Augusta is coming off a season that was long, drawn out and painful. The Orioles went 0-9 last year, but have hope for 2012, as more than half of the 2011 team starters are back on the roster.
Coach: Roger Robben (0-9 overall,0-5 AVCTL DIV. II in one season)
2011 Recap: Augusta had a rough go of it in Robben’s first year at the helm as it dropped every game last season.
2012 District: Rose Hill, Wichita Collegiate, Wichita Trinity
Returning Starters: 9 Offense, 6 Defense
Key Returning Players: Tristan Finch (QB), Colby Willis (OL/DL), Roy Chen (OL/DL), Jake Ehrlich (OL/DL), Brett Hamilton (LB).
Returning Lettermen: 13
Augusta will return almost its entire offensive roster from 2011, which can only mean good things for the Orioles. Nine returning starters from 2011, including several on the offensive line means Augusta is on the up and up for 2012.
Its offensive line could be a huge advantage for Augusta in 2012, as it has some physically thick guys on the line that will provide protection for returning quarterback Finch. Running back Anthony Castillo will return as the main back for the Orioles this year. Also, 6’2” wide receiver Anthony Castillo will provide a huge target for Finch.
With the combination of experienced wideouts and a solid backfield of Castillo, Connor Hurst and Preston Patterson, Augusta could have an extremely balanced offense if it so chooses. However, often times it is not a balanced offense that is best in high school football, so it will be interesting to see how these players will be utilized in 2012.
In 2011, Augusta passing averaged 13.2 yards per completion, so if Finch can equal or better that performance, the Orioles may have found their swan song. Especially in AVCTL Div. IV, where teams’ pass defense isn’t the best. However, for a pass game to be effective, the team needs to have a solid run game. So if Augusta’s run game can step up in 2012, Augusta could take steps in the right direction.
Augusta will have to learn to stop the run if it is going to experience any kind of success in 2012. With more than half of its defense returning from 2011, the experience the Orioles have could prove to be invaluable to its defense.
Players like lineman Chen, Willis and Ehrlich gained much playing time in 2011, alongside juniors Kaleb Laubhan and Greg Slaton. If Laubhaun and Slaton both decide to play their senior seasons, the two could be three-year lettermen and staples in building a solid defense in Augusta. Linebacker Brett Hamilton will be an anchor on the defensive side, much like he was last year.
Augusta’s defense will be young, as sophomores Connor Hurst, Chase Hull and Tyler Hammond will all get playing time with Finch and Hamilton in the secondary.
ODDS AND ENDS:
Augusta didn’t win a game last season, but its closest contest was a 17-15 loss to Circle. The Orioles will face Circle in its season opener for probably its best shot at a win in 2012.
After the Thunderbirds, Augusta will face Mulvane, Wellington, Clearwater and Andale. That stretch of four games will be a huge test for Augusta, as all those teams have real, legitimate chances to make the state tournament.
Augusta’s district doesn’t give the squad much of a reprieve, either. Defending state champion Rose Hill, Wichita Trinity and Wichita Collegiate are all slated to take on the Orioles.
However, Augusta has a ton of returning players with more than a little bit of experience. If this team can work hard, listen to their coaches and come together, who knows what this team can accomplish.