South Aiken hadn’t won since October 2009 and carried a 13-game losing streak into its season opener last week.
The Thoroughbreds ended the streak with a convincing 24-7 road win over Richland Northeast. As good as the celebration was Friday night, head coach Jeremy West said the emotional highlight came on Monday morning.
“Especially at school, you could tell a difference,” he said. “The kids are hearing a lot of positive stuff now from their friends and classmates.”
West took over the South Aiken program a year ago, and his team struggled to an 0-11 season. He said a 13-point loss to rival Aiken in the final game of the season served as off-season motivation.
“The big thing was after the Aiken game we had 60 kids in the weight room the next morning ready to go,” he said. “They had been tired of losing, so they were going to do something about it.”
The Thoroughbreds will play their home opener Friday against rival Midland Valley (0-1).
DEFENSE DELIVERS: Class AAA Midland Vallley showed some defensive muscle in its season opener by holding Class AAAA North Augusta to just six first-half points. Midland Valley held a slim lead over the Yellow Jackets early in the second half with linebacker Jamaree Drayton and his 13 tackles leading the stand.
But it was the North Augusta defense that prevailed. The visiting Yellow Jackets shut out Midland Valley in the second half, and Devonte Rouse picked off a Bobby Brown pass and returned the interception 46 yards for the game’s final score in a 25-7 North Augusta win.
HELPING HAND: Silver Bluff’s staunch defense was the deciding factor in its season-opening win at Aiken. The 7-6 victory saw the two teams play to a scoreless tie at halftime, and the big stop for the Bulldogs came in the second half when Aiken lined up for a 44-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Hornets the lead with under four minutes to play.
But Silver Bluff senior Re’kem McCorkle got a hand on the ball after diving into the line of fire from the left side. The blocked kick ensured Silver Bluff’s victory.
RARE RECORDS: Williston-Elko fell to 0-2 for the first time in nine years after suffering a two-point loss to Barnwell. The Warhorses, who beat Blackville-Hilda 40-0 two weeks ago, are 2-0 for the first time in 10 years.
Barnwell went 11-2 in 2001 under head coach Dwayne Garrick, who now coaches at Williston-Elko.
OFFENSIVE WOES: Blackville-Hilda (0-2) lost its first two games by a combined score of 85-0. The Fighting Hawks will open their Region 4-A schedule this week against Fox Creek (2-0).
ROAD WARRIORS: Strom Thurmond (2-0) remained undefeated with a Thursday night win at Laney. It was the first of three consecutive road games for the Rebels during a nonregion stretch that won’t see Strom Thurmond play at home for more than a month.
The Rebels, who opened the season at home with a Week 0 victory over Williston-Elko, won’t play at home against until Silver Bluff comes to town Sept. 23.
Strom Thurmond has won 17 consecutive regular season home games dating back to the 2007 season.