Another Black Friday, another pair of losses by area schools to end the high school football season.
This year, it was Strom Thurmond (12-2) and Silver Bluff (11-2) that saw their seasons come to a close on the Friday after Thanksgiving, each falling at home in the Lower State championship game for their division.
For Silver Bluff, the loss was a crushing one. The Bulldogs never led, falling 42-7 to Bishop England (12-1), which will now play Abbeville (11-2) for the Class AA, Division II crown on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Benedict College in Columbia. The defending state champion Bishops beat Central in the same location last year by a score of 10-0.
Strom Thurmond came much closer to punching a state title ticket, leading 10-7 until less than four minutes remained in the game before Hartsville (14-0) scored to take the lead and returned a fumble 70 yards for a score to ice the game. The Red Foxes will play Union County (9-5) for the Class AAA title on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium in a game loaded with storylines.
As previously reported, Hartsville has played more than half its season after the death of lineman Ronald Rouse, who collapsed on the field and later died from complications of an enlarged heart. On the other sideline will be Union County head coach Steve Taneyhill, a former University of South Carolina quarterback returning to Williams-Brice after leading a 5-5 team through four road games to get a shot at the championship.
In the other state title games, Fairfield Central (11-2) and Dillon (12-1) will square off Friday at 5:30 p.m. for the Class AA, Division I championship at Benedict College. Saturday at noon, Northwestern (12-2) and Greenwood (14-0) will vie for the Class AAAA, Division II championship at Williams-Brice, followed by the Class AAAA, Division I title game between Dutch Fork (11-3) and Gaffney (11-3) at 3 p.m. The Class A, Division I and II champions were crowned on Friday at Benedict, with the titles won by Christ Church (14-0) and Cross (11-3), respectively.
Now, area players will turn their attention to a pair of all-star games. First up is the South Carolina Auto Dealers Association North-South All-Star Football game at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach on Dec. 8 at noon. Five players from area schools will be competing on the South squad in that game: Strom Thurmond defensive back Hykeem Brooks, Rebel offensive lineman Montel Webb, South Aiken athlete DeAndre Schoultz, North Augusta athlete Trey Morgan and Yellow Jacket offensive lineman Parker Collins.
Williston-Elko defensive lineman Jahmaya Jenkins will represent the area on the North team.
The Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas will be played on December 15 at 1 p.m. at Wofford University's Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, and three area athletes made the Sandlapper squad that will look to knock of North Carolina's Tarheels. South Aiken offensive lineman Justin Day, a Kentucky commitment, is joined by Strom Thurmond linebacker Aaron Cook and athlete Darius Hammond in that game.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.