50-in-50: St. Pius

The St. Pius football team didn’t need to waste a lot of time on conditioning when spring practice rolled around this year.

The Golden Lions had only about a three-week break between their season-ending loss to Buford in the Class AAA championship game and the early start to spring workouts, so the players were already in good shape.

St. Pius held its “spring” practice from Jan. 7-18, getting approval from the GHSA to start earlier than the state-allowed date of Feb. 1 because of a lack of field space on the Atlanta private school’s campus.

“The advantage for us in having spring practice in January is that if you were to get somebody hurt, which we were thankful we didn’t, you might get them back,” Golden Lions coach Paul Standard said. “The other thing is that we were able to get most of our kids at spring practice. And we were not tired; they were still in football mode. We were fortunate enough to be playing until the middle of December, so it was really about three weeks from the day we got beat by Buford when we starting spring training.”

St. Pius had one of the most successful seasons in school history in 2012, tying the record for victories with 12 and reaching the state final for the first time since winning its only championship in 1968. The Golden Lions also won the region championship for the third time in four seasons and the sixth time overall.

“We didn’t have one scholarship kid on a team that played for a state championship,” Standard said. “That doesn’t mean that it was coaching, I don’t mean that at all. It just means that the kids worked extremely hard together. Now they had some younger kids that helped them out, but they did a good job of leading. So I think that’s the legacy that this group is leaving for every St. Pius team that follows them, is that it can be done without having the five-star athletes.”

Perhaps it lacked scholarship and five-star athletes, but St. Pius had several top-quality players who must be replaced. That’s particularly true on offense, where they will lose to graduation all-state running back Ryan Braswell, all-state lineman Phineas Andrews, all-region quarterback Jack Spear and all-region lineman David Marsau.

But the Golden Lions, who currently have about 90 players in the program, have what Standard called an outstanding rising senior class. Leading the way is Nick Ruffin, who was a first-team all-state selection last season as a defensive back. Ruffin will move to safety in 2013 and will see considerable time in the backfield on offense. Kicker Thomas O’Leary and linebacker Daniel Crochet, who were first-team all-state players, also will be back.

“We’re done with spring, and we feel like we’ve got the kids that are going to be able to be plugged into those missing spots,” Standard said. “Now we can just concentrate on trying to get stronger and work on our conditioning before we get to June.”

St. Pius Golden Lions

2012 record: 12-3, 5-1 in Region 6-AAA, lost to Buford 10-3 in the Class AAA championship game.

Starters returning: 6 offense, 5 defense

Key players lost: QB Jack Spear, FB Ryan Braswell, OL Phineas Andrews, OL David Marsau, DT Quincy Nioporte, CB Michael Sikorski

Key players returning: DB/RB Nick Ruffin, PK Thomas O’Leary, LB Daniel Crochet, LB/FB Dalton Wilson, RB/DB Branden Mitchell

Spring practice dates: Jan. 7-18


Aug. 30 – Westminster

Sept. 6 – at North Oconee

Sept. 13 – Thomson

Sept. 20 – at Lovett

Sept. 27 – at Towers

Oct. 4 – McNair

Oct. 18 – at Cedar Grove

Oct. 25 – Woodward Academy

Nov. 1 – at Blessed Trinity

Nov. 8 – Decatur

Outlook: St. Pius loses six players who made the all-state or all-region team last season. But participation in the program is high, 11 starters return, and the rising senior and junior classes are strong. Nick Ruffin could be a star on both sides of the ball, and all-state linebacker Daniel Crochet should anchor another solid defense. Coach Paul Standard has not had a losing season in 12 years at the school, and this isn’t likely to be his first.

18 comments Add your comment

Edward Hass

April 16th, 2013
7:29 am

Wait a second….”we didn’t have one scholarship kid on a team that played for a state championship”?????? He should have said we didn’t have a senior scholarship player. Let’s not forget that they HAD a UGA commit on that team. Sure, they had to kick him out of school before the championship game, but he sure did help get them there. Then there is Ruffin, with multiple D-1 offers as a junior. So, I wouldn’t use that statement Coach Standard….it makes people wonder and think about it too much. You know…..

some sense

April 16th, 2013
8:44 am

Wow…what a sourpuss!!! Who ran over your dog today, Edward???

Metro Fan

April 16th, 2013
10:22 am

M-A-C-H-I-N-E… One of the best programs in the state, and talk about having kids coached up. Standard is a class act, too.

City Slicker

April 16th, 2013
10:57 am

I agree that Pius is an outstanding program. no doubt Standard has them well coached. I do find it odd however, that he choose to point out the “scholarship kids…and 5 – Star players” considering they did have Glass and Ruffin. Now I don’t know what happened with the Glass situation, but I know it’s never a good thing when perhaps your top player leaves the team in the middle of the playoffs. And of course Ruffin is still there. So, even if they didn’t have big time senior prospects last season…they had big time recruits. Now they are seniors I guess. So now the question is will the TEAM work together as well this season?


