Strom Thurmond bringing back enough stars to think big



JOHNSTON, S.C. — The numbers say it would be easier to notice who is no longer at Strom Thurmond.

With only four starters back on offense and defense, the always-strong Rebels program will field a young team this season. But Strom Thurmond has the star power that could possibly mask concerns as it looks to continue the winning tradition.

In 2012, the Rebels went 12-2 and reached the Class AAA state semifinals. It was the fifth year in a row Strom Thurmond won at least 10 games in a season.

“We’ve been fortunate. We’ve had it rolling for a long time now,” coach Lee Sawyer said. “I just think those expectations should be there – from us as a staff, from us as a program, from the community.”

Those lofty expectations are present this season, which will likely see quarterback Jauveer Hammond post big numbers. As a junior, Hammond passed for nearly 1,700 yards and rushed for close to 1,300. In his first game as a starter, he had almost 300 offensive yards.

Chad Gilchrist, Delonta Bates and Jauveer Hammond are dangerous running backs.

Though the Rebels will also have a new offensive line, the quarterback should keep offensive worries minimal despite just the four returning starters.

“Normally that should be a problem, but as long as one of those four is your quarterback, at least you got experience there. He’s going to touch the ball every play,” Sawyer said.

There’s at least one starter back on every level on defense, including linebacker Kenyatta Dunbar and lineman Lyndon Lowery.

“Our coaches coach us up so well,” Lowery said. “We have no choice but to execute and pursue the ball – all 11 hats to the ball.”

With those familiar faces popping up in important parts, Strom Thurmond isn’t shying away from dreaming of another big season.

“We try to build on that tradition,” Sawyer said. “ ‘Are you going to do what it takes to do what this team did? And the team before that?’ We build on our history and tradition.”


Watch for The Augusta Chronicle’s prep preview section on Sunday, which will include pages on each of the Dream 16 selections, team capsules and schedules.