December 8 special section

Page 1

POSTAL PATRON LOCAL

PRESORTED PERMIT NO. 97 BEAUFORT, SC 29902

CHAMPS AT LAST! DECEMBER 8–14, 2022

DECEMBER 8–14, 2022 WWW.YOURISLANDNEWS.COM

COVERING BEAUFORT COUNTY

Beaufort High School head football coach Bryce Lybrand holds up the Class 3A State Championship trophy for all to see after the Eagles defeated Powdersville, 41-31, Thursday night in Columbia.

Beaufort wins 1st state championship since 1945

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Story by Mike McCombs | Photo by Bob Sofaly

eventy-seven years is a long time. That’s how long it had been since Beaufort High School had won a state championship in football before Bruce Lybrand’s Eagles knocked off the Powdersville Patriots, 41–31, on Thursday night in Columbia. When Beaufort last won a title, the school’s athletic teams were called the Tidal Wave and it would be a quarter century before integration. It’s

likely most grandparents of the players on this year’s edition of the Eagles weren’t even born. But after state championship game losses in 2007 and then again last year, Kacy Fields and company got the job done this time — without throwing a pass ­— to give the Eagles their first 3A crown and their third title overall (1935, 1945, 2022). Congratulations to the Beaufort Eagles, their fans and their families, past and present.

SEE BOX SCORE, PAGE BFT2 | SEE GAME STORY, PAGE BFT2 | SEE FIELDS HAS IT, PAGE BFT3 | SEE PHOTOS, PAGE BFT4

Congratulations to the State Champion Beaufort High Eagles Football Team

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BEAUFORT 41, POWDERSVILLE 31 BEAUFORT 41, POWDERSVILLE 31 Dec 1, 2022, Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, Benedict College, Columbia, S.C. Powdersville 14 10 7 0 – 31 Beaufort 0 21 13 7 – 41

SUMMARY 1st Quarter PWD—Eli Hudgins 6 run (Nate Spearman kick), 9:17. Drive: 7 plays, 65 yds, 2:43. Powdersville 7, Beaufort 0 PWD—Thomas Williams 25 run (Spearman kick), 5:06. Drive: 7-55, 2:42. Powdersville 14, Beaufort 0 2nd Quarter BFT—Phares 5 run (Jack Troutman kick), 9:35. Drive: 18-82, 7:31. Powdersville 14, Beaufort 7 BFT—Colton Phares 31 run (Troutman kick), 4:28. Drive: 9-74, 3:16. Powdersville 14, Beaufort 14 PWD—Williams 69 run (Spearman kick), 3:34. Drive: 2-69, 0:54. Powdersville 21, Beaufort 14 BFT—Kacy Fields 93 kickoff return (Troutman kick), 03:12. Beaufort 21, Powdersville 21 PWD—Spearman 36 field goal, 00:22. Drive: 8-47, 2:50. Powdersville 24, Beaufort 21 3rd Quarter BFT—Fields 12 run (Troutman kick blocked), 07:34. Drive: 11-66, 4:26. Beaufort 27, Powdersville 24 PWD—Williams 1 run (Spearman kick), 05:00. Drive: 5-56, 2:34. Beaufort 27, Powdersville 31 BFT—Fields 75 run (Troutman kick), 03:35. Drive: 3-81, 1:25. Beaufort 34, Powdersville 31 4th Quarter BFT—Fields 1 run (Troutman kick), 05:36. Drive: 12-57, 5:11. Beaufort 41, Powdersville 31

TEAM STATS

PWD FIRST DOWNS 15 RUSHES-YDS (NET) 38-282 PASSING YDS (NET) 99 Passes Att-Comp-Int 8-4-0 TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YDS 46-381 Fumble Returns-Yds 0-0 Punt Returns-Yds 0-0 Kickoff Returns-Yds 7-83 Interception Returns-Yds 0-0 Punts (Number-Avg) 1-30.0 Fumbles-Lost 2-1 Penalties-Yds 6-54 Possession Time 18:54 Third-Down Conversions 4-8 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-1 Red-Zone Scores-Chances 3-3 Sacks By: No.-Yds 0-0

