JOHNSTON, S.C. - Coco Hillary has found one final way to scare every Strom Thurmond opponent this year. His No. 7 will again be dropping back in the pocket, ready to blister a defense with the arm or the legs.
The big news out of the early workouts for the defending Class AAA state champions was a Hillary would be back at quarterback.
But No. 7 will be on the chest of junior Aramis Hillary, who snagged the family number as the new Strom Thurmond quarterback.
"Coco made me do it," said Aramis, who was an All-Area receiver last year. "My brother said I had to wear his jersey. It was his call."
Some might see him and wonder if that Hillary kid will ever graduate. But this Hillary is four inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than his brother.
"I told him he had to keep the Hillary tradition going," said Coco, who is a freshman quarterback at Appalachian State. "That number seven runs in our family. He had to wear it."
"(Coco) told me a lot," Aramis said. "He said to just do what I do, go with my strengths, not his. I'm more patient in the pocket. I'll hang in there and wait for a play to come together. Coco would see something unfold and make it happen on his own. Not many guys can do that. But I've got my own thing."
That's one set of expectations for the 6-foot-2 Aramis. The family name at quarterback isn't the easiest to live up to.
Another older brother, Antwaun, was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Rebels and was a Dream 16 selection in his senior season of 1999. Uncle Ira, who played in the NFL, and a cousin, Tony, also played quarterback for the team.
Coco was The Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year last season after throwing for 18 touchdowns and running for another 20 scores. A solid junior year for Aramis could mean a third Dream 16 for the family.
"There weren't many quarterbacks in the state who compare to Coco," Strom Thurmond coach Lee Sawyer said. "Aramis doesn't need to live up to that his first year. He just needs to be as good as the other quarterback across the field to give us a chance to win each week. That's it. We won't ask him to do it all."
Aramis looked ready on the first day of summer strength testing. He bench pressed 270 pounds. It's also a sign of what he might do when he sees a defender standing in the way of a first down.
"My brother would fake that guy out of his socks," Aramis said. "I can use my size. I may try a move or I might lower my head and run over somebody."
Coco had another hand in his development. He put up the points in blowout wins. It allowed Aramis to hit the field with the second team for some experience.
"He picked it up pretty well," Coco said. "Aramis is smart. He can read defenses, and by the end of last year he looked like he had our offense down. Just watch. He's going to make a lot of plays for the Rebels this fall."
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.