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Westside’s Homecoming Provides Chance to Build Momentum

Sporting a 3-3 overall record and a 2-1 region mark, Westside will enter Friday’s homecoming game against Butler (2-3, 0-3) with a golden opportunity.

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Sporting a 3-3 overall record and a 2-1 region mark, Westside will enter Friday’s homecoming game against Butler (2-3, 0-3) with a golden opportunity to get one win closer to achieving two things the program hasn’t in many years:

  1. A winning record for the season, which would be the program’s first since 2013
  2. A state playoff birth (which goes to the the region’s top 4 teams), something the Patriots haven’t attained since 2014

But such accomplishments must be earned, starting with Friday’s matchup against Butler, who topped Westside 6-3 last season in a pivotal region game also played at Carlton Thompson Field on Patriots Way.

Treyvon Grandison (Nose Guard) – Westside

A Dominant Defense

Up to the task will be Westside’s defense, a unit that established itself as a force early last season by giving up an average of 5 points per game through the first 8 contests. Returning and continuing to make progress this season is a secondary packed with playmakers, including the safety tandem of brothers CJ (a senior) and Kaleb Hutchinson (a junior), who have each hauled in two interceptions already, and cornerbacks Robert Pulliam and Tyler Evans, both seniors.

Kaleb Hutchinson (DB/WR) – Westside

Second year head coach Jon Wiley said Tuesday in an email interview that his defensive backs are “fun to watch,” and he credits assistant coach Chris Crayton, a former Westside star who played defensive back at the Division I and professional level, for helping the unit, saying Crayton “does an excellent job getting them prepared each week.”

Both Wiley and Crayton believe Kaleb Hutchinson, at 6-1 and 180 pounds, has the potential to be a division 1 player. Here’s Hutchinson intercepting a pass in a game against Laney last season:

Another high impact returnee is junior Treyvon Grandison, a 6-1 and 305 pound nose guard who earned all region honors as a sophomore last year. Coach Wiley thinks Grandison is the best defensive lineman in the area. Watch Grandison as a sophomore as he bullies his way into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss in a game against Richmond last season:

Wiley also has good things to say about Grandison’s fellow lineman, senior Bo Alford (6-0 and 265). He noted Alford’s strength and his ability to play anywhere on the line. Alford leads the team in tackles for loss, sacks and pressures.

Bo Alford (DL) – Westside

Wiley continued with praise for “speedy pass rushers” Rakeem Blount and Charles Dawson, both juniors who measure 6-1 and 240 pounds. Also noted were contributions from linebackers Damarien Lee (2nd on the team in tackles), Dion Wright (14 tackles in Westside’s most recent game), Hannibal Simmons, Sean Taylor, Damontae Coleman, and Jack Wise, who also took over at quarterback in week 2 after the original starter TJ Price was injured.

Westside’s Improving Offense

Wiley sees reason for optimism when it comes to the offense, which struggled during last season’s 3-7 campaign. The ground game has improved dramatically as lead back Xzavier Green, a junior, has piled up 774 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns through 6 games while running behind a beefy offensive line that averages 280 pounds per man. That front is led by Javon Nathan (6-3, 295), Jordan Grissett (6-4, 310) and Treveon Few (6-1, 285), all of whom are juniors. The unit has helped the Patriots pile up 18 total rushing touchdowns for the season.

Treveon Few (OL) – Westside

Westside’s passing game has also shown flashes despite early injury problems. Price, who spent time under center last season as a sophomore, threw for 297 yards in the first 5 quarters of action this season before Wise, a baseball star who is playing QB for the first time, was thrust into action. Wiley praised both signal callers, and he looks forward to having the option to use them both at some point during the season. Targets on the outside include Robert Pulliam, Kaleb Hutchinson, Jermichel Ambrose and Cameron Collins.

Robert Pulliam (WR/CB) – Westside

A Special Teams Bonus

Westside also received a boost in its special teams efforts, as Wiley explained in detail:

“We struggled in the first 3 games on special teams. Replacing an all state kicker like Maddox Hankinson is extremely difficult,” said Wiley. “Luckily a young man named Sean Metcalf walked into my office and asked if he could try a few extra points. First day he came out he hit from 50. We were all in shock. I’m normally pretty keen on getting reps in practice, but at one point I think the entire team stopped to watch him. It was cool moment. He drilled his first FG attempt from 41 yards and has taken over kick off duty. His father is from across the pond and still refers to the game as American Football, which I get a kick out of. Sean is a good athlete and has great work ethic. We were fortunate Coach John Newton allowed him to come kick in addition to his work on the Cross Country team. He also plays cricket and has a 4.0. He’s only a sophomore. He just started working with Westside legend Obi Egekesi (former place kicker for the University of Maryland). I’m certain that if he continues at this pace he’ll be D1.”