BFT 23 67-424 0 0-0-0 67-424 0-0 0-0 6-169 0-0 0-0.0 1-1 5-25 29:06 11-15 2-2 3-4 2-22

INDIVIDUAL STATS RUSHING: Powdersville—Thomas Williams 20-236; Eli Hudgins 17-46; Xavier Fowler 1-0. Beaufort—Kacy Fields 37-219; Colton Phares 28-198; Samari Bonds 2-7. PASSING: Powdersville—Eli Hudgins 4-8-0-99. RECEIVING: Powdersville—Elijah Huggins 1-47; Thomas Williams 1-37; Jack Hunsinger 1-9; Kyle Rice 1-6. FUMBLES: Powdersville—Thomas Williams 1-1; Eli Hudgins 1-0. Beaufort—Kacy Fields 1-1. SACKS (UA-A): Powdersville—None. Beaufort—Aaron Lamb 0-1; Quion Rivers 0-1. TACKLES (UA-A): Powdersville—Peyton Little 4-9; Harrison Jeffries 6-3; Jacob Matocha 5-4; Thomas Williams 4-5; Brendan Wertz 3-4; Antony Murphy 2-5; Jack Quarles 4-2; Javier Mills 2-3; Xavier Fowler 2-3; Jaxon Key 3-0; Joshaun Knuckles 2-1; Eli Morgan 1-2; Trez Fowler 1-2; Xavier Mayes 2-0; Drake Sloan 1-0; Cooper Butler 0-1; Christopher Cruell 0-1; Kole Coleman 0-1. Beaufort—Will Codding 5-4; Colton Phares 4-3; Robert Johnson 2-4; Quion Rivers 0-6; Jamar Knight 1-4; Isaac Smalls 3-1; Hart Cushman 2-2; Jeyden Simmons 1-3; Dom Camacho 1-2; Jack Sumner 1-2; Zach Talbert 1-2; Aaron Lamb 0-2; Owen Davis 0-2; Carter Bowersox 1-0; Adrian Lamb 1-0; Team 1-0; James Taylor 0-1.

PLAYER PARTICIPATION Powdersville: 3-ChrstpherCruell, 4-Drake Sloan, 5-Antony Murphy, 6-Trez Fowler, 7-JoshaunKnuckles, 8-Jaxon Key, 9-Nate Spearman, 10-Cooper Butler, 11-HarisonJeffries, 13-Elijah Huggins, 14-Kyle Rice, 15-Eli Morgan, 16-Eli Hudgins, 17-Xavier Mayes, 19-Jacob Matocha, 21-Thomas Williams, 23-Jack Hunsinger, 25-Kole Coleman, 26-Brendan Wertz, 33-Ethan Miller, 34-Xavier Fowler, 41-Javier Mills, 43-Jack Quarles, 44-Peyton Little, 55-PaytonPalomarez. Beaufort: 1-Samari Bonds, 2-Kacy Fields, 5-Will Codding, 8-Carter Bowersox, 9-Dom Camacho, 10-Colton Phares, 14-Owen Davis, 15-Jamar Knight, 21-Isaac Smalls, 23-McLeod Reichel, 25-Jack Sumner, 27-Quion Rivers, 33-Zach Talbert, 38-James Taylor, 40-Robert Johnson, 55-Hart Cushman, 56-Jeyden Simmons, 74-Aaron Lamb, 76-Adrian Lamb, 80-Jack Troutman.

FINAL RECORDS Beaufort 13-1; Powdersville 13-2.

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DECEMBER 8–14, 2022

Beaufort High School head football coach Bryce Lybrand gets the traditional Gatorade bath after his Eagles defeated the Patriots of Powdersville, 41-31, on Thursday in Columbia to become the Class 3A State Champions. Bob Sofaly/The Island News

