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Experiential Learning: Ackerman Shares Thoughts On His High School Football Career

By Bailey Ackerman

Ehrhardt-- When I was in the ninth grade I started playing varsity football at Andrew Jackson Academy.

The first change that I went through was that it was my first year playing a varsity sport. It was not the same as Junior Varsity and I was in for a whole new experience. The second change was the new head coach, Mr. Allen Sitterle. He was an All American for North Carolina State. He was later drafted to play professional football for the Pittsburg Steelers.

Coach Sitterle lit a fire under the Andrew Jackson Academy football team and we began to play like we had never played before. He pushed us hard and we began to win. We won the first game and lost the next two. Previous football teams from Andrew Jackson Academy were never able to accomplish a winning season or even have a winning streak until we were pushed to our limits by Coach Sitterle.

Thirdly, all of these changes were good and we embraced them fervently. As the season went on the wins began to add up and we had our first 10 game winning streak. Our team was unbeatable and we all felt that this was the season we would go all the way to the state championship. As we made it into the playoffs, we were determined to win. Andrew Jackson Academy’s team won the first playoff game and made it to the second round.

The next playoff game was at Richard Winn Academy and we knew we had it in the bag. As the game started, we realized this would not be a blow out like our previous games. The game began neck and neck. Our whole community had made the two-hour ride to support us. In our tiny community there is only two seasons; football season and waiting for football season. In other words, it was a big deal that our little school had made it this far. The game was a continuous battle with Andrew Jackson scoring few touchdowns.

This was yet another change but unlike the previous change this was something un-welcomed. We fought on relentlessly through four quarters and we were still down by 30 points. Andrew Jackson Academy was losing! This was the moment of reality for our team! We lost that night and we as a team were totally devastated. Andrew Jackson Academy’s team had not had a loss this bad all season and now we had drug our whole community out to see us lose! However, our community never stopped believing in us, even though we did not make it to state that year. I learned that through perseverance and determination

I would continue to do my best and was confident that we would win again. Over the next few years we would win three state championships, a winning streak of 38 games which has made Andrew Jackson become ranked 11th in the country in current winning streaks. Experiential Learning opens your mind to put aside emotional reactions and move on to higher levels of thinking.

 

 

Andrew Jackson Boy’s Basketball “Teaming Their Way To Success” In 2017-18 Season

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Ehrhardt—When basketball teams play with unity, and when a team plays for the good of each other without selfishness and regard to who might be the high scorer in any particular game, you truly have a chance to be an outstanding team.

Such is the case with the Andrew Jackson Academy boy’s basketball team seven games into the 2017-18 season. The Confederates are 5-2 and head coach Josh Barnes considers all 8 of his players as co-starters. Some games he might go with an all guard starting five for quickness and advantages in the transition game, while in other game he might choose to go big with three guards and two post players led by 6-9 senior Grayson Carter.

Last season AJA finished 17-10 and advanced to the SCISA Class A basketball playoffs.

“I have never had a team where all 8 of the players on my roster were averaging between 7 and 13 points a game,” said Coach Barnes. “One night 8th grader Johnathan Schaffer is getting 23 points to win a game and the next game sophomore Chandler Hayden is getting 22 points for us to help us beat Holly Hill Academy. We have a team where the players are very unselfish and we are playing very well as a team right now.

“Honesty, my goals and expectations for this team is that we play hard, cut down on the turnovers, and just get better each game,” said Coach Barnes. “I am not going to put any pressure on this team by stating we hope to win the region and do well in the state playoffs. We can be a force in SCISA Class A basketball if we reduce our turnovers and keep playing well as a team.”

To date AJA has defeated Colleton Prep, 57-26 in the season opener on November, 21st and later they beat CP again 69-39 for two of their five wins. They lost to Calhoun Academy, 59-56 in over-time and then defeated Thomas Heyward 73-64. The team’s second lost came to Thomas Heyward a week later 68-52. Their other two wins have come over Calhoun Academy on December, 6th with a thrilling 77-74 win in over-time and then they won over Holly Hill Academy 55-52 on December, 11th. AJA is 4-0 at home and 1-2 on the road.

“A real difference in this year’s team versus last years team is how much better we are playing early, right after the football team won a state championship,” said Coach Barnes. “I have to tip my hat to football Coach Willie Craven because all the guys who played football came to the basketball team in great shape ready to do sprints without any issues. Coach Craven really has the football players in great shape. I have ever seen them this well conditioned coming into another season.

“Last year I felt like we lost some early season games to teams we were better then but we were not in basketball shape and some of our football players took a while to get up to speed,” said Coach Barnes. “This is not the case this season.”

When AJA starts an all-guard team Hayden runs the point and he shares time with sophomore Colyn Peek. Hayden shot an eye popping 71 per cent from the floor when he scored 23 points in the win over Holly Hill Academy. Hayden is currently averaging 13.1 points and 5.1 rebounds a game. Hayden is a next level prospect for some college team. Peek is scoring 6.1 points and getting 4.3 rebounds a game.

Junior shooting guard Banks Wallace is averaging 11 points a game along with 8.3 rebounds a game. Senior Jordan Lee plays a small forward and he is averaging 7.2 points a game and leads the team in rebounding at 9 per game. Lee was an all-region performer last season.

The two centers are the 6-9 Carter who is averaging 5 points and 5.6 rebounds a game along with senior Bailey Ackerman (5-11, 230) who is averaging 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds a game. Carter and Ackerman do a good job protecting the basket on defense.

Austin Jones is another versatile senior shooting guard who is averaging 9.4 points and five rebounds a game. Schaffer is mainly a small forward but he can play anywhere on the floor as needed. He is averaging 8.6 points an outing plus 3.9 rebounds.

One outstanding junior was lost to hip surgery after the football season in talented Conner Gleaton (6-4, 175) and he will miss the entire season after having an all-state sophomore season. “We are missing Connor this season and he has a bright future as a basketball player,” said Coach Barnes. “We are hoping he is well enough to play some AAU summer ball by early June and we expect him to return for his senior season better than ever,”

AJA will play a key region game at Clarendon Hall on December, 15th. “Clarendon Hall is probably the team to beat in our region so it is important for us to cut down on our turnovers and keep playing well as a team,” said Coach Barnes. “Then the following Tuesday (Dec., 19) we play at our rival Jefferson Davis before playing at Orangeburg Prep on their brand new gym floor on Wednesday.”

On Thursday December, 21st the Confederates play in a four team holiday tournament started out playing host John Paul II.

“We are competing against a lot of bigger schools and holding our own so hopefully this will prepare us for some tough region games down the stretch in January,” said Coach Barnes. “It is amazing what a group of boys can accomplish when they don’t care who gets the credit.”

Coach Barnes is assisted by Mark Loadholt and Jerrod Nimmons.

 

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