It took three head coaches for two local high school football powers to meet again.
With one-year deals from 2012 leaving an open spot in 2013, North Augusta and Strom Thurmond needed another game. It was tough enough to find a team, let alone one close, Rebels coach Lee Sawyer said. That’s when Silver Bluff coach Al Lown agreed to move his team’s game against Strom Thurmond to Week Zero; the Rebels and Bulldogs have usually played the fifth game of the year.
Problem solved. Bring on North Augusta-Strom Thurmond.
“Since we played, both teams have been a play or two from the state championship game,” Sawyer said. “It’s going to prepare both teams for the playoffs. It should be a late November-type atmosphere.”
The two programs have been among the state’s elite lately. North Augusta has gone 49-10 going back to 2009. Strom Thurmond has also been a force, winning 48 games during the same stretch, and earning a state championship in 2005.
Both teams have done nothing but win this season, with the Yellow Jackets 5-0 and every win coming by at least 28 points. The Rebels’ margins have been closer, but Strom Thurmond is unbeaten at 4-0.
Strom Thurmond’s offense scores with Jauveer Hammond’s dual-threat ability and other key pieces.
North Augusta brings its own potent attack led by Trib Reece, who’s already thrown for 1,000 yards, and a strong running back tandem of Willie McCloud and Dashawn Barnes that’s approaching 1,000 rushing yards.
Tonight’s game will test which team has the more playoff-ready defense.
“It starts with having good kids who are in pretty good shape and are strong. And we got a pretty good scheme – coordinator Derrick Quinn does a good job,” Yellow Jackets coach Dan Pippin said. “I really learned my first year in North Augusta, don’t do too much and keep things as simple as possible. Let them be fast and run to the football.”