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Andrew Jackson High School
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AJA Athletic Director Jason Peek Says School Growth Positive Reflection Of Success In Athletics

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Ehrhardt—The big announcement in mid-April that Allen Sitterlee would return to head coach the Andrew Jackson Academy Confederates football team for the 2018 season was certainly the best coaching news this rural community could have hoped for.

After-all it was Coach Sitterle who started the 37 game win streak at the start of his second season at AJA in 2015 after capturing 8 wins in 2014 against three losses. The top ranked AJA 8-man team will be seeking their fourth state title this year.

“I think we are blessed to have someone of Coach Sitterle’s ability and knowledge of the game coaching at a small school like ours,” said AJA athletic director Jason Peek. “He has played and coached the game at all levels ad we are fortunate to have him as our head football coach at AJA.

“He relates to his players like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Coach Peek. “He is a mentor to our players and he relishes the role of mentoring and this even comes across when he is teaching in the class room. We are delighted to have him back this season. He is the one that got things turned around four years ago. We have no doubt that we will have continued success now that he is back heading up our football program.”

Coach Peek said that there can’t be many high school coaches in the state with more teaching knowledge of the offensive line than Coach Sitterle. “By far his knowledge of teaching fundamental skills to offensive linemen is the heart of his coaching strength as it should be since he was an outstanding college lineman (N.C. State),” said Coach Peek. “He knows, and everyone knows that having a superior offensive line is the key to having a successful football team.”

Coach Sitterle will have a solid group of assistants this season. Coach Peek and Joseph Stanfield will team up to coach the receivers and defensive backs along with Zach Boltin. Sitterle will focus on coaching the entire defense as well as the offensive line.

The video duties will be handled once again by super volunteer and long time supporter Gene Sease and the public address announcer at home football games will continue to be Steve Duncan.

“I think our school is growing by around 40 students this year because of the great leadership of our Head of School Jamie Barnes,” said Coach Peek. “Jamie is a hard worker and he loves Andrew Jackson Academy and he wants what is best for our children in academics and athletics, and just through word of mouth we have had a lot of students transfer to our school.

“Of course our winning football team has created a lot of excitement and interest throughout the community as well and that always helps promote the school all over the region,” said Coach Peek. “We have 27 players on the varsity football team this season and I can’t remember having that many in a long time.”

Another promoter of growth was AJA’s restarting a varsity baseball program last year. “Our head baseball coach is Jon Schaffer and he is real passionate about the game and we have a good restart of the team this year and that has helped us gain a few new students as well,” said Coach Peek. “We won as many games this past baseball season as we have in a long time. We are already looking forward to the season starting because we know the program is headed in the right direction.”

Coach Peek himself is the head softball varsity coach and his team joined a late season surge which included a 10-0 win over rival Jefferson Davis Academy. “We have a good many of our softball players returning and we have had a transfer or two which should also help up improve even more,” said Coach Peek.

The boy’s varsity program will once again be headed up by Josh Barnes with Mike Hall serving as the assistant. Julie Sease will move up from head jayvee girl’s basketball coach to take over the varsity program. Head of School Jamie Barnes will head coach the boy’s junior varsity basketball team once again.

Coach Jon Schaffer will begin his second season as the head baseball coach and he will be assisted by Scott Brunson.

“We have begun talking about the possibility of starting up a sporting clays team in the near future,” said Coach Peek. “This is something that we have just now started talking about.”

Coach Peek said that growth and increased enrollment does bring challenges. “Any time you grow you need more teachers and you need more coaches so as a small rural school we are always fund raising and looking for ways to pay for this growth,” said Coach Peek. “We certainly would rather be growing over losing students. We like where we are and we like the upward direction we are headed in also.”

 

Sitterle Anxious To Hear The Pads Popping At AJA In late July

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

EhrhardtAndrew Jackson Academy head football coach Allen Sitterlee comes into the 2018 season with a career record of 323-99 including state titles at several different high schools in a storied coaching career nearing 40 seasons.

“I got a kick out of someone researching my career coaching record over the summer and telling me that my next loss would mean 100 losses in my career, and that kind of got my attention, and it was something I wasn’t even thinking about until they pointed it out,” said Coach Sitterlee, who hates to lose at anything he does. “I think an important thing now is not to lose a game this season because that will be 100 losses so you could say I have a reason not to lose this season.”

Coach Sitterle agreed to return to the AJA program in mid-April after taking a year off last season. “I felt like with great players like Bailey Ackerman and Jordan Lee last season the team would have a great season and I am happy they kept the win streak going and that they won another state championship,” said Coach Sitterle. “We had a few work-outs in the spring but I am going to reserve talking about this upcoming team very much until we put on the pads and start hitting each other.

“I know that we have 27 players on the roster and that many of them are new, and they look like they have potential, but until you start hitting and breaking it all down in your early season contact drills you truly do not know what type team you have,” said Coach Sitterle. “I know some of the players because I coached them two and three years ago but as far as the newer players, and some of the transfers, I am going to withhold my opinions, and even a few of their names, until practice actually starts. By August, 1st we will have a roster available complete with heights and weights.”

Some of the players returning who will have key roles is senior Banks Wallace who can play center, nose guard or defensive end. Wallace will be a three year starter this season. Trey Pulaski will take over for HSSR Div. II 8-man Player of the Year Bailey Ackerman who is headed to Brevard College to play. Pulaski is a hard nosed runner who had several 100 yard plus game last year.

Coach Sitterle said he expects some spirited competition at the quarterback position being contested by two year starter Colyn Peek who has been a good field general and transfer quarterback candidate Calin “Bug” Brunson. Brunson can play multiple positions as well. Other solid returnees that Coach Sitterle has coached in the past include junior running back/receiver/defensive back Drake Mathias, two way lineman Nick Faile who Sitterle say is hard nosed and very coachable along with Bryce Waltz who can play tight end or linebacker. Coach Sitterle also mentioned sophomore Holden George as a big kid with the potential to contribute at nose guard on defense.

Johnathan Schaffer (6-1, 200) and Connor Gleaton (6-4, 200) are two talented players just coming off injuries and surgeries. “Connor might be out a while longer and we will just have to wait and see, but he is a talented player who can help us when he is able to get back on the field,” said Coach Sitterle. “The Schaffer kid is big and fast and he can help us at numerous positions and you never know where a kid might end up until you get on the pads but he is a young man who can help us for sure.”

Kevin Barnes returns for his sophomore season and he is likely to see action at offensive guard on offense and defensive end on defense. While the HSSR has not confirmed several potential transfers to AJA this season we have confirmed the move of Brice Hughes from Bamberg-Ehrhardt and he will help give AJA depth at fullback and linebacker.

“Our goal is to compete for state championships and play hard physical team oriented football,” said Coach Sitterle. “Like I said, until we put on the pads and start hitting you just never know which players are going to stick it out, and which players are going to emerge as leaders and starters. When I first took over the program we had 12 players one year and 14 the next so to have 27 on the roster right now is encouraging.

“My goal is to take the program to 11 man status and hopefully that is the direction we are headed in,” said Coach Sitterle. “Hopefully, this will happen at the next realignment.”

AJA will open the season at home against W.W. King on August, 24th. Coach Sitterle said his team will have a scrimmage against Wardlaw Academy and also compete in a jamboree hosted by Jefferson Davis Academy before the season begins.

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