AS THE DIRECTOR OF FALL PRODUCT FOR
Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., Ryan Farrar is tasked
with providing football players with the lightest
performing helmet on the market. Farrar knows that
football players don’t want to feel constricted by their
helmets. While they’re on the field, football players
don’t want to feel their helmets at all.
Farrar, a former baseball player at Missouri
Baptist University, feels his team at Rawlings
achieved its goal of providing the lightest performing helmet on the market for the fall season. He
recently shared his thoughts on the new product
line with FNF Magazine.
WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOU T THIS PROD-
It launched this spring. It’s the NRG Tachyon
football helmet. We’re very excited about the
product. We’ve tested it on the field in the NFL and
NCAA as well as high school. The initial feedback
has been positive.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THE HELMET
FROM PREVIOUS RAWLINGS MODELS?
We stuck with the same strategy of creating a
lighter-weight, lower-profile, comfortable helmet.
We just received a five-star rating in the 2014 Vir-
ginia Tech Helmet Ratings.
This helmet has three main technologies. The
first is the AC2 layer, which stands for active
compression cores. We’ve integrated cores into
the padding system, which allow the helmet to
perform at different temperature levels without
The second technology is the custom comfort cush-
ioning. The cushioning is inflated against the shell.
All other helmets inflate against the head. Those
helmets lose the contact surface area when inflated.
The last technology is the heat exchange. We take
pride in the fact that all of our helmets provide venti-
lation in the shell. The vents are not blocked by pad-
ding; there’s a path for air to exit through the shell.
ARE THOSE ALL NEW TECHNOLOGIES?
Heat exchange has been around for a couple of
years, but there is more surface area of vents in the
helmet. The two other technologies are brand new.
HOW DID YOU DETERMINE THAT THE HEL-
ME T NEEDED TO IMPROVE IN THOSE AREAS?
We talk to all different players. We go into NFL
locker rooms to talk to equipment managers. We
talk to a lot of high school players about the cos-
metic fit and feel.
ISN’T IT DIFFICULT TO CATER TO THE
TYPICAL ATHLETE’S DESIRE TO WEAR A LIGHT
HELMET WHILE ALSO MAINTAINING A HIGH
STANDARD FOR SAFET Y?
That’s definitely the hardest thing to do. If a helmet is not comfortable or too big, nobody is going to
wear it. The Tachyon is the perfect storm helmet. It
gives the performance players need at a five-star
rated level, and we’ve reduced the weight of the
helmet. – DAN GU T TENPLAN
A Lighter, 5-Star Helmet
Warriors since 2009. Senior offensive lineman James Hagins returns as one of the top offensive lineman in the region.
Wilkinson County will only play one public school in region
play – Twiggs County – and that’s a game the Warriors
should win. Beyond that, in the region Wilkinson County will
have to beat up on the private schools that populate region
7-A as the temperature falls.
ATHENS ACADEMY SPARTANS
2013 RECORD: 6-4
THE COACH: Michael Gunn
THE PLAYERS: Richard Ferguson (Sr., WR/LB), Hudson
Hayden (Sr., RB), Aiden Black (Sr., TE)
THE WORD: Athens Academy had their worst season since
2005 last fall. No one expects that to continue this fall.
Longtime coach Michael Gunn has followed up recently
disappointing seasons with double-digit-win seasons the
last ten years. The schedule lays out the ability for Athens
Academy to jump up their power rating. Commerce, Athens
Christian and Prince Avenue Christian all made the playoffs
last year, and will all try to get back this fall. It is certainly
possible that region 8-A could get three private schools into
the Class A Private School Playoffs – that’s if Athens Academy does their part this fall.