April 16th, 2013
2:00 pm

Spring practice 3 weeks after the season ends seens less than ideal, no matter how it is spun in the article. Kids will go 5-6 months without any contact and without running the offense/defense under the supervision of coaches. Part of the benefit of spring practice in March or April is to keep the kids dialed-in.

What I have seen and what I have heard

April 16th, 2013
3:54 pm

When you give an interview or write anything down it will be later left open for interpretation by all who read it.. Bible for one, US Constitution, Spread Offense vs Pro Set just to name a couple others. Fact is that yes Glass played well in 11 games last year he was slowed by injuries and continued to answer the bell much to his credit. He played great against WACO, but DIDN’T play against N.Hall in semi final. He played little in the other playoff games except WACO, these games were not that close.(see scores below)

11/16 7:30 pm Dawson County 28 St. Pius 72,
11/23 7:30 pm Hart County 15 St. Pius 31
11/30 7:30 pm Washington County 35 St. Pius 40
12/07 7:30 pm North Hall 6 St. Pius 31
12/14 5:30 pm Buford 10 St. Pius 3
Nick Glass has moved on and he did not get kicked out. @HASS you are misinformed. Wishing him the best and he will succeed at his new school.
You can take the”coach speak” on the scholarship thing like maybe all the colleges missed out on a fullback who gained 966 yards while not playing in many 4th quarters.
Is the “coach speak” about as the idea folks have that the private schools are out beating the bushes bringing in players that are stars that is why St. Pius wins. Look folks you are wrong about this school. Truth is 550 plus applications for 275 spots in freshman class and some kids who played on the feeder teams did not get in. No priorities given to athletes here.
Yes Nick Ruffin is a standout but he is one player and in football it takes many players working together to win otherwise Cedar Groves with QB Jonathan McCary would have played against Dawson County’ with QB Tyler Dominy in the state final.
Whatever you think the result is that football is a team game the coach is elevating the whole team concept here. Praising the effort they gave as a team that had lost a lot of seniors from the previous season.
The 2013 season will be challenging once again because for the second year in a row a new QB will be taking over.


April 16th, 2013
4:39 pm

Too bad you didn’t win the big one, had them on the ropes but Buford don’t lose much. Ever. When Calhoun moves up, it will be like old times. (Well lets hope like last time, not old times)


April 16th, 2013
7:21 pm

2 Things: @what you saw and heard etc
Why does a kid decide to leave his team and school on his on free will DURING the state playoffs? Man, that is a strange one there.
I don’t think too many people would say St Pius isn’t a respectable school and program. It does just seem weird that Standard would even bring up that they didn’t have scholarship kids. Clearly they had at least a few big time recruits. I guess he meant they didn’t have big time seniors.


April 16th, 2013
7:27 pm

FootballTopFan would like to congratulate the St. Pius Golden Lions and Head Coach Paul Standard on a great season going to the Class AAA Championship game !!!

St. Pius has a strong football program and will again be a force in Class AAA.

We wish the Golden Lions good luck and success.

Football Top Fan loves high school football.


April 16th, 2013
9:17 pm

St Pius had, and has some star players, don’t be misled. Stanard is a good coach that gets the most out of his players. I expect they’ll make another deep run, probably final 4 depending on what their side of the bracket looks like. Carver and possibly Peach could be back. A Buford/St Pius rematch is very possible but Cartersville, Thomson, Wash Co and Carver might also have something to say about that. We shall see.

Athens Fan

April 16th, 2013
10:53 pm

Looking for the usual suspects? I’ll go out on a limb and say you might want to add North Oconee to that list of AAA contenders for 2013. From what I am hearing they should be stronger and more experienced than last season. St Pius’ early game AT North Oconee will be interesting.

Big Fan

April 17th, 2013
2:33 pm

Outstanding group of coaches who coach these boys way up! Congrats CPS!!!


April 18th, 2013
6:55 am

Athens Fan : You are correct. N Oconee is going to have a strong team this year. The St Pius game at N. Oconee will be one to watch. Our team did lose some key players and it will be interesting to see how the young ones respond. See you in September.


April 18th, 2013
4:05 pm

Wait a minute, ” scholarship”, I thought you couldn’t recruit players to give them a scholly in high schools, some one might need to check in to this.

Roy D. Mercer

April 18th, 2013
4:28 pm

He’s talking about seniors from last year not getting college scholarship offers. Pretty darn impressive that you can play in the dome and that not happen. By the way, N. Oconee had a strong team last year.


April 19th, 2013
7:35 pm

I seen Pius the X play in the dome. Without a doubt, da best playa on dat team is #42. He’s a freakin sophmore. What’s his name?? Dalton Wilson is a BEAST! Why Coach Standard never wanna menchen the underclassman?

Big Fan

April 20th, 2013
5:11 am

No need to mention him or anybody else individually. It’s a team. Dalton’s gotta a lot of fun ahead of him.


April 23rd, 2013
8:16 am

Hey Big Fan, No need to mention Coach Standard then. He’s a great motivator for sure, but the kids are the ones making plays. Dalton is a class act too.