Beaufort makes history with win over Powdersville

By Wes Kerr LowcoSports.com Bryce Lybrand and the Beaufort Eagles never forgot the feeling of coming up short. From the moment his former mentor snatched the crown away in 2021, Lybrand’s mind was set on taking that last step. Twelve months, 13 wins, and one masterpiece of a season later, the feeling at the final whistle was pure joy. Kacy Fields and Colton Phares combined for 417 yards on the ground, and the Eagles overcame an early 14–0 hole to soar past the Powdersville Patriots, 41-31, on Thursday at Benedict College in Columbia and capture the 2022 SCHSL Class 3A football state championship to secure Beaufort County’s first public school state football title since 1945. “It’s just so cool,” Lybrand said. “They just decided to keep fighting. Everybody did their job, and now we get to say ‘we’re state champions.’” The opening script was all too familiar for the Eagles faithful. Powdersville was ready from the first snap to establish its own dominant ground game. Sparked by electric senior and Virginia Tech commit Thomas Williams, the Patriots marched down the field on their opening drive. Williams used his wheels to break free down the right side for 30 yards, and quarterback Eli Hudgins scampered across the goal line from 6 yards out for the game’s opening score. And just like a week ago at Dillon, the Eagles made a costly mistake on their first offensive series. After some miscommunication on the handoff between Fields and sophomore quarterback Samari Bonds, Joshaun Knuckles forced the ball loose to set

VIDEO

For video highlights from Beaufort’s 41–31 win over Powdersville in the SCHSL Class 3A State Championship game, follow this video link or visit https://youtu.be/ Ir2az47r5zY.

Beaufort’s Kacy Fields high steps behind a key block from lineman Justin Weinberg, center right, during the Class 3A State Championship game against the Powdersville Patriots on Thursday in Columbia. The Eagles went to defeat the Patriots, 41-31. Bob Sofaly/The Island News up Powdersville near midfield and cause the all-important first turnover of the night. And the Patriots cashed in. Williams found a hole up the middle and burst through the Beaufort secondary for a 25-yard score and a 14–0 advantage. The hole was getting deeper, but the Eagles wouldn’t be rattled. Lybrand went right back to a heavy dose of the two runners that brought their team back to Columbia. Beaufort’s drive looked bleak again when Peyton Little and Trez Fowler closed the hole on Fields to force a fourthand-3 at midfield, but Lybrand pulled out some magic from his pocket to extend the drive — and the Eagles’ chances of leaving Columbia satis-

fied. Phares took the snap in punt formation, and the senior star burrowed forward to move the sticks. The trick play stole the momentum right back for Beaufort, as a hard-working Eagles line opened up lanes for its two backs. Phares paid off Lybrand’s gamble on the 18th play of the drive, following his blockers to the outside and extending the ball across the pylon to put the Eagles on the scoreboard at 14–7. Beaufort’s defense came back out with renewed energy, and Hart Cushman stuffed a pair of Patriot runs before Beaufort’s terrific pass rush and secondary forced a pair of incompletions to get the ball right back. Phares picked up right where he left off the last series, bursting

through the Patriot line for a 16-yard gain before he conjured up another moment of magic. The powerful senior back broke an open-field tackle and turned on the jets to outrun a diving Knuckles to the end zone. Just like that, the 14-point deficit was gone. Powdersville was in desperate need of an answer, and the talented Williams came up with one himself. The Hokie commit displayed his superb athletic prowess on the field, taking a toss to the left side and weaving through a horde of Eagle defenders on his way to a highlight-reel 69-yard touchdown run. But just as Beaufort High took another tough punch, Fields dealt an uppercut right back at the Upper State champs. The Patriots pressed their luck with another deep kickoff, and Kacy made them pay. Fields reeled in the ball at his own 7 yard line and bolted down the right side through a swarm of Patriots and to the house to send the Kirkland Krazies wild — and tie up the game at 21. The Eagles left some time for Powdersville at the end of the half, and the Patriots rode the hot hand of Williams to just outside the Beaufort

SEE HISTORY PAGE BFT4


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Beaufort Eagles! S O P R O U D O F YO U ! T R U E C H A M P I O N S !