ATHENS CHRISTIAN EAGLES
2013 RECORD: 5-6
THE COACH: Steve Brooks
THE PLAYERS: Marquez Henson (Sr., RB), Zach Payne (Sr.,
DB), Keuntae Oglesby (Sr., RB/DL), Kyle Sartain (Sr., WR),
Demetrius Mc Whorter (Sr., ATH), Josiah Brooks (Sr., DB),
Taylor Hardigree (Sr., DL), Darion Barron (Sr., DL), Phillip Rivers (Sr., OL), Kent Brown (Sr., OL), Jonathan Hill (Sr., OL), Alex
Henning (Sr., TE), Chris Tate (Sr., WR), Justin Brooks (Sr., DB),
Jonathan Hill (Sr., RB), Austin McDaniel (Jr., OL)
THE WORD: Athens Christian barely got into the playoffs, and
barley scored in their 41-3 loss to #1 seed Eagle’s Landing
Christian Academy last fall. The Eagles’ appearance in the
playoff Class A Private School Playoffs wasn’t what they
wanted, but at least they were there. This fall they will try to
repeat their appearance, but perhaps not as the #16 seed.
That will involved pulling out games against the likes of Commerce (lost 22-21 in overtime in 2013) and Price Avenue
Christian (lost 50-10 in 2013). A win against Class AAA
Oconee County on September 5th would help the Eagles’
power rating for the playoffs as well.
2013 RECORD: 7-4
THE COACH: Michael Brown
THE PLAYERS: Cole Chancey (Soph., RB), Caleb Brooks (Jr., QB),
KJ Jones (Sr., WR), Ja’Various Wood (Jr., WR), Hunter Wilkes (Sr.,
WR), Bryan Chandler (Sr., TE), Tyreke Wiggins (Sr., LB), Jessie
Underhile (Sr., RB), Kevin Knox (Sr., OL/DL), Derek Benoit (Sr.,
DL), Zach Boyer (Sr., DL), Mac McKinzie (Sr., WR/LB), Rod Hill
(Sr., OL/DL), Grant Mayberry (Sr., RB/DB)
THE WORD: Commerce is one of Georgia’s traditional small-
school powers. Two state titles and 17 region titles later, the
Tigers are one of the few programs in the state to have won
more than 500 games in program history. Commerce, for a
long time, was the power in their region. That’s not the case any
more with the powers that be in the form of the private schools
in the region. But that’s now who the Tigers are competing with
for a state championship – that’s the rest of the public schools
in the state. So Commerce will have to better position them-
selves for playoff seeding this fall. Last year Charlton County
drove the distance of the state and knocked out the Tigers in
Commerce – of course Charlton was just getting started on
their run. Commerce will look to once again host a playoff game
this fall. Perhaps this time they won’t run into the hottest public
school in Class A in the first round.
GEORGE WALTON ACADEMY
2013 RECORD: 5-5
THE COACH: Don Williams
THE PLA YERS: Dimetrios Mason (Jr., RB), Buck Fisher (Jr., QB),
Cole Fisher (Sr., K), Tucker Shull (Sr., QB/DB), George Hart
(Sr., DB), Paul Kouassi (Sr., LB), Charlie Redovian (Sr., WR/
DB), Nick Broadwater (Sr., LB/RB), Cole Inman (Sr., OL), Wes
Hutter (Sr., DB), Chris Broadwater (Soph., RB), Tre Stodghill
(Jr., DL), Bowen Moore (Jr., OL), Connor Malcom (Jr., TE)
THE WORD: George Walton lost at the state champs in overtime
last fall. In other words, there was potential for the Bulldogs last
season. But going 5-5 was a disappointment for a program that
had won 38 games over the previous four years. The good news
is the last time the Bulldogs won only five games in a season
they followed up with back-to-back ten-plus win seasons. For
George Walton this fall is about getting back to the playoffs, and
the 2014 schedule provides adequate potential and pitfalls.
Hapeville Charter in week one will be a significant challenge.
The usual slate of region 8-A foes will give longtime coach Don
Williams plenty to think about as the season grows near.
