Tuesday, May 27, 2014
New North Augusta head baseball coach Matt Branon is going to be quite busy over the next few months.
Branon, who was named the successor to former coach Vic Radcliff, will be coaching all three summer squads and will run the upcoming baseball camp June 16-19.
A North Augusta resident, Branon said it was the only way he could truly make his imprint on the program as a first-year coach.
As far as what lured him to leaving South Aiken, Branon spoke about the tradition already in place.
He also said that he believes there are many great athletes in place.
“I'm a firm believer in coaching has to adapt to players that you have,” he said. “In the past North Augusta has had a lot of team speed. We had a team meeting and I told them I wanted to be aggressive on the bases. I don't want to say I am a small-ball coach, but at the same time we will be aggressive. We will approach at-bats the same way, we will be aggressive, and I want us to be aggressive at all times on the mound, at the plate and on the bases. That's my ideal philosophy.”
Branon already knows Class AAAA, Region V is tough to navigate.
In addition to South Aiken, Lexington and White Knoll, the Jackets will welcome newcomers Irmo and River Bluff this year. Aiken will move down to Class AAA and Dutch Fork has also been moved in realignment.
“Day in and day out in Region V we will play quality opponents,” he said. “I would argue that it was the toughest in the state. Some folks in Charleston may argue with that, but ours is always competitive. I also think playing that schedule helps prepare you for the playoffs.”
As far as his former boss, Branon said coaching with Bob Polewski was “an honor.”
“He's my mentor, and he means a lot to me, as does the South Aiken program,” he said. “I'm sure it will be a competitive game, because he and I are very similar with our passion for the game. I respect him to no end.”
Branon will teach in North Augusta's freshman academy, something he was also a part of at South Aiken.
“I take my job very seriously, I'm passionate on the ball field and passionate in the classroom,” he said. “I take it extremely seriously to create good, young adults as they exit my classroom.”
Branon is also a good friend of Fox Creek head coach Wesley Brown.
Branon said he would root for the Predators in every game – except when it is across the field from the Jackets.
When asked if fans could look forward to an annual showdown, Branon said he would not be able to decide that until the time gets closer.
“We will just have to see if our schedules match up,” he said. “We'll see what we can do, but we will both need to commit to it.”
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.