Friday’s Coverage Schedule

Highlights and updates from Westside’s homecoming game against Butler will be shared on the @AugBball timeline on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Also featured on the timelines will be another class 2A, region 4 matchup between Laney (2-3, 2-1) and Josey (1-3, 0-2). Get familiar with Laney, who will host Westside the following week, by reading the “Snapshot” taken of the Wildcats that I wrote few days back.

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[Livestream] Grovetown vs Evans in Region Battle for Playoff Position

Evans hosts Grovetown and looks to avenge their buzzer beater loss to the Warriors on January 22nd.

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“Sophomore Malik Ferguson picked up a loose ball in the middle of the paint with one second remaining, and right before the fourth quarter buzzer sounded, he released a shot that found its mark to give Grovetown 61-60 win over Evans Friday, a result that threw the top spot in the class 6A, region 5 standings into a three way tie between Grovetown, Evans and Heritage to mark the beginning of the stretch run for the league’s regular season championship. Ferguson’s shot came at the end of a full court dash by Grovetown after head coach Darren Douglas was able to draw up a play during a timeout that was meant to result in a bucket in only six seconds. The play was designed for senior Zach Bell, who eventually fumbled the ball after spinning between defenders at the end of a drive that began near half court after he gathered the ball from freshman Derrion Reid.”

That was Chad Cook’s rundown of the instant classic that these two teams played two weeks ago. That win by Grovetown sets up a must-win scenario for Evans as they look to maintain their footing in the race for a region championship.

Be sure to get your ? ready early because if tonight’s game is as exciting as the last one, you just might forget those jokers altogether!

Streams will be posted here. Tip-off times are as follows:
Girls – 6:30 PM
Boys – 8:00 PM

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Culture

Former Basketball Stars Lead the Way in Business, Community Service, and Artistic Pursuits

Harold Doby, Reggie Middleton and Roman Hill have turned a brand into a business, a lifestyle and a mental framework for impacting their community.

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Reggie Middleton (left) and Harold Doby (right)

On January 4th, the day after Harold Doby’s “Books and Life Lessons” (B.A.L.L.) charitable organization conducted a coat drive to help keep warm some of the most vulnerable people in the downtown area, I spoke with Doby and Reggie Middleton, two lifelong friends and former college and high school basketball stars, at Middleton’s “Came From Nxthing Designer Apparel” shop at 120 James Brown Boulevard. Our interview (below) covered the coat drive, Reggie’s entrepreneurial journey, and the meaning behind the “Came From Nxthing” brand, which originated from the music of Roman Hill, our third interviewee. Hill’s friendship with Doby and Middleton helped sprout a “movement” that has provided a framework for the three former athletes to impact the world through acts of community service, business, art, entrepreneurship and charity.

The interview provided a great chance for me to get reacquainted with two men I’ve watched grow from being boys who excelled in a game, to leaders of their families and their community. I bet others who watched them star at Glenn Hills and Winthrop (Middleton), and at Laney and Augusta University (Doby), will also gain satisfaction from hearing about their continued personal development. For example, Reggie explained how he took advantage of his basketball talent to earn a job playing professional basketball in London. Then he used his experience there to hatch a business idea to bring high-quality fashion for an affordable price to people in his hometown.

Reggie Middleton scored 1,186 points for Winthrop.

Harold’s concern for people who are most in need, whether it be the men and women he personally distributed the coats to earlier this month, or the students in his school he recalled giving clothes and shoes to when he was in grade school, is the original reason for my getting back into contact with the two men I once coached and taught when they were middle schoolers.

Harold Doby distributing coats in downtown Augusta on January 4.

I’m grateful we reconnected because they are a shining example of what can be greatest about sports and the community that builds around such a life journey: strong, caring relationships developed through shared experiences, encounters with adversity, and moments of triumph, as well as failures and hardships. Reggie’s story about how he has been able to take the difficult circumstances of the pandemic and nonetheless thrive in business with his “back against the wall” by drawing on his experiences as a basketball player growing up reinforces something I’ve always believed, that youth sports is great practice for real life. 

Harold Doby and Reggie Middleton, as well as Roman Hill, whom Doby first met as his rapping Augusta University basketball teammate, are winning the game of real life every bit as much as they did when they mastered the game of basketball as younger men.

Look out for news of the next Drive from B.A.L.L. Visit the Came From Nxthing Designer Apparel Facebook page to see Reggie’s merchandise, shop with him online or find store information:

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