By Craig Brown
The Dillon High School Wildcat 2017 3A 15-0 State Champions Football Team was honored Sunday at 4 p.m. at the new District Four Auditorium with players, coaches, and managers receiving rings and cheerleaders receiving pendants.
It was my first visit to the auditorium and Johnnie Daniels second visit. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. A beautiful stage catches the visitor’s attention right off. The generous seating should be more than adequate for events in Dillon. This is one building the citizens of Dillon should be proud of.
Athletic Director and Wildcat Head Coach Jackie Hayes welcomed all guest to the event. Wildcat football is famed throughout the state of South Carolina and well known in parts of North Carolina as well. You don’t ask when was the last time the Wildcats won a State Championship but rather when was the last time they did not win.
In fact Coach Hayes reminded the guest that the Wildcats had played in nine of the last ten championship games winning seven of these matches. Coach Hayes called on the Coach Jason Gunter to give the Invocation. The Invocation was followed by a video highlighting plays of the perfect 15 and zero football season.
Assistant Coach Jamie Norris put the video together with the assistance of videographer, William Epps and DJ, Johnny McCrimmon. I am old school and believe in the late Wolf Man Jack’s statement that music was born on January first 1955 and died on December 31, 1969. With the hard hitting Wildcat video action I would have preferred Wipe-Out as the musical background for the video. But, with the exception of Coach Gunter most of the people associated with the Wildcat football program were not even born until after 1969 so they likely would disagree with me.
Anyway the young people were really into the video and it was well produced. After the video Coach Hayes wanted to recognize various people that had helped to make the season such a success. Dillon District Four Superintendent D. Ray Rogers and Dillon High School Principal Timothy Gibbs were personally thanked by Coach Hayes for their tireless efforts in supporting the team. Coach Hayes added that Dillon District School Board Members, Ethel Taylor, Earl Gleason Jr., Burt Rogers, Kenneth Bethea, Mike McRae, Alex Lewis and Famon Whitfield, Jr. along with Dillon County School Board Members, Richaed Schafer, Timmie Faulk, Ann Calhoun, Sylvia Griffin, Robert Abson,Jr., Jimmy Sweat, Jr., Nancy G. Finklea, James C. McRae and Betty Jo Johnson had been more than supportive to the football program. Coach Hayes wanted the following persons recognized for the support and contributions.
Adrian Wright and Kevin McLellan that direct the Marching Cats Band, the teachers and staff of Dillon High School, Now retired resource officer, Marion Ford, booster club president, Ronnie Herring and the booster club members, chain gang and tunnel crew, Jimbo McLellen, George Shelton, Alex Lewis, Steve Zander, Gene Hill, Roger Cox and Bobby Meekins, fireworks, Jerry Douglas, broad cast both and statistics, Lonnie Turner, Jimmy Bohachic and Charles Lane, Tuesday football meals, Kathryn Thompson, team parents, Martha ‘Mott’ German and Maurice Bethea, stadium maintenance, Keith Newell and Dillon Four maintenance, video and website, Coach Jamie Norris, videographer, William Epps, DJ Johnny McCrimmon, Assistant AD Zach Hayes and team doctors, Dr. Phil Wallace, Dr. Nicholas Wallace, Dr. Kem Stanton and Dr. Michael Sutton.
Before presenting the rings and pendants, Coach Hayes thanked the parents of the players and cheerleaders for their added support. Coach Hayes ask the recipients of the awards not to open their boxes or cheer until all of the awards were given out. Wildcat Cheerleaders were called to the stage first. Reyanna Arnette, janasha Bethea, Jua’Myia Bethea, Charity Cain, Tykaijha Floyd, Ashley McDougal, Geronda McLeod, Qy’Tasia Smith, Danasha Townsend, Ambrea Washington, mascot A’Donoshia Graves and Cheerleader Coach, Korriel Whaley-Carmichael received their beautiful pendants. Assistant AD Zach Hayes presented the assistant coaches with their rings as Head Coach Jackie Hayes called them to the stage. Coaches Gary Barfield, Jason Gunter, Johnny Lester, Marty McIntyre(considered the best defensive coordinator in the state) Alan McLaurin, Jamie Norris, Lee Page, Rodney Quick, Norman Quick, Chris Ray, Kelvin Roller, Splinter Spivey and Ryan Young and Volunteer Coaches, Maurice Bethea, Ronald German, Mott German and Randy McCollum were given their rings and remained on stage to greet the players as they came forward to receive their rings.
As Coach Hayes called their names the following players came forward to receive their rings. Corrian Wright, Ty Rogers, Ty’Quan Porter, Jateil Lester, ZaReon Hayes, Jallian Williams, Tim Ratley, Rae’Kwon McCoy, Ahmari Huggins, Jerdarius McDaniel, Jeremy Powers, Miguel Bethea, Justin Green, John Hines, Ty’Reek Cabbagestalk, BoBo McKinnon, Shamar McCollum, Taeran Bogin, Brandon Carter, Johntae Blakely, Josh Cooks, Quashod Singleton, Shakai, Jeanty, Jaquez Manning, Dezmond Goodman, Ahmad Dawod, Marquis McGill, Ray Ray McGirt, Dray Thompson, Micah Garcia, Roy Covington, Ja-Marius Bethea, Andrew Bowman, Daizion Alford, Kydrick Brown, Quamez Graves, Isaiah Benjamin, Mar’Queaz Bethea, John’ Quest Cabbagestalk, Dawson Dove, Khalil Bethea, Joseph Burns, Damion McDaniel, Javonta Davis, Austin Allen, Antonio Coleman, Kendrick Hines, Ja’Ziah Evans, Rodrick McCrimmon, Ryheme Hamilton, Justin Wade, Avery Hewitt, Hunter Lane, Keiandre Williams, Emmanuel Cooper, Knox Jackson, Jalen Young, Ja’Paul Green, Dawson Perritt, Jackson Hayes, Cole Carroll, Ny’Corious McDougal, Rodney Owens, Jackson Stone, Corinthian McLaughlin, Damart Ladson, Nehemiah Squires, Nigel George and team managers, Shawn Byrd, Davis Cook, Caleb Lane, Jacorie McCall and Hayden Spivey. As the players returned to their seats Coach Hayes announced that the ring boxes could now be opened.
The excited shouts sounded like five year olds were turned loose in a combination candy and toy store and I don’t blame them. These beautiful rings were hard earned and well deserved. Coach Hayes concluded the event by thanking his wife Mandy and Sheila Ayers for preparing the auditorium for the event. Coach Hayes remarked that Dillon was the best team in the state because it hosted the best players and the finest coaches in the state.
I truly hope the players will take to heart one of Coach Hayes most sincere request of them and that was to not let this be the best day of their lives. Coach Hayes urged the players to take advantage of the class rooms.
The players have learned to be leaders on the field and if they do take advantage of the educational opportunities available to the then they will become great leaders off the field as well.
The fans of Dillon County salute the 2017 Wildcat football team and its coaches and as Coach Hayes said as he closed, I hope to be back here next year.
For a team to go 15 and zero takes more than outstanding talent.
When you are dealing with young minds it takes great coaches to keep them focused. Many talented teams have failed to reach the big game because their minds began to focus on other things as the long season progressed.
To go 15 and zero is a great testament to the players but an even greater testament to Coach Jackie Hayes and his coaching staff in keeping the team’s mind in the game week after week.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNIE DANIELS/THE DILLON HERALD
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