The popularity of football at Augusta Prep has grown faster than even head coach Harry Bacheller could have expected.
After the middle school squad's debut last season, Bacheller said he got rave reviews.
"Our kids got better and better each game. They improved so much that the whole high school got excited about it," he said. "All of a sudden, they wanted to do a high school team."
Thus, the program that was supposed to expand only to a ninth-grade team instead became a junior varsity squad.
"I bought into it, and the high school's done everything I asked," Bacheller said.
Though excitement and community support help to get a team going, experience is helpful, too. That's something the Cavaliers lack.
Only three of the 25 players on the roster have played a down of football in their life. Those three -- Nolan Brandon, Nate Pylant and Charley Hagist -- had not played before last year's middle school season.
Bacheller sad the experience those three gained -- and spread the word about -- attracted seven other ninth-graders to the team this season.
Augusta Prep participated in Augusta Christian's annual jamboree scrimmage last Thursday. The players' inexperience was apparent, Bacheller said, at least in their body language.
"We've got a lot of wide eyes out there," he said. "We want to get that out of the way, especially for the few seniors. ... For them, there's some urgency here. They've got to grow up real quick."
It didn't take long for the Cavaliers to break through. On the offense's second play from scrimmage, Pylant threw a sideline pass to John Paul Lynn, who slipped a defender and sprinted toward the end zone for a 65-yard touchdown.
"We've got a couple of playmakers that, if they're crowding the line, we can hit them up with some one-on-one," Bacheller said.
While the middle school will play seven or eight games, the JV squad has five games scheduled, but could add a sixth. The JV's home games will be 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2 against Edmund Burke and 3 p.m. Oct. 9 against Rabun Gap.
Bacheller said part of the key to expanding the program so quickly has been the hard work of the coaching staff.
"We have coaches coaching two teams. They're making it work somehow," Bacheller said. "They've been very committed and tremendous."
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