The rain and thunderstorms forced some high schools to move their Friday night games to Saturday night. Nevertheless, it was a fun and defining weekend for South Carolina High School League football.
We at Voting under the Influence were present at the state quarterfinal match up between Ware Shoals and Great Falls on Saturday night. Before the game, the Great Falls team was down in the opposing end zone talking some serious trash talk to Ware Shoals fans along the end zone fence and a couple were even making some rather unflattering gestures against the goal post. You might could call those gestures efforts to make love. The smack talk continued from some Great Falls players even as the crowd was asked to observe a moment of silence for John Ed Williams, father of Ware Shoals offensive line coach Sanford Williams, who passed away this week. Frankly, the pregame behavior was a disgrace to the fine tradition of Great Falls. (It made me want to take my old arthritic body and suit up and hit somebody!) We at VUI will simply chalk it up as kids being perhaps a little bit over motivated for the game. After all, if you follow high school and college sports, you have to keep in mind they are just kids.
That pregame fire did lead Great Falls down the field early and give them an early lead. However late in the second quarter, trailing 15-12, high school football fans learned that arguably the most conservative coach in Class A football, Jeff Murdock, can have a wild streak. He had his Hornets line up for a field goal, only to fake it and have Ladarius Hawthorne make a 9 yard TD strike to put the Hornets up 18-15 at the half. Indeed, throughout the game, Murdock found the pass more than expected and had a great player in Hawthorne. Hawthorne passed for one TD, rushed for 115 yards and two TDs, and caught the ball for 133 yards and another TD.
The end result was Ware Shoals winning, 31-21, and members of the trash talking Great Falls team were actually lying upon the field after the game.
Christ Church did not get over their quarterfinal hump, losing at home to Williston-Elko by a score of 21-14, thus Williston-Elko will travel to Ware Shoals next Friday night to decide the Class A-II Upper State champion. The winner will play the winner of Scott's Branch and Blackville-Hilda in Orangeburg on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
In other games on the high school level, several issues were decided. Here's the short comments about them.
In Class AAAA-I, the living legend's Summerville team got whipped by the Gaffney Indians, 40-10. Both Byrnes and Dorman rolled to first round wins.
T.L. Hanna got its hats handed to them by Goose Creek, 28-2.
Marlboro County whipped South Aiken, 47-14 in a Class AAA clash.
Scott's Branch dealt traditional power Timmonsville a 30-24 playoff loss. Blackville-Hilda downed Lake View.
Abbeville got over the second round jinx, with a 35-27 win over Mid-Carolina on Friday night in a game delayed by thunderstorms. Abbeville will face Woodruff, who won a Saturday showdown with Batesburg-Leesville, 28-21.
Steve Taneyhill's Chesterfield team soundly whipped Ninety-Six and looks poised to take the Class A-I crown. They will deal with Bamberg-Earhardt next Friday.
Regardless of the weather and delays, it was another strong weekend for high school football. One that has little towns around the state both thrilled and disappointed. Even though I am an old basketball player and coach, I recognize how much high school football means to to so many around the state. And let's face it, with the major colleges charging us more to watch them, the economy uncertain, the best bang for your football buck is at the high school level. VUI will be at the Upper State Class A-II championship on Friday and at the state championships. Forgive us, but we will admit we hope to be following the Ware Shoals Hornets to Orangeburg and then the Abbeville Panthers to Clemson. However, that will not stop us from calling it like we see it as the playoffs work out. All that said, who knew Murdock had that wild streak in him? It seems Great Falls did not.