A look back at the top sports stories from 2017 | Sports | The Press and Standard

by | January 3, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: January 3, 2018 at 9:56 am

By CINDY CROSBY
cindyc4@yahoo.com

1. SIGNED. SEALED. DELIVERED.
Colleton County Cougar Baseball captures Region 8-AAAA Championship, District VIII Championship and advances to game two in the Lower-State Playoffs
April 22, 2017. It is a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Cougar Park where it is a packed house for the final region game of the season against Berkeley. At stake for the Cougars — a win earns them the Region 8-AAAA Championship and assures them the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
In addition, should they win the region title, it would be the first time in the history of Colleton County High School and the first time in 26-years for the county’s public school.
It is the bottom of the eighth inning and the score is tied at four, with two outs and runners on first and second. Senior Kaleb Gibson steps in the batter’s box. With a 1-1 count, Gibson comes through, sending a well-hit ball to left field.
Standing on second base is senior right fielder Josh Kinard, who reached on an earlier hit to center field and was moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Cody Cox. With the crack of the bat, Kinard takes off toward third and sees Coach Jermale Paige waving him around.
In a cloud of swirling red dust at home plate, Kinard slides head-first into home as the ball is relayed in from the cutoff. The throw, slightly off, goes wide and bounces. Kinard pops to his knees, tosses his helmet in the air, points heavenward, then goes to his back, split seconds before his teammates descend upon him.
Colleton County’s 5-4 win over Berkeley, clinched the Region 8-AAAA Championship and put Coach Jermale Paige and the 2017 Edition of the Cougars in the history book for CCHS. The Cougars finished the regular season at 12-9 overall and 8-2 in region competition.
Cougar Baseball marched undefeated through the district playoff bracket, earning the District VIII Championship with a 7-2 win over Lower Richland and back to back wins over Lugoff-Elgin (2-0, 4-2).
In the Lower-State Playoff bracket, Colleton County earned a 2-0 win over Hilton Head in game one, but was eliminated following a 4-1 loss to AC Flora and a 2-0 loss to Hilton Head.
AC Flora went on to be crowned the AAAA State Champions in an 8-1 win over South Pointe.

2. A “Paige” in the history books for Cougar Baseball
In his first year at the helm of the Cougar baseball program, Coach Jermale Paige put Cougar baseball back on the radar in the Lowcountry, proving winning is still very viable. Paige, along with his assistant coaches Mike Monnet, Paul Pye, Matt Rhodes and Russell Polk, led the Cougars to a 16-11 overall record and an 8-2 finish in Region 8-AAAA, capturing the Region Championship for the first time in the history of Colleton County High School.
Paige and his Cougars then marched undefeated through the district playoff bracket, earning the District VIII Championship before being eliminated in round two of the Lower-State Playoff bracket.
Since the end of the season, Coach Jermale Paige was named Region 8-AAAA Coach of the Year by the South Carolina High School League.
Under the leadership of Coach Jermale Paige, the Cougar Baseball team gave this community a lot to be proud of in 2017. Many long-lasting memories were made at Cougar Park and stories from the history-making season will be talked about and retold for years to come.

3. CCHS Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Search
One of the top sports stories of 2017 revolved around the search for the head football coach and athletic director for Colleton County High School. Chris Collins confirmed on Jan. 6, 2017, that he was reinstated as a teacher at Colleton County High School but would no longer serve as the CCHS athletic director or head football coach for the Cougars.
Following a nearly seven-week candidate search, which included final rounds of committee interviews, the CCSD announced on Feb. 27, 2017, that the decision had been made to split the athletic director and head football position into two separate jobs.
The following official statement was issued:
“As you are aware, the district initially advertised them as a combined position. After much consideration and feedback throughout the initial process, I feel it is in the best interest of our overall athletic program to separate the responsibilities into two positions,” said Dr. Franklin Foster, CCSD superintendent, in the release. “The director of district athletics will oversee all aspects of the athletic program and the head varsity football coach will focus on leading our football program with teaching responsibilities.”
One of the two confirmed finalists in the process was Coach Dan Morgan. Morgan later accepted the head coaching job at Eastside High School where he posted an 11-2 season – the best in 40-years for Eastside.
After posting the jobs separately and going through the interview process for the second time, the CCSD announced March 21, 2017, Leon Hammond (then CCHS physical education teacher and JV boys’ basketball coach) would be the athletic director for Colleton County High School. Coby Peeler, then teaching social studies and serving as head wrestling coach and assistant football coach at Greer High School, was named as the Cougars’ new head football coach. The Cougars posted a 4-7 overall record and went 2-3 in Region 8-AAAA.

