Augusta Christian football coach Keith Walton talked in hushed tones and kept his back turned to senior Evan Wells following practice the day before the Lions game last week.
Walton did not want his receiver to know what was planned for the following night at homecoming. And Wells was in the dark until the announcement was made Friday.
As he walked off the field after the captains' meeting before the game with Wilson Hall, Wells was stopped and redirected to midfield. The Lions receiver was honored for tying the school's all-time receptions record. He entered Friday's game with 86 catches.
But Wells didn't know it. Neither did his friends and family.
Walton kept his secret well.
"He's a great leader -- does what he's supposed to do. He's where he's supposed to be at," Walton said. "He's a good person for the team, somebody to be, 'I'm going to follow his lead.' I couldn't ask for nothing better."
Wells grabbed the record during the second quarter Friday, on a 3-yard reception to Wilson Hall's 30-yard line. An announcement was made over the public address system, and Wells received a few pats on the helmet on his way back to the huddle.
Wells would finish with three catches, pushing his career total to 89. Walton believes his senior will have at least 100 by season's end.
Wells, speaking before he knew of the record, said he tried not to aim for certain numbers during the season. He knows situations can change.
Last season, Lions starting quarterback Jackson Whitley was injured and William Banks, a natural runner, played the rest of the season at quarterback. Wells had to reassess his goals.
He briefly flirted with the quarterback position before the season started, before it became obvious the Lions offense was better with him at receiver.
"I'm glad that I'm playing wide receiver," Wells said. "But I never really set personal goals for myself as far as, 'I want to catch this many balls.' You never know."
Wells committed himself to the receiver position the year he played organized football for the first time as an Augusta Christian freshman. In the years since, he has seen a number of quality athletes -- the likes of Tyler Bourdo and Banks -- lead the Lions' offense.
The leadership role was left open this season and Wells has spent the first half of the season trying to prove to coaches and teammates that the role is his.
Part of that responsibility is helping bring along freshman quarterback Tyler Roberson.
Wells and Roberson spend time before and after each practice working on their timing. Walton said Wells' work ethic has rubbed off on the young quarterback.
"If (Wells) couldn't do it, (Roberson) likes to go get somebody else and say, 'Come out here, let's get some extra work done,' " Walton said. "As far as he knows, that's what you're supposed to do. That's not because of something I said. That's something he learned."
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