomore who won his heavyweight match with a first-period pin.
Augusta Christian junior Clayton Perry said he and his teammates wore suits and ties to class the day of the match to drum up interest among their classmates.
A large crowd showed up to watch the Lions' inaugural match, despite its being staged the same time as college football's Bowl Championship Series title game.
Griffin named athletic director at ACS
March 22, 2009
Augusta Christian looked within to fill its athletic director opening, and quickly filled it.
Marty Griffin, the Lions varsity boys basketball coach, was announced as the school's AD last week.
But Griffin said he had accepted the position weeks before, after talks with interim headmaster John Bartlett.
Griffin will replace Bruce Lane, who will leave at the end of the school year to become head football coach at Fort Bend Baptist Academy in Texas.
"I'm excited," Griffin said. "Coach Lane, the last seven years he's been here, has obviously done an outstanding job. Our athletic program is in great shape because of his leadership. I'm just excited about carrying that on."
Griffin said one of his primary objectives would be to fill the vacant coaching slots. Lions baseball coach Craig Johnson has announced he will leave after the school year, leaving his assistant jobs also vacant.
Keith Walton was named Lane's replacement as head football coach.
Other than the vacancies, Griffin said there were no other immediate needs that needed to be addressed.
"We're in pretty good shape right now," Griffin said. "It's a matter of improving in all areas."
Lions pull out overtime win over Heathwood
Oct. 8, 2008
William Banks didn't want to see another overtime after what had happened the week before.
But the Augusta Christian quarterback and his teammates were hoping to get there again as Heathwood Hall lined up a potential game-winning field goal with 4.7 seconds left in regulation.
The kick missed wide right and the Lions beat the Highlanders 35-31 with Banks' 7-yard touchdown scramble in overtime.
"I was thinking, 'We can't let this happen again,'" Banks said. "I didn't want it to come down to the other team missing a field goal."
A week earlier, the Lions had endured a four-overtime marathon to beat Ben Lippen.
The Highlanders had first possession in overtime and kicker Cole Fowble put Heathwood in front with a 20-yard field goal. On the Lions' possession, Banks rolled left to pass on third down, changed his mind and sprinted to his right for the score.
"I was just thinking, 'Hold my guy,'" Lions running back Cole Turner said. "I turned around and saw him. That was crazy."
The Lions' win, coupled with Ben Lippen's upset of defending state champion Hammond, left 2-0 Augusta Christian atop SCISA AAA-I standings.
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