4. Craig Grant makes a lot of noise in the 2017 Colleton County Cougar Football Record Book
Colleton County Cougar senior quarterback Craig Grant Jr. finished with a career passing record of 5325 passing yards and 52 touchdowns. He will hold multiple records in the history book for Colleton County including:
Most Touchdown Passes in One Game –six vs. Beaufort High School
Most Touchdowns in a Season –CCHS, 40 touchdowns
Most Passing Touchdowns in a Season –CCHS, 28 touchdowns
Most Passing Yards in a Single Season –CCHS, 2,952 yards
Most Passing Yards in a Single Game –CCHS, 472 yards vs. Beaufort
Most Individual Total Yards in a Single Season –CCHS, 3600 total passing and rushing yards
In addition, Grant was selected to the 2017 Touchstone Energy Cooperative North-South Bowl held Dec. 9 at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach.

5. Jacob Smith named Region 8-AAAA Basketball Coach of the Year
Colleton County’s boys’ basketball coach Jacob Smith was named Region 8-AAAA Coach of the Year. Smith, in his first year at the helm of the Cougars’ program, posted a 15-10 overall record and went 7-3 in region competition to claim runner-up for the region title. Colleton County earned a playoff spot for the first time since 2005-06, but was eliminated in round one following a 67-60 loss against Hartsville.
In first season as head coach, Smith led the Cougar Tennis team to a 3-8 overall record and 2-6 finish in Region 8-AAAA, earning a berth in the playoffs. The Cougars, seeded at No. 4, were eliminated following a 6-0 loss to the No. 1 seed, Darlington High School.

6. Indians home win streak alive at 24 through 2017
The Salkehatchie Indians home win streak remains alive through 2017. Heading into Christmas break, the Indians have 24 consecutive wins in front of the home crowd and will host Richard Bland Saturday Jan. 6 in a non-conference match-up.
Former Indian’s head coach Corey Hendren accumulated 18 straight home wins before accepting an assistant’s position at USC-Aiken. The Indians’ newly named coach, Jake Williams, has kept the streak alive this season – tacking on six more consecutive home wins.

7. Lady Cougar Soccer Upsets No. 1 seed in Round One of AAAA playoffs
The Lady Cougar Soccer team, seeded in the No. 4 spot in the SCHSL AAAA Lower-State playoffs, upset the No. 1 seed Lugoff-Elgin to advance to round two. In doing so, the Lady Cougars laid claim to be the first Colleton County soccer team, male or female, to advance into the SCHSL Lower State Quarter Finals in post-season play.
Colleton County and Lugoff-Elgin stayed scoreless in regulation and would then be forced into two 10-minute overtime periods. Faith Allen found the breakthrough goal in the second overtime, then Amiyah Robinson scored a comfort goal soon after to put Colleton County up 2-0.
The Lady Cougars combined for a record 23 tackles in the game. Keeper, Rachel Dandridge had 10 saves.
Eliminated in round two of the playoffs, Colleton County finished their 2017 campaign with an overall record of 14-6 and 5-5 in Region 8-AAAA – scoring 87 goals on the season and allowing only 44.

8. Splash Pad included in Colleton County Recreation Complex renovation and expansion
Colleton County began the renovation and expansion of the 54-year-old Colleton County Parks and Recreation Complex in 2017. The project, designed by Clark Patterson Lee of Columbia, was slated to begin around Sept. 1, 2017 and be finished the summer of 2018 about 330 days after the Notice to Proceed has been issued.
The $3,220,000 project is part of the Colleton County Capital Projects Penny Sales Tax — a funding mechanism to address the critical capital project needs of Colleton County and its municipalities, to improve quality of life and encourage economic development.
The Capital Projects Sales Tax is expected to generate $31.6 million over an eight-year period, to address 13 projects, totaling $29,700,757.
The renovation and expansion of the Recreation Complex includes adding approximately 12,949 square feet of new construction including a splashpad, a new fitness facility, basketball court/gym and office space, along with a 16,802-square-foot renovation of the current gym, restrooms, administrative office space and assembly rooms.
The splash pad, a water play area with no standing water, will be built in front of the current Recreation Center, on the left side closest to the ACE Basin Sports Complex and near the restrooms, situated outside the gates entering the park. The pad, itself, will be approximately 24 X 24 (feet) and feature tumble buckets and water jets.