HEBRON CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
2013 RECORD: 2-8
THE COACH: Kevin Shaffer
THE PLAYERS: Nate Johnston (Sr., QB), Trey Selman (Sr.,
WR/DB), Hunter Johnson (Sr., ATH), William Brice (Sr., LB),
Charles Redovian (Sr., TE), Ethan Reynolds (Sr., DL)
THE WORD: After a rather successful run of playing non-region
foes in the fall, Hebron Christian Academy jumped back into
playing a region schedule the last two years. That became very
difficult for the Lions as they managed only three wins in that
time. This fall the wins could be easier to come by due to the
bottom of region 8-A. Still, Kevin Shaffer will have his work cut
out for him. The Lions were 0-6 in the region last fall and were
only within t wo touchdowns of Athens Academy last fall. There is
still work to be done in Dacula.
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY LIONS
2013 RECORD: 2-7
THE COACH: Matthew Gruhn
THE PLAYERS: David Abee (Sr., QB), Kyle Larson (Sr., OL/DL),
Jack Lipoid (Sr., OL/DL), Mitchell McIntire (Sr., OL), Avonte
Gober (Jr., ATH)
THE WORD: Somewhat isolated in Gainesville, Matthew Gruhn’s
program will play a region schedule for the first time since
2009. Lakeview Academy has only had a program since 2007,
so the Lions are still trying to form the base of their tradition.
This fall Lakeview Academy will start the three consecutive
road games – but the game at Towns County on September
12th is one the Lions need to win. Still, the challenge of winning
in region 8-A is no joke. If Lakeview Academy can get four wins
this fall the season should be considered a success.
PRINCE AVENUE CHRISTIAN
2013 RECORD: 10-2
THE COACH: Jeff Herron
THE PLAYERS: Zantravious Shields (Sr., DB), Tyson Herron
(Sr., QB), Seabon Davis (Sr., RB/DB), Jonah Doster (Sr., RB/
DB), Justin Jackson (Sr., DL)
THE WORD: When a coach has won as many state titles and as
many games as Jeff Herron the sky’s the limit… and the sky
is the expectation, too. But the Wolverines did a pretty good
job of fulfilling expectations last fall – going 10-2 and getting
the #5 seed in the Class A Private School Playoffs. After unceremoniously dismissing Brookstone 51-0 in the first round,
the Wolverines fell to #4 Calvary Day in the quarterfinals. This
fall Herron will challenge his team right off the bat – by hosting state champs Aquinas in week one. Time will tell what the
future holds for Prince Avenue Christian, but know this. Herron
has never had a losing season, and he’s won 10 or more games
15 of the last 16 seasons… he knows what he’s doing.
PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN STARS
2013 RECORD: 0-2
THE COACH: Ken Robinson
THE PLAYERS: Marvin Willis (Sr., OL/DL), Carson Porter-field (Sr., TE)
THE WORD: Now the clock is running on Providence Christian.
Former GAC coach Ken Robinson and his Stars only played
twice last season – both losses. But this fall the Stars jump
right into one of the most difficult regions for private schools in
Class A football. 8-A is no joke for anyone… let alone a second-year program. Look for the Stars to try to get their first win in
program history against Whitefield Academy in week two. After
that the Stars could get a good shot to win at Hebron Christian
on October 10th or against Towns County on October 31st.
TOWNS COUNTY INDIANS
2013 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Billy Barnhart
THE PLAYERS: Cruz Shook (Sr., RB/DB), Kyle Davis (Sr., LB/
OL), Koby Denton (Soph., RB/DB)
THE WORD: The Fighting Indians will play a full region schedule
in an attempt to build the program back to respectability. Coach
Blair Harrison got off to a good start on that front with a 4-6 record in non-region play last fall. But he abruptly left for Louisiana
in the offseason. The problem for a program like Towns County
is that it is one of the smallest public schools in Class A football,
and it is playing in a region with some real firepower. Beating the
likes of Prince Avenue Christian and Commerce seems a little
too much to ask for the Indians, but they ended 2013 with four
wins in their last five games. So to some degree there is momentum and optimism at Frank McClure Stadium these days. A
good sign would be beating local rival Union County to start the
season, but that’s only happened once in school history.