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4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP / DEC. 3, 2011: BYRNES 31, GAFFNEY 24 / MEMORIAL STADIUM / CLEMSON, SC /

GAME DAY youth sports magazine

presents

REBELS ILLUSTRATED

The Champ is Still Here REBELS WIN their 11TH STATE TITLE

special commemorative magazine


GameDay presents: Byrnes Special Commemorative Magazine

REBELS in ACTION

PAMELA DUNLAP PHOTOGRAPHY

Rebels Illustrated

4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

/ DEC. 3, 2011: BYRNES

31, GAFFNEY 24 / MEMORIAL

GAME DAY

STADIUM / CLEMSON, SC

/

REBELS ILLUSTRATED presents

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GameDay presents: Byrnes Special Commemorative Magazine

FANS in the Stands PAMELA DUNLAP PHOTOGRAPHY

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“I studied him (Lattimore) and watched him in practice and the things he did. I tried to carry them over to my game.” Shakeem Wharton Shakeem Wharton gains yardage against Gaffney.

Wharton filled Lattimore’s shoes nicely By JOHN CLAYTON There’s a sports adage that says you don’t want to be the guy who follows THE guy. Who wanted to play center field for the Yankees after Joe Dimaggio? Ray Perkins, an Alabama graduate, succeeded Bear Bryant but could never fill the legendary’s coach’s signature houndstooth fedora. Ask Shakeem Wharton about following former S.C. Mr. Football, then five-star recruit and current South Carolina standout Marcus Lattimore at Byrnes. I did. “I had to fill some very big shoes, but I had to work for my destiny,” Wharton said.

“I had to work for myself and make myself better.” All Wharton did over his final two seasons was rush for 2,944 yards and score 44 touchdowns. With his receiving yards, Wharton had more than 3,700 yards from scrimmage. With him in the backfield fulltime, the Rebels won back-to-back Big 16 state championships. For his senior season, Wharton added 15 pounds of muscle to his 5-foot-9 frame and weighed in at a powerful 215 pounds. Against Gaffney in the championship game, Wharton ran for 100 yards on 26 carries and scored Byrnes’ final touchdown, which proved to be the differnce. Byrnes Assistant Head Coach Bobby

Bentley said Wharton has developed into a solid running back. “He’s a well-rounded player,” Bentley said. “He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but does a really good job in pass protection. I think he’s got a lot of potential at the next level if we can get him in school somewhere.” Wharton said he and Lattimore still talk occasionally and credits the Gamecock standout with helping him become a back more than good enough to follow “THE guy.” “I studied him and watched him in practice and the things he did,” said Wharton, recalling his time as a freshman and sophomore awaiting his turn. “I tried to carry them over to my game.”


Patterson’s legs carried Rebels during title run By JOHN CLAYTON

PAMELA DUNLAP PHOTOGRAPHY

It may very well have been the most eventful couple of weeks in Kaleb Patterson’s young football career. Yes, he won a Big 16 state championship with a 3124 victory over Gaffney at Clemson’s Death Valley, but that’s nothing new to Rebel Nation and their kickers. It was how the Rebels did it and Patterson’s suddenly expanded role, which included running for a first down deep in Gaffney territory on a fake fieldgoal attempt. “I was saying let’s kick the field goal, put some points up and get out of here,” Byrnes Head Coach Chris Miller said of the play that helped swing momentum Byrnes’ way in the title game. “(Assistant head coach) Rick Scott was up top and he said, ‘too late, Coach, we’ve already made the call. I said that’s good that you knew that and I didn’t because I would’ve probPATTERSON ably kicked it, but it worked out. “We go into title games knowing we’re going to do what it takes to win. If we have to run a fake or something, that’s what we’ll do.” The momentum carried over from that game for Patterson, who then appeared in the Shrine Bowl and made an official visit to Miami (Ohio) University, following up on the Redhawks’ full-scholarship offer. “It’s been really great,” Patterson said after the South Carolina’s Shrine Bowl loss to their North Carolina counterparts in the annual all-star game at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium. “It was great to finish up with a win -- I wish we could’ve come out and won here, but things don’t go your way all the time.” Patterson hit his the only extra-point attempt he got to kick in the Shrine Bowl. Two other tries were thwarted by botched snaps. He also averaged 47.1 yards per punt for the game, but had a punt blocked, and his normally booming kickoffs didn’t find the back of the end zone. It was just part of Patterson’s December adventure. “I don’t know what was up with the kickoffs -- it was a little different ball than I’m used to and the wind was fighting me a little bit,” he said.  During his senior season for the Rebels, Patterson was rock steady, recording touchbacks on 75 of 91 kickoffs. He hit 8 of 15 field-goal attempts, breaking his own record with a 54-yarder against Boiling Springs, and connected on 73 of 75 extra-point tries. Special teams was a weak link for MAC champion Miami and the Redhawks quickly made an offer -- and full scholarships are not always afforded kickers.


