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Andrew Jackson Academy Softball Team Finishes Season Strong

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Ehrhardt—The Andrew Jackson Academy softball team (4-8) finished strong after staring out the season with numerous losses, and head coach Jason Peek is proud of the fact his young team pulled out four quality wins at the end of the season.

“We best Jefferson Davis 10-0 coming out of Spring break and we also beat Holly Hill Academy for the time in memory 7-0 so those two shut-outs gave us some confidence near the end of the season,” said Coach Peek. “We have a young team and we are looking forward to next season already.”

The team was led in hitting by third baseman Skylar Carter who batted .419 and 8th grade catcher Avery Peek came in at .359 along with junior center fielder Neely Hackney who hit .355.

One big lift to the team was the emergence of 8th grade rising pitching star Hannah Scharber. “She’s an effective pitcher with a bright future,” said Coach Peek.

A couple other contributors on the team include junior shortstop Morgan Walling and center fielder Elizabeth Hadwin.

 

 

Sitterle Returns To Coaching Football At Andrew Jackson Academy

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Ehrhardt—After a year break from the sidelines of high school football veteran coach Allen Sitterle returns to head coach the Andrew Jackson Academy team, proud owners of the state’s current longest win steak at 39 coming into the 2018 season.

“We are indeed pleased to have Coach Allen Sitterle return as our head football coach for the upcoming season,” said AJA Head of School Jamie Barnes. “He has a good rapport with the players and does a great job teaching the fundamentals of the game. He instills a great work ethic in all of hi s players and teaches the game with integrity and a sense of purpose.

“Coach Sitterle is also a great teacher in the class room and we are proud to have him teaching three honors classes in math this fall,” said Barnes. “He teaches life lessons to our students whether they are in the class room or on the football field. Coach Sitterle is a proven winner, and a championship coach, and we are very pleased to have him back at Andrew Jackson Academy.”

Coach Sitterle has welcomed a record 20 varsity candidates to spring drills at AJA. The school currently has 39 boys in grades 9 through 12 and Mr. Barnes said the school asked SCISA about the possibility of moving up to 11 man football this season.

“Mike Fanning, at the SCISA office, told us schedules had already been set for this upcoming year so we were too late for this two year realignment period,” said Barnes. “We are experiencing a lot of growth at our school. We had around 200 students at the school this year and already we are looking at around 225 who have signed up for the upcoming year.”

Mr. Barnes did indicate that SCISA is considering having only one division for 8-man football this season, instead of the two divisions it had last year. Andrew Jackson Academy will move up to Division I if things stay the same. This puts AJA and Wardlaw Academy in the same region and both teams won state titles and were undefeated last season. As of May, 9 SCISA had not released 8-man schedules for the upcoming school year.

“Right now I am just get familiar with the team and some positions could change but it has been fun getting back into the game,” said Coach Sitterle. “We are doing a lot of conditioning and drills. You are only allowed to have two days of contact anyway and we rarely go live much at all in the spring.

Coach Sitterle said his team will once again employ an option offense. “Over the years I have always adjusted my offense to the personnel available to run it,” said Coach Sitterle. “I always get asked about why I don’t throw the ball more. Well, what would people think if we were throwing the ball with a 40 point lead at the half? We will make adjustments from time to time but it will depend on the athletes and their skills we have in the program at the time.”

Coach Sitterle said finding replacement for HSSR Div. II Player of the Year Bailey Ackerman who rushed for over 1,900 yards and scored 25 touchdowns last year would be a challenge. Ackerman will play college football at Brevard College in North Carolina this season. The other senior on last year’s team is headed to play at North Greenville in OL and LB Jordan Lee.

“What you have to understand about 8-man is when you lose two great players like Bailey and Jordan that you are actually losing four players because they were good on both sides of the football,: said Coach Sitterle. “Finding two players to step up like them will be a key to our success this season.”

Two players with talent and great potential are currently missing spring drills due to injuries. Conner Gleaton is a 6-4 tight end/defensive back who had hip surgery after basketball season and he is expected back by August. “Conner is a big target on offense and he blocks well also,” said Coach Sitterle. “He is also very good on defense and he led the team in interceptions last season.”

The other injured player is rising freshman Jonathan Schaffer who made the HSSR All-rookie team. He caught the winning touchdown pass in the final minute of the title game against Jefferson Davis Academy last year. Schaffer hurt his knee during a pick-up basketball game in the gym during baseball season. “I have not had a chance to see Jonathan on a football field yet but I here he is a versatile player,” said Coach Sitterle. “He could have a role for us on both sides of the ball once he gets healthy and is cleared to play.”

Coach Sitterle said he is still getting familiar with some of the up and coming players on the team. He remembers current players like rising junior Trey Pulaski who will return as a running back and linebacker on defense. Rising senior and two way linemen Nick Fail will help anchor both sides of the line. “Banks Wallace will be our scrappy center this season and he is a solid player who will also play in the defensive line also,” said Coach Sitterle.

Wallace is the AJA layer who ripped the ball out of the hands of a Jefferson Davis ball carrier late in the fourth quarter of the state finals that set up Colyn Peek’s 28 yard touchdown pass to Schaffer two plays later. The late score sent the AJA fans into bedlam mood on the field at Calhoun Academy.

“It’s good to have Peek back at quarterback because he knows the system so well,” said Coach Sitterle.

Some other rising juniors participating in Spring drills include linebackers Drake Mathias and Bryce Waltz. Several rising sophomores hoping to make an impact on the team include two way lineman Kevin Barnes, lineman Brian Carter, lineman Barrett Rentz, defensive lineman Holden George, along with linemen Kade Grantham and Kolby Kitrell. Carter Rivers is also an 8th grade lineman working out with the varsity right now.

“We have a lot of tall and big offensive linemen to work with and you are always pleased to have some depth in both sides of your line,” said Coach Sitterle. “We are focused at working hard and being in good shape I am looking forward to getting back on the sidelines.”

Coach Sitterle will be assisted by athletic director Jason Peek and former quarterback Joseph Stanfield.

 

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