James F. Byrnes High School is the 2008 4A Division I football state champion. Congratulations go out to the team and its coaches. Yes, they won the championship game at Death Valley. They were good and so were the Gamecocks. But the Sumter High School football team, its coaches and its loyal fans won the hearts of the people throughout the state of South Carolina. Jerome Singleton, executive director of the South Carolina High School League, noted the Gamecocks' exemplary sportmanship by saying, "The league has always given the state runner-up team the choice of leaving the field after receiving their medallions and trophy, or to stay and respectfully honor the state champions as they received their awards. To say the least, Sumter High School chose the latter and it left a lasting impression on all those who witnessed theis memorable moment of character being demonstrated at its best."
As the talent evaluator for the High School Sports Report and the setup guy for the HSSR Game of the Week for the past 12 years, I have never witnessed any team at the championship games staying to honor the new state champion. Billy Baker, the owner and editor of HSSR, said, "Such exemplary sportsmanship became the headlines of the conversations in the press room." Gamecock head football coach Paul Sorrells immediately became an icon of coaching. Coach Sorrells was responsible of iniating this show of sportsmanship. After the last awar was presented to the Sumter High team, he asked each player to stay in their respectful place, to turn and face the state champions and applaud each Byrnes player and coach as they received their awards. Many memorable moments, such as this one, has been the difference of shame or fame. On this night in Clemson, S.C., Sumter High School established its fame for the exemplary character and sportsmanship.
Dr. Zona Jefferson, Sumter School District 17 superintendent, and Rut Dingle, Sumter High School principal, are to be commended for the high expectations they have established for their students. The entire community of Sumter should be proud of its players and all those dedicated supporters who were at Death Valley for the state championship game.
The HSSR Game of the Week crew came up with a number of superlatives to best describe the state football championship teams. The team with the most spirit went to Sumter. The team that exceeded its expectations for performance went to Sumter. The largest number of fan support went to Sumter. The team having the most supportive fans went to Sumter. The team displaying the highest level of character went to Sumter. Sumter High School, because of this one small gesture of sportsmanship and respect for others, has set a new standard for word "quality" in athletics throughout this great state.
High School Sports Report Talent Scout
Dorchester School District Two Board of Trustees