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Home, private schoolers on team
by Ericka Birdsong
ebirdsong@neighbornewspapers.com
June 19, 2013 01:32 PM | 1322 views | 0 0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
First-year head football coach Jose Hechavarria stands in the seats at Jessie Davis Park in Douglasville where Grace Christian Academy plays its home games.
First-year head football coach Jose Hechavarria stands in the seats at Jessie Davis Park in Douglasville where Grace Christian Academy plays its home games.
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Grace Christian Academy in Hiram and the Trinity Home’sCool Depot Panthers – a team of home-schooled high school athletes — have merged their football programs and have a new head coach and athletic director.

Grace Christian will play in the Glory For Christ league which has 12 high school teams and allows home-schooled athletes the chance to compete beyond the recreation league level.

Formerly Grace Baptist Christian School, the school hired Chris Vineyard as the athletic director and Jose Hechavarria as the new head football coach.

Both are Georgia State University graduates. Hechavarria was previously the defensive coordinator at Young Americans Christian School in Conyers.

Beginning at Grace in February and becoming a science teacher, this is Hechavarria’s first time as a fulltime teacher and his first head coaching position. He has been coaching baseball, football and track since 1999.

Preparing to start his first season with the Eagles, Hechavarria said he believes it is quite a challenge the team is facing this year.

“Our goals are two-pronged. We’re trying to expand the athletic department and our facilities and the football program is practically starting from scratch as we’re melding the remnants of two programs together,” he said.

The athletic department is hoping the team can secure its own home playing field. They currently play their home games at Jessie Davis Park in Douglasville.

In regards to the team, Hechavarria said so far things seem to be going well, as he is pleased with their progress. Though they still need a lot of work, what he has seen is encouraging.

“We’re trying to replace good seniors from both teams that brought leadership and talent. We have to find new leaders and develop them. We have some good-looking talent but it’s young and inexperienced,” Hechavarria said.

Another issue the team faces is depth. Hechavarria calls it one of the “Achilles heels” that both teams faced and could face again this year if they don’t get a better turnout.

With the merger of the two programs, Hechavarria hopes to gain more players. If not, Hechavarria said his team will have to work harder to train and condition itself as the “majority of the teams will be well coached, solid teams, stocked with numbers.”
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