Piedmont Academy football rolls into second round
Like hundreds of other student-athletes in the area, 29 high school football players at Piedmont Academy began their season by enduring 100+ degree temperatures with 100 percent humidity during their summer practices as they became physically and mentally prepared for their upcoming schedule. Like any athlete, hopes of a successful season gave them the strength and endurance to battle the conditions, bumps, and bruises that go along with any sport. The effort of everyone involved paid off for Piedmont Academy in an undefeated, magical season as they enter the semi-finals for a state championship.
The Cougars are led by veteran coach Rhett Farmer. Coach Farmer is no stranger to winning GISA state championships. Being a part of one of the most successful Georgia Independent School Associations football programs, Tattnall Square Academy in Macon, Coach Farmer worked with head coach, Barney Hester, for 10 years earning five state championship trophies and rings prior to joining Piedmont Academy two years ago. He brought confidence, skill, and unity to a team full of raw tal- ent. Winning programs do not happen overnight and Coach Farmer, along with his staff, have taught this group of young men that it takes time, dedication and hard work on everyone’s part. These athletes have learned the true meaning of teamwork and have stayed focused on one game at a time. He emphasizes this fact at every practice.
Coach Farmer’s staff includes four alumni football players: Bubba Nelson, Keith Mason, Joel Sauls and Walt Nelson. Wes Tanner, Josh Daher and JC Dunagan are also members of the staff who have helped lead the team to an undefeated season. Offensively, to date, the team has scored a total of 532 points and had 187 points scored against their defense brining them to an 11-0 season and breaking a school record of scoring 63 points during a single ball- game.
Members of the offensive squad include quarterbacks Alex Hall, Zach Benjamin and Mills Smith; running backs Blake Hammock, Peter Lawson, Malik Reid and Dakota Collins; wide receivers Britton Bailey, Dylan Collins, Rhett Roberts, Michael Berg, Nick Dimsdale, Patrick Berg, Glade Tuggle, Tyler Cullum, Josh Bren-
nan and kicker/receiver Sam Cleary. Offensive linemen include Seth Harvey, Willy Roberts, Carl GonsalvesBarreiro, Garrett Richardson, Evan Harvey, James Marks, Daniel Leinweber, Jakey Dunagan, Austin Corley, Justin Wilson, Mac Brittain and Zach Whitwell.
Standout starting quarterback Alex Hall has thrown 500 yards this season. The impressive backfield is led by Blake Hammock (1,700 yards rushing with 153 carries), Peter Lawson (700 yards on 52 carries) and Dakota Collins (578 yards with 65 carries). The key to their success has been the power of their offensive line having an average weight of 255 pounds and collecting an average of 48 points per game.
In a program like Piedmont, it is not unusual for offensive teammates to play both ways. The majority of the first-string offensive team plays on defense, as well. The Cougars have had an impressive defensive season by a team total of 15 interceptions, with five of the fifteen being returned for a touchdown. The front seven players have been stellar against defending the run. The defense has held their opponents to an average of 17 points per game.
The success to their program is a network of students and supporters. Managers for the team are Nina Blackshear, Angelia Brown, Mary Ashlynn Dennis, Dallas Fletcher, Andie Lewis, Katie Odegaard, Samantha Ramsdell, Lucy Strickland, and ball boy Mack Brady. Varsity cheerleaders include captain Morgan Brooks, co-captain Leigh Hicks, co-captain Briana Bailey, Lacy Adamson, Amy Anuszczyk, Katie Brennan, Audrey Cleary, Halley Hedrick, Jordan Hicks, Clare Maloney, Amberly Moseley, Kalie Perkins, Brittnee Phillips, Caitlin Tillman, Ashley Young, and Shianne Witcher. Cheerleaders are coached by alumni and faculty member, Elizabeth Davis.
Behind the scenes of the football program is athletic director Danny Camp and the school’s booster club. President Brent Galloway, vice-president Scott Brady, secretary Jacki Tyler and treasurer Betty Jean Jordan. These adults and many others lead the school by taking the necessary steps to make sure the school’s team is ready for the next game. From stocking the concession stand and finding concession workers for home games, preparing the football field, securing gate workers, lining up the chain crew, arranging the soloist to sing the national anthem and a minister to give the invocation, organizing transportation, preparing a pre-game meal for the team, publishing the football program, cleaning up the stadium, and anything else it takes to play football on a Friday night. Of course, the atmosphere would not be complete without the many fans wearing their blue and white cheering the squads on to another victory. Alumnus sports writer Chris Bridges summarizes the game each week for the local newspaper and school website.
In school history, Pied- mont has had six undefeated regular seasons (’73, ’81, ’82, ’87, ’88, ’10) and played for the state championship title four times (’73, ’81, ’87, ’88). The Cougars have been region champions fourteen times (’73, ’77, ’81, ’82, ’87, ’88, ’92, ’93, ’01, ’02, ’06, ’08, ’09, ’10). They have fallen short each statetitle game but the team aspires to make the 2010 title a reality by continuing their success this week to play in the final game on November 27. The school will host Valwood from Hahira this Friday at home for the semi-final game. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Cougar Field.
Piedmont, a college-preparatory academy, is located in Monticello and was founded in 1970. Nothing would be better than a state championship title for the school’s 40th anniversary year. Whatever the outcome, it has been a great ride. Their goal — finish the drill and fight to the finish. PRIDE!
Proud group of seniors: Front row: Carl Gonsalves-Barreiro, Dylan Collins, coach Rhett Farmer, Alex Hall, Michael Berg, coach Wes Tanner, Blake Hammock. Back row: Willy Roberts, Garrett Richardson, Coach Keith Mason, Sam Cleary, Dakota Collins, Rhett Roberts, Coach Joel Sauls, Coach Bubba Nelson