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BEAUFORT 41, POWDERSVILLE 31

Kacy Fields has ‘it,’ whatever ‘it’ is

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he logos on the shirts and jackets along the Beaufort Eagles’ sideline Thursday night were conspicuous, a smattering of NCAA Division II programs mostly from the middle to upper-middle of the pack. The kind of programs who could scoop up a late-blooming star who slipped through the cracks and end up with a future Harlon Hill Trophy winner who might just help them hoist an elusive national championship trophy. More than a dozen coaches from at least a half-dozen programs watched Kacy Fields do what he has done ever since sliding into the backfield to bolster a Beaufort offense that was built to grind it out on the ground. They watched him pound into the line and drag the pile over and over again, they watched him answer a momentumbuilding Powdersville touchdown with an

JUSTIN JARRETT

a 75-yard touchdown romp that all but sealed the Eagles’ first state championship in 77 years. When the dust settled, Kacy Fields had carried the ball 37 times and piled up 219 yards and three touchdowns, not to mention yet another game-changing play on special teams. He was the darling of the broadcast, the talk of Twitter, and a heroic figure in a historic season for the ages. The breakout star who was finally going to get that avalanche of offers. He’s still waiting. A couple offers trickled

At the beginning of the season, our goal was to come out and win the state championship, not just come back here. We put in the hard work in the weight room, on the football field, we watched film, everything. We put everything into place and now we’re state champions.” – Kacy Fields,

Beaufort running back electrifying 93-yard kickoff return, and they saw him watch a hole evaporate and cut back across the field for

in the day after Fields stole the show along with Appalachian State commit Colton Phares, with Savannah State

and Mars Hill showing love, and a couple more followed from Limestone and North Greenville on Monday, but most of the logos present on the sideline Thursday are still missing from Fields’ offer sheet, and that’s befuddling beyond belief. When a guy rolls up more than 2,200 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns in just 11 games after starting the season as a wide receiver and repeatedly makes eye-popping plays on special teams, wills his team to a state title, carries a 4.19 GPA, and makes his dang coach cry every time he talks about him … and you see it in front of your eyes … what are you waiting for? The “slept-on” story is a common one, and there’s usually an underlying factor that can pretty easily be uncovered — lacking grades or test scores, a selfish attitude that is detrimental to the team, a lack of “want-to,” or a glaring weakness that won’t play at the next level. The “knock” on Fields apparently has been his speed, but we haven’t seen anyone catch him yet when he gets past the second level of the defense, including Powdersville’s terrific Thomas Williams, who is headed to play DB at Virginia Tech. Whatever measure they’re using to assess his speed, it’s busted, because his will play. Another overlooked star from the Lowco has a theory. Ron Parker was once a diamond in the rough at Beaufort High begging for an opportunity to show what he could do. He got a shot at Newberry College, where he’s now in the Hall of Fame, and kept grinding until he had a regular gig with the Kansas City Chiefs. “Ghost” says he never

The last thing a would-be tackler sees before trying to bring down Beaufort’s Kacy Fields is his legendary “stiff arm” to the face, as seen here during the Eagle’s Class 3A State Championship game against Powdersville High School from Greenville. The Eagles bested the Patriots, 41-31, to become the Class 3A state champions. Bob Sofaly/The Island News checked the boxes coaches were looking for either … until the lights went on. “He kinda reminds me of myself just being in that sleeper category, because he’s not really getting the offers and nobody’s really talking about him like that,” Parker says. “But I guarantee you if he would get a shot and somebody gave him a chance to earn a spot on their team, I know he would make it no problem.” Or maybe some coaches view the giant chip on Fields’ shoulder and his direct nature about it as a red flag? Who knows. He did post a preseason edict warning to “watch

how disrespectful I get this season,” but he prefaced it with “don’t mean to be like this,” which is perfectly on brand. A gentleman off the field, a stone-cold killer on it. And most of all, he believes he can, so he will. “I was very eager tonight,” Fields said. “I told you, most underrated player in South Carolina. That chip on my shoulder — I wore it heavy tonight.” Talented football players are a dime a dozen, but the ones who push their potential to the maximum have something that cannot be taught. Former Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel, like many before

him, used to refer to “it,” an undefinable factor only a fraction of players possess. These days, I believe it’s known as “having that dawg in them.” Kacy Fields has it, whatever it is, and he most definitely has a savage beast within. The coaches who missed it better hope they aren’t on the opposing sideline when they finally see it. Justin Jarrett is the sports editor of The Island News and the founder of LowcoSports.com. He was the sports editor of the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette for 6½ years. He has a passion for sports and community journalism and a questionable sense of humor.