BYRNES 31, GAFFNEY 24

Rebels played game of their lives By JOHN CLAYTON CLEMSON – One-time state Attorney General James L. Petigru once described South Carolina as “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” That was 1860, and he was talking about secessionists. Football hadn’t even been invented yet, so imagine what he would have to say now. Yes, the state’s peoples are football crazy. We are not defined by secessionists and unionists, gray and blue, these days. We are defined by orange and garnet and then by a spectrum of colors that come together and clash on Friday nights. Those are the games that led us to a Saturday in December

at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium and Frank Howard Field: Byrnes 31, Gaffney 24. It’s just a score that doesn’t bother with the story of how a defending state champion can be a longshot in a title game and how a program with 16 prior Big 16 state championships can produce a team that looked unbeatable for 14 games before faltering in the one that mattered most. But that’s what happened in the Class AAAA Division I (Big 16) championship on the first Saturday in December. Hometown News reporter Jed Blackwell used me as an example prior to kickoff when talking to a colleague. “John Clayton, who has seen more football than I ever have,

CONGRATS, REBELS

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Coaches Chris Miller and Bobby Bentley celebrate with Byrnes players and cheerleaders. will tell you that the game isn’t always won by the best team. It’s won by the best team that day,” he said. Little did anyone within earshot realize a simple statement would become a prediction and then yet another piece of Byrnes football lore. This was the year Byrnes was not supposed to win, and that made it different than most of the others. Remember when Marcus Lattimore, now a star at South Carolina, was running wild in the Rebel backfield? Yes, that team was supposed to win. It didn’t. And in other years, Byrnes was at least even money to bring the state crown back to Duncan. More often than not lately, it became a good bet. More often than not, Byrnes brought home trophies and bragging rights and the Rebels were doing more than whistling Dixie as they went about the business of building a dynasty. But this year? This year there was a sophomore quarterback at the helm. Shakeem Wharton returned to the backfield and there was the usual corps of good receivers for said young quarterback, Shuler Bentley, to throw to. But what about the offensive line? In Big 16 comparison, they were a little smallish. Same up front on the defensive side of the

ball. Were the usual suspects such as Tennessee, Florida State, Clemson and South Carolina drooling as they had in the past? And when it came to Gaffney – unbeaten and largely untested for 14 games this season – who would slow down quarterback Joey Copeland and all-world receiver Quinshad Davis? How would Byrnes do what had to be done? How could the Rebels win a second straight Big 16 title and their third in four seasons? They would have to play the game of their lives – and they did just that. Byrnes head coach Chris Miller said so after the 31-24 victory. Yes, there were the familiar x’s and o’s and matchups and strategies on both sides of the ball. Coaches installed a sound gameplan, but the coaches for both teams were relegated to the sidelines. The players were left to the moment. Some players, some teams, some programs would find that moment too big to grasp. But not Byrnes. The moment was there for them and they rose to it as fans from both schools half-filled Death Valley for one amazing football Saturday. Well, some people would call it amazing – and some might call it crazy.


GameDay presents: Byrnes Special Commemorative Magazine

CELEBRATION PHOTOS / PAMELA DUNLAP PHOTOGRAPHY

Congratulations, Coaches & Players on this, our 11th State Championship. Dallas Sims says “Go Rebels”

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Upstate Game Day_Byrnes Commemorative Edition