Pied­mont Academy foot­ball rolls into sec­ond round

The Covington News - - Sports - Staff Re­ports

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

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