Columbia County's public high school football season is finished, but it's not time to throw out the cliche "It's all over but the shouting."
When it comes to the 2002 campaign, there really wasn't anything to shout about.
Harlem's Kelvin Sturgis pulls in a pass with pressure from Laney's Marquez Gibson during their game Saturday.
Photo by Chris Thelen
Lakeside, Evans and Harlem ended with losses last week, and Greenbrier closed with a loss Nov. 8. The local squads posted a combined record of 11-29, the worse cumulative win-loss mark for the county teams since Greenbrier opened in 1996.
Those are the gory details. A closer look, however, helps explain the gridiron demise.
All four county public schools teams were in a rebuilding mode, and that spelled disaster for Greenbrier and Lakeside, because their Region 3-AAAA opponents were loaded this season.
Evans, meanwhile, entered one of the most athletic regions in the state, and the Knights never quite matched up with their formidable foes.
Harlem, on the other hand, began the season with high hopes, and those dreams were dashed by unforeseen circumstances.
Harlem suffered a 34-7 defeat to Laney on Saturday at ARC Stadium, but the Bulldogs still recorded the best record in the county at 5-5.
That was no solace for the Dogs, as numerous setbacks derailed Harlem's quest for a third-straight trip to the state playoffs - senior linebacker Josh Wilmoth was lost to injury midway through the season, and a couple of other players dropped off the team.
"We had more adversity and injuries this year than any other season I can remember," Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said.
Evans capped its season Friday night at Douglass, and the game played out like a broken record - the Knights displayed grit and were in position to win, but instead were stuck with a 34-27 loss.
Although the Knights finished 2-8, Coach Lee Chomskis was proud of the way his squad competed in rugged Region 7-AAAAA. "Our kids have character, and they have heart," Chomskis said. "That's why we've had a chance to win."
Lakeside's chances for victory never materialized under first-year coach Randy Hill. The Panthers finished 2002 with an 0-10 record after Friday's 29-0 home-loss to Burke County.
"I feel for the seniors. They had such a tough time," Hill said. "We expected things to go a little bit better, but we have a lot of hope for the future. There's a lot to build on."
That will be a familiar theme for the county teams, which all will try to turn things around in 2003.
"Lakeside is young, Evans has a bunch of young guys, and we had five sophomores and freshmen playing," Greenbrier coach Mickey Derrick said. "We lost four or five ball games we could have won, but we've got a good nucleus coming back."
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