Column: The time to see the future is now

August 17, 2018

There are four seasons in South Carolina, winter, spring, summer and football.

The latter begins tonight … and that is awesome.

The long abyss of boring Friday nights are finally over.

I say that because I’ve always enjoyed high school football and you should, too. Where else can you go for $7 and get a group of kids playing their hearts out for their school and teammates?

And you get the entertainment around the field too, the cheerleaders, the bands, it’s a culture in the South.

This is when you can get out and see stars before they go on to play in college and possibly the NFL.

Throughout my career of covering games I’ve seen some notable guys who went on to play in the NFL like Errict Rhett of Hollywood (Fla.) McArthur, Clinton “Boo” Hart of Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter, Broderick Bunkley of Tampa Chamberlain and Leonard Fournette of St. Augustine in New Orleans.

There have been many more, too.

Even those who went on to college … and a college just a short drive from Aiken to the University of South Carolina like O.J. Murdock from Tampa Middleton and yes, Stephen Garcia of Tampa Jefferson.

I’ve seen former Clemson guys too, like Mackenzie Alexander of Immokalee High and Jayron Kearse of South Fort Myers.

That list mentioned covers from Southeast Florida, to North Central Florida, Tampa area, New Orleans and Southwest Florida.

No matter where you are, you will see greatness in its beginnings.

And Aiken County is a huge area to see those beginnings.

How many realize there are seven players from the area currently on NFL rosters?

Former Silver Bluff defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is coming off a massive 14.5 sack year for the Dallas Cowboys, Cordrea Tankersley, also from Silver Bluff, became a starting defensive back for the Miami Dolphins in his rookie year and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dekoda Watson of South Aiken is going into his ninth year.

On the west side of the county, former North Augusta star wide receiver Matt Hazel is beginning his fourth year in the league, now with the Indianapolis Colts and former Strom Thurmond star defensive back Antonio Hamilton impressed Oakland Raiders coaches with two pass breakups in limited time in their preseason game last week.

And to the far east of the county you have Williston-Elko’s Rafael Bush now with the Buffalo Bills. Add in Taylor Hearn who went undrafted this year and was signed by the Carolina Panthers and that is quite a solid bunch.

Who’s next?

The only way to find out is go out and watch these guys tonight and for the next 11 weeks or more.

And if you can’t make it out to the games, the Aiken Standard will broadcast The Game of the Week live online at aikenstandard.com. Tonight’s game is South Aiken vs. Greenwood.

You will not be disappointed, after all it is the season.

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