Eagles’ biggest fan finally sees state title

REICHEL

Jimmy Searson has been to 612 Beaufort High School football games. Submitted photo.

By Justin Jarrett LowcoSports.com It took 612 games and countless hours in the car, sometimes sniffling through a cold in the stands, but Jimmy Searson finally saw the Beaufort High School football game he so desperately wanted to witness. His beloved Beaufort Eagles are state champs. With a 41-31 win over the Powdersville Patriots in which they imposed their will with an unstoppable running game and locked in on defense to pitch a fourth-quarter shutout, the Eagles claimed the SCHSL Class 3A state title Thursday at Benedict College and ended a 77-year drought, the last five decades of which Searson has taken personally. “I didn’t know if I would ever see a state championship for Beaufort in my lifetime,

but God blessed me with one, and what a game it was,” Searson said. “I still can’t believe it. It’s exciting to finally see them win one.” The fans on Lady’s Island are a loyal bunch, and they can get quite raucous when the Eagles are going good. But no one’s love for the Green & White surpasses Searson’s. He shows up every Friday, decked out in his Beaufort Eagles gear, and can recite an oral history of Beaufort football off the cuff. But if you’re trying to do the math and figuring anyone who has been to 612 high school football games featuring the same team must be pushing triple digits by now, think again. Jimmy started early. He’s only 50, but those games add up quickly when you almost never miss one and your team makes a deep

playoff run just about every season. He’s missed just two games in his lifetime. Searson played in his share of games for the Eagles under coach Greg Hall, a lifelong dream in its own right after spending every fall Friday in the stands cheering for Beaufort as a kid. The connection continued after high school, and even when he moved up the road to Walterboro, Jimmy kept making the trek to see his Eagles every week, near or far. He thought he might see the big one in 2007, when the Eagles lost to Clover in the Class 4A Division II title game, and the hope was doused early in last year’s 41-7 loss to South Pointe, but Jimmy only had to watch 14 more games — including one that was in doubt due to illness — to witness the one he coveted.

“I just knew this group of guys could make it back this year,” Searson said. “Seeing Coach Lybrand and all the coaches and players on the field holding up that championship plaque. Man, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I’ll be celebrating for a long time.” But don’t think this means Jimmy is done attending every Eagles game. “You know, before I leave this Earth I hope to see another one,” Searson said. “But I’m gonna enjoy this one for as long as I can.” Justin Jarrett is the sports editor of The Island News and the founder of LowcoSports.com. He was the sports editor of the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette for 6½ years. He has a passion for sports and community journalism and a questionable sense of humor.

CONGRATULATIONS

#23

to the BHS Eagles on a memorable Championship season!

DECEMBER 8–14, 2022

BFT3


BEAUFORT 41, POWDERSVILLE 31

Head referee Chris Horton chats with the Beaufort High School Eagle mascot Hunter Kerney prior to the start of the Class 3A State Championship game between the Beaufort Eagles and the Powdersville Patriots on Thursday in Columbia. The mascot was not charged with any “fowls” during the game. Bob Sofaly/ The Island News

THE ROAD TO COLUMBIA A game-by-game look at the Beaufort Eagles 2022 season:

led the charge on offense with 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and both the defense and special teams units found the end zone (Colton Phares punt return, Dom Camacho pick-6, Will Keyserling fumble recovery in the end zone) to spoil the Dolphins’ homecoming.

Week 1 – Aug. 26 Fort Dorchester 21, Beaufort 6: The Eagles went toe-to-toe with the No. 2 team in Class 5A for most of the night, pulling within 14-6 on Caleb Ulmer’s 1-yard run to cap an impressive drive late in the third quarter, but the Patriots were able to put away the pesky Eagles for the only blemish on their 2022 record.

Week 9 – Oct. 20 Beaufort 48, North Charleston 8: Kacy Fields carried the ball just 16 times for 240 yards and three TDs, including a 59-yard scoring run to lead the road rout. Samari Bonds also threw TD passes to Thomas Purdy and McCleod Reichel.

