Some things will probably never change.
August will always signal the start of high school football. The Barnwell community will always fill the bleachers W.W. Carter Field. And the Warhorses will always take part in the Barnwell County trifecta of a rivalry – competing against the county's other two high schools.
For a county made up of small towns like Blackville, Elko, Hilda and Williston, there's big-time passion for football. It's usually a must-see when Barnwell, Williston-Elko and Blackville-Hilda hit the field to take on each other.
"Football is a big deal in those small towns," Barnwell head coach Dwayne Garrick said. "You're playing against cousins and a lot of people that are related to each other. It's a good atmosphere and always fun games."
Garrick has knowledge on all sides of the county rivalry. He got his start in high school coaching as an assistant at Blackville-Hilda under David Berry after spending time as a graduate assistant at S.C. State. He then took an assistant coaching job at Barnwell and eventually became the head coach in the late 90s. That was followed by a successful stint at Williston-Elko in which he led the Blue Devils to a state championship in 2009, and now he has Barnwell back in the discussion as one of the best Class AA teams in the state.
Garrick has fond memories of being on the sideline in Barnwell County on Friday nights that go beyond just the wins. He recalled a game between Williston-Elko and Blackville-Hilda which he estimated had a couple thousand people in attendance, which is quite a feat for a Class A football game.
"All three are rich in football tradition and have won their share of championships," Garrick said. "Every time you play against each other, your going to get that team's best effort."
As for the the 2018 Barnwell County rivalry, Barnwell High is off to a good start. The Warhorses opened the season with a 54-6 victory against the Blue Devils. Now the Warhorses turn their sights to the Hawks this week.
Barnwell leads series with Blackville-Hilda 34-21. The two teams have traded win streaks since the early 2000s. Blackville-Hilda won nine consecutive games from 2002 through 2010. Barnwell is in the midst of a seven-game win streak in the series that dates back to 2011.
"Leading up to the games it's a lot of trash talking between the towns, so forth and so on, but it's all good at the end," Garrick said.