New battalion system promotes leadership, responsibility within football program

Alex Smith, Staff Writer

It’s the second round in the state playoffs in November and the 9 – 2 St. Pius X Golden Lions are down 31 – 19 to the 9-2 Cartersville Hurricanes. As the minutes on the clock wind down to zero, everyone knows this will be the last game for the Golden Lions, and the seniors on the team begin to feel sorrow and pain as they realize this will be the final time they ever play high school football. On the other hand, the juniors know that this is now their team and their time to step up. 

After the game, senior quarterback Dennis O’Shea addressed his teammates in the locker room.

 “Juniors, thank you for your help, and the work you put in does not go unnoticed,” he said. “It is your time to step up and show your leadership to the underclassmen and lead this team farther than we seniors did. I love you all as a family and hope the best for you. Thank you and go Lions!”

The juniors high five their senior teammates and absorb the loss, but they quickly change their mindset and know that it’s now their turn to be leaders. January marks the start of the offseason for the Golden Lions. The rising juniors and seniors have a break from the football field but they are still working hard every day in their battalion. 

Battalions are a new system that strength and conditioning coach Ryan Liccardo introduced to the football program last year. There are six battalions, and each of their names represent attributes needed for a successful football and academic career in high school: Chemistry, Character, Choice, Courage, Commitment, and Consequence.

Two seniors are paired up and draft a group of underclassmen who they think best represent their specific battalion, and the groups compete against each other throughout the offseason by earning points for a wide variety of athletic, academic, and personal accomplishments, including being on time for morning lifting sessions; earning a report card with all A’s and B’s; seeing a teacher for extra help; getting a tutor if needed; and helping out another classmate.

The draft took place in December, about three weeks after their season-ending loss to Cartersville, and the competition continues throughout the winter and spring. Once summer practices begin in June, Coach Liccardo will add up each battalion’s points and announces a winner. Members of that battalion get first pick of lockers and a t-shirt representing their battalion. 

The team has responded well to this new competition system, and they think it’s a great way to emphasize that football isn’t just filled with meatheads and jocks but men with excellent characteristics and well-rounded student-athletes.