FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 17, 2013) -- Fans of Chattahoochee County High School can expect to see a stronger, more physical football team this year, head coach Russell Morgan said.

That will be due in large part to the addition of a new weight room facility, which the Chattahoochee County school board approved to be built in February 2012 and was completed in January.

Athletes won't have to worry about the old weight room in the school's crowded gymnasium, but will be able to work out as a team with minimum distractions.

"It was a lot harder," said Chris Askew about the old weight room. "There was just no room. We were already getting stronger with the old weight room, but the new one just makes you want to lift a little bit more."

Askew started at quarterback last season as a junior and will be a senior next season.

"There are no distractions in here," he said. "I can focus on my technique and work harder."

In his two seasons as head football coach, Morgan said one major problem his teams have had is a lack of physical toughness, and the new weight room will allow that issue to be addressed over the spring and summer.

"Our strength should increase right off the bat," he said. "I definitely expect to see it carry over to the field. Strength is mostly gained during the offseason."

Of course, the room won't be limited to just athletes, but to any student who wants to get a balanced workout, he said.

"We have a lot of kids who are not athletes who want to get stronger," he said. "I always advise students to take weight-lifting classes whether they're athletes or not. I think it'll help get kids involved."

The new building will also be home to the school's JROTC air-rifle team. A computerized rifle range lies behind the weight room, which Lt. Col. Kelvin Scott, senior army instructor and coach, said is the most advanced in the area.

Most schools use paper targets, which have to be viewed by coaches and judges to tally the score, Scott said. At Chattco, computers instantly tally the score and make them available, saving the 10 minutes it would take to change out a paper target.

"With our system, spectators and shooters get immediate feed back with their scores," he said. "It's taking the judgment of the coaches out of it and provides better feedback."

Just as Morgan expects the weight room to benefit the football team's performance, Scott expects the range to produce an even better rifle squad, he said.

"The school has a tradition of producing top-quality shooters," he said. "This helps coaches and shooters spot common errors and it gives us more training time."

The range consists of 10 lanes, which would allow two teams of five shooters to shoot simultaneously and cut down on the time it takes to get through a match, which is especially helpful to the visiting team, Scott said.

"You definitely feel it when you start traveling," he said.

The range will have an open house Friday at 7 p.m. The facility is located behind the school's gymnasium.

Chattahoochee County superintendent Jimmy Martin said the cost of the project was approximately $1.1 million and was funded by revenue produced by the county's Education Special Local Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST), which was proposed in 2009 and received a 90 percent voter approval. But the idea for the facility had been in the works since shortly after the school opened in 2005, he said.

"It's been something we've wanted to do for many years," he said. "The timing was right."

And the facility is just part of a young school growing quickly, Martin said. A plan to build a locker room next to the school's football field that will support the football and soccer teams is also in the works and Martin said he hopes to have it approved by the school board by May.

"We want our kids to be competitive and have facilities that meet their needs and that we can be proud of," he said. "Everyone wants the best for our children. That's been our philosophy here.

"You obviously have to have athletes to be successful. But as far as developing those athletes, this is a big step toward that."