9. (tie) Playoff Bound
Both Colleton Prep Academy and Colleton County High School saw many teams earn playoff bids through out 2017 including:
CPA – Lady Hawk Basketball, Lady Hawk Softball, Lady Hawk Tennis, Lady Hawk Volleyball, War Hawk Football
CCHS – Lady Cougar Basketball, Cougar Basketball, Cougar Baseball, Cougar Tennis, Lady Cougar Soccer, Lady Cougar Softball, Lady Cougar Volleyball, Lady Cougar Tennis, Cougar Football, Lady Cougar Cross County, Band of Blue finished 12th in AAAA.

9. (tie) Coaching Changes
Coaching changes abounded in 2017 with the following varsity teams naming new head coaches, some mid-season:
CPA – Boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball (Charlie Brown), baseball (Cody Mincey), softball (Open), tennis (Sandy Smith), cheerleading (Shelby Guess)
CCHS – Football (Coby Peeler), boys’ tennis (Jaymie Strickland), boys’ soccer (Ben Crutcher), cheerleading (Meagan Driggers)

10. Ponytails go undefeated in District VI, finish 1-2 in the Dixie Traditional Softball State Championship
The Colleton County Ponytails were eliminated from the Dixie Ponytails Traditional Softball State Championship Monday July 17 in Marion. They did not go down without a fight, however, losing to Myrtle Beach 10-7 in extra innings. After going undefeated in the District VI competition, Colleton County finished 1-2 in the state tournament with a win over Marion (11-8).
“On behalf of the team, I’d like to express our appreciation to the community for the amazing support they gave us — it was truly mind-blowing,” said Voss. “We only had 10 days to raise money for the tournament, and in fine fashion, the businesses and community of Colleton County came through for us. We had enough money to stay in Marion for the entire time without any of these girls having to room together. So, a huge thank you to everyone who gave what they could to help us. We wish we could have gone farther – but it just wasn’t in the cards for us.”
The Ponytail’s All-Star roster included: Makayla Chisolm, Mackenzie Pellum, Anslie Murdaugh, Makayla Voss, Shandi Brown, Lana Catterton, Shelby Haley, Jewel Chambers, Brianna Banks, Peyton Taylor, Shamiah Chaney and Christasia Holmes. Coaches include Voss, Scott Catterton, Chris Holmes and Richard Haley.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Lady Hawk Softball Co-Region Champs
The Colleton Prep Varsity Softball team earned the SCISA Region 4-AA Co-Champion title after splitting games with Thomas Heyward Academy. The Lady Hawks finished 3-1 in the three-team region with the Rebels and John Paul II and finished the 2017 campaign with an outstanding 21-5 overall record.

Colleton County will remain in AAAA for 2018-20
Colleton County High School will remain in AAAA through 2018-20 following votes by the directors of Class AAAA and Class AAAAA. As part of the deal, Stall High School will switch with Colleton County and take their spot in Region 8-AAAAA. This decision means Colleton County will compete in a four-team bracket with Beaufort High School, Bluffton High School and Hilton Head High School in an all-sport classification.

Gone, but not forgotten. CCHS retires Rashee Hodges No. 24 jersey
Colleton County High School retired the No. 24 jersey of deceased basketball standout, Rashee Hodges. Dr. Melissa Crosby, Principal of Colleton County High School and Coach Perry Smalls presented the Hodges family with a shadow-box framed No. 24 Colleton County Cougar jersey in his memory.
Hodges, a beloved member of the Class of 2013, was killed in a hit-and-run accident in southeastern Richland County. Then 22-years-old, Hodges was attending Benedict College in Columbia, where he signed a basketball scholarship last to play for the Tigers following a successful career at Salkehatchie.

20-Years Later: Bulldogs RULE and REUNITE
The 1997 Walterboro Bulldogs State Championship Football team was honored this fall for their 20th anniversary of their historic win over Hartsville (28-27) in the Division II-AAAA State Championship held Dec. 5, 1997 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

Lady Cougar Cross-Country team qualifies for AAAA State Championship – finishes 13th
After a fourth-place finish in the SCHSL AAAA Lower-State Championships, the girls cross-country team qualified to advance to the State Championships held Nov. 4, 2017. They finished 13th out of 20 teams competing. The Lady Cougars were paced by Abigail Altman and Grayson Altman.

Tyrese Pressey wins AAAA Lower-State Wrestling title
Colleton County High School sophomore, Tyrese Pressey, earned the AAAA Lower-State Wrestling title in the 182-lb weight classification in the SCHSL Individual Lower-State Championships held Feb. 21, 2017 at Chapin High School.

Strickland named Region 8-AAAA Tennis Coach of the Year
Coach Jaymie Strickland, Colleton County High School Boys’ Tennis, has been named Region 8-AAAA Tennis Coach of the Year by the South Carolina High School League.

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