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Editorial: Fall’s a great time to support our football teams

  • Photo courtesy Carmen Pinckney/Special to JCST

We finally have a taste of fall weather — even a little frost covered our windshield — and the cool conditions have us thinking about one of the joys of the season: playoff football.

Beginning Friday night, two of our county’s teams begin quests for South Carolina Independent School Association Class A state championships.

Thomas Heyward Academy won the Region 2-A regular-season crown – its first region title since 2007 – and enters the postseason as a top seed and on a seven-game winning streak.

The Rebels (8-2) will host fourth-seeded Christian Academy.

John Paul II Catholic School, in its second season of 11-man football, earned a No. 4 seed and will visit Dillon Christian. Both games are 7:30 p.m.

If the teams win, they’ll advance to state semifinals Nov. 10. The state final is Nov. 18.

It’s an exciting time.

The Rebels, who haven’t lost since the first day of September, entered the season with 21 underclassmen, but their veterans have complemented the youth. They are in the playoffs for the third straight season, led by one of the state’s top offenses.

John Paul (6-4), with its 17 underclassmen, has been led by seven Jasper County residents, including Zach Doe, who leads the state in rushing yards and touchdowns.

The on-field statistics and accomplishments are impressive, but we’ve also been pleased all season with the support from the schools’ fan bases. From parents to students to administrators and community fanatics, the atmosphere at Thomas Heyward home games at Harvey-Beach Stadium in Ridgeland and John Paul contests at the Richard Gray Sports Complex in Hardeeville has often been electric.

The support hasn’t gone unnoticed. Here’s John Paul II athletic director Matt Dakolios on the excitement.

“There is absolutely a buzz around the school,” Dakolios said. “Being a small school, the football players, like all of our students, are so much more than football players, they are ingratiated in so many facets of the community. Everyone is behind them, and their growth is a microcosm for the buzz around all athletics, and surrounding the overall growth of the school. Football, more than other programs, can put a spotlight on your school, and their growth has mirrored the growth, excitement and overall success of the school.”

Thomas Heyward headmaster Marilyn Davis is proud of the school’s combined 28 state championships in all sports and hopes the Rebels can make a run at their eighth football state title.

“Although THA fans have always been extremely supportive, there is definitely a heightened level of excitement in the air,” she said. “A strong sense of unity can be felt throughout the school as we rally for the next win.”

Let’s all continue the support. Good luck, Rebels and Golden Warriors.

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