Week 2 – Sept. 2 Beaufort 24, Hilton Head Island 7: The Eagles routed a short-handed Seahawks team in an abbreviated contest. The teams agreed to a running clock and eight-minute quarters in the second half after 26 players and four coaches on the HHIHS roster were down with the flu at some point last week. Colton Phares and Caleb Ulmer scored rushing TDs, and Samari Bonds hit Kacy Fields for a TD for the Eagles.

The Beaufort High School Eagles take to the field prior the start of the Class 3A championship game against the Powdersville Patriots on Thursday in Columbia.

Eagles take the crown Photos by Bob Sofaly

A collection of images from Beaufort High’s 41–31 win over Powdersville in the 3A State Championship game on Thursday.

Week 10 – Oct. 28 Beaufort 49, Hanahan 14: Kacy Fields topped 100 rushing yards again and scored three more TDs, and Colton Phares scored on a 69-yard run and a punt return to help the Eagles clinch the Region 8-3A title. Samari Bonds added a pair of touchdown runs for the Eagles.

Week 3 – Sept. 9 Beaufort 6, Goose Creek 0: Colton Phares booted field goals of 24 and 35 yards and helped anchor a dominant defensive effort on a soggy night on Lady’s Island. Phares’s first-quarter field goals proved to be enough for a nasty Beaufort defense, which came up with a fourth-down stop inside the 5 before halftime and sealed it with a Carter Bowersox interception in the final two minutes.

Class 3A Playoffs – Nov. 4 Beaufort 52, Orangeburg-Wilkinson 0: Samari Bonds threw three TD passes and rushed for another score, and Kacy Fields added two more TDs to power the Eagles to a blowout win at home. Bonds hit Colton Phares for a pair of scores and connected with McLeod Reichel for another, and Caleb Ulmer capped the scoring with a TD run.

Week 4 – Sept. 16 Beaufort 13, May River 7: Kacy Fields rushed for more than 150 yards and scored two second-half touchdowns to propel the Eagles to a hard-fought road win in a defensive struggle. The Beaufort defense blanked May River after its opening drive.

Class 3A Playoffs – Nov. 11 Beaufort 45, Crestwood 42: Kacy Fields scored three second-half rushing touchdowns to go with a kickoff return score in the first half as the Eagles clawed out of an 18-point hole to hold off visiting Crestwood and advance to the third round of the Class 3A playoffs.

Week 5 – Sept. 23 Beaufort 55, Bluffton 23: Kacy Fields rushed for 341 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries to power the Eagles. Samari Bonds was 10-for-15 for 150 yards and connected with Colton Phares five times for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

With a 10-point lead and less than a minute to play, Beaufort High School head football coach Bryce Lybrand is all smiles after the final time out during the Class 3A State Championship game.

Beaufort’s Colton Phares, right, spins away from the Powdersville defender and gains extra yards during the first half of the Class 3A State Championship game Thursday night in Columbia.

Class 3A Playoffs – Nov. 18 Beaufort 31, Gilbert 21: Colton Phares put the Eagles ahead for good with an 89-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter before picking off a pass, and Kacy Fields added two touchdown runs to help Beaufort defeat the Indians and make a second consecutive appearance in a state semifinal.

Week 6 – Sept. 29 Beaufort 34, Phillip Simmons 14: Kacy Fields had another monster game, rushing for 271 yards and four TDs on 26 carries — and he was named homecoming king — to lead the Eagles to an impressive win in their Region 8-3A opener. Samari Bonds was 7-of-9 passing for 101 yards and added 33 yards and a TD on three carries.

Class 3A Lower State Championship – Nov. 25 Beaufort 30, Dillon 21: Kacy Fields rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns and Colton Phares added 161 yards and a TD on the ground as Beaufort’s powerful ground game and dominant defense ended perennial power Dillon’s season with its first loss. – LowcoSports.com

