Chapple returns as GAC eyes first title

Sonny Kennedy

Greater Atlanta Christian may be under a relatively new regime with head coach Tim Hardy calling the shots. However, the mentality of a winning culture has not been altered.


With the 2013 football campaign in the foreseeable future, Hardy prefers to view every season as a fresh start and to essentially start from ground zero. The No. 3 Spartans have 18 starters returning to the gridiron and that should bode well.


Of the 18 starters returning, the Spartans’ prized possessions consist of quarterback Rafe Chapple, offensive lineman Britt Lee, wide receiver Chris Williams and safety Ross Wood — all of which will be seniors.


Chapple, who set or tied multiple school records in 2012, including passing for 366 yards with five touchdown strikes against Heard County, is a standout player that Hardy raved about.


“He’s an excellent football player and quarterback,” said Hardy. “To me quarterback always starts with leadership, it starts with your competitiveness, your attitude, your drive, your example, and he excels in all those things. He can really throw a football and is very accurate. He can throw a wide variety of throws, has a really good deep ball, has got a strong arm and touch in the middle. He really drives the ship for us and our guys respond to his leadership.”


Chapple clearly sets the tone for the Spartans and plays an important role as the quarterback.


Lee, who stands 6-foot-3, 273 pounds, can play on both sides of the ball, but is more known for his physical play on the offensive line. The big guy will be leaned on by his fellow offensive linemen due to his experience and the fact that the Spartans will be developing a few new linemen. Nevertheless, they do have some weathered linemen returning for their second full campaign in the trenches and that should take some pressure off of Lee, who has been shown strong interest by college programs such as Air Force and Navy.


Williams should be Chapple’s go-to guy as he has flashed the ability to make all the catches. Williams showed up in a plethora of contests last season and has a knack for scoring touchdowns.


Ross Wood will also play a vital role for the Spartans especially in the back seven, an area on defense that should be a potential strength for the team.


The 2013 schedule is by no means a pushover. The Spartans will have their hands full but that is a situation that the great teams welcome with open arms.


“Well, first we have an excellent region,” said Hardy. “Our region is small, but the quality is really high. Any of our region games are huge for us.”


As far as non region games, GAC has the opener against Stone Mountain at Hallford Stadium circled. The Spartans want to start the season off on a positive note and a win against the Pirates will certainly thrust the program towards their goals. Another game that is in the minds of Hardy and his squad is against the Thomson Bulldogs, which beat GAC last season 36-27.


If all goes according to plan, the Spartans will have a formidable football team for the 2013 season and should make their fan base proud to represent the red, black and gold.

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