Week 7 – Oct. 7 Beaufort 37, Battery Creek 7: Kacy Fields

History

found pay dirt on the 11th play with a 12-yard run to the end zone. Phares set it up with a textbook block, and Fields used his elite speed to cruise in on the left side for his first rushing score of the game. Beaufort’s defense came back out firing with a huge sack from Aaron Lamb and Quion Rivers, but the Patriots quickly found another moment of brilliance. And this time, they did it through the air. Carter Bowersox arrived in the backfield quickly to put pressure on Hudgins, but the junior quarterback showed off his tremendous arm and slung a missile to Elijah Huggins who made a brilliant catch in traffic inside the Beaufort 10. Williams paid off the big play with a one-yard surge into the end zone, and the Patriots were back in front at 31–27. Three plays later, it was Kacy’s turn again. On a clutch third-and-4 at his own 25, Fields followed

from page BFT2 20, but Phares was there to knock the football away from Drake Sloan to hold Powdersville to a Nate Spearman field goal and a 24–21 halftime margin. The Eagles went to the locker room down by three, but their belief in the season’s final 24 minutes couldn’t have been higher. “I told them at halftime, we got ‘em right where we want ‘em,” Lybrand said. “We’ve been down in every other game, so why not this one?” With a chaotic second half looming, the Eagles knew that their opening drive would be crucial. And they executed it perfectly to nab their first lead of the game. After several strong runs from both Fields and Phares alongside hard-nosed blocking from Beaufort’s veteran line, Fields

Beaufort High School students, also known as Kirkland’s Krazies, celebrate after their Eagles defeated the Powdersville Patriots. his blockers up the middle and quickly switched into high gear, shrugging off a pair of tacklers before cruising to the goal line without a Patriot in sight. It was the most dominant run yet in the biggest game of his career. With the lead back in hand, the Eagles knew that one stop on defense could be the difference. As the fourth quarter dawned upon Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, the Eagles dug even deeper and shut the Patriots down. Williams took the carry on a pivotal fourth-and-two, and a swarm of hungry Eagles burst through the line to end the drive – and put the Lower State champs in command. Beaufort promptly began to chew away clock on the ground, and the Patriots had no answer for either Fields or Phares. After 11 methodical runs and five minutes off the clock, Fields delivered the final blow. Stationed under center, Fields took the direct snap

from the 1 as his teammates pushed him across. The lead swelled to 41–31, and the Eagles began to feel it. With less than six minutes left to play, Powdersville needed a show-stopper from its stars to stay in it. But it was the Beaufort defense that delivered the encore and closed the curtain on a season of legend. Dom Camacho dislodged the ball from Hudgins as he dropped back, but the junior quarterback recovered and incredibly found Williams as he looked to sprint upfield. Suddenly, Bowersox came charging in, stripped the ball, and secured it himself. It was a play that epitomized the heart of Beaufort’s defense — and the entire team. The Eagles got the football back, and this time they kept it for good. With an offside call on fourth down and two more clutch conversions from Fields, Beaufort’s long-awaited celebration began. Fields

was promptly given the game ball and skipped across the field with a beaming smile stretched from ear to ear. The grind had paid off. The Eagles had done it. “At the beginning of the season, our goal was to come out and win the state championship, not just come back here,” Fields said. “We put in the hard work in the weight room, on the football field, we watched film, everything. We put everything into place and now we’re state champions.” Fields concluded a sensational senior year with a spectacular finale, rushing 37 times for 219 yards and three touchdowns alongside a 93yard kick return. Phares was a warrior on the field, adding 198 rushing yards and two scores, while making seven tackles on defense with a key pass breakup. Will Codding led the Eagle defense with nine tackles, and both Robert Johnson and Rivers put up six stops. Wil-

liams paced Powdersville with 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. The Eagles came away with the victory without attempting a single pass play in the game. During the season, Bryce Lybrand gave each of his players a wristband with a simple but powerful message: “Great to Greatest.” On Thursday night, those young men accomplished that mission and cemented a legacy on Lady’s Island — and in the Lowcountry — that will never be forgotten. “We challenged them to go from being a great Beaufort High football team to the greatest Beaufort High football team,” Lybrand said. “Every week they answered the bell, and I’m just so proud of them.” Wes Kerr is a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School and Davidson College. He reports on local sports for LowcoSports.com

CONGRATULATIONS to the Beaufort Eagles on their State Championship WIN!

We are so proud of the coaches and team!

888-701-1717 | www.meritushomes.com | Visit our office at 202 Carteret Street, Beaufort BFT4

DECEMBER 8–14, 2022