Bryant’s return gives rivalry a throwback feel
It’s a rivalry that has created some of the biggest moments in CSRA football. This season’s version of the Silver Bluff vs. Barnwell showdown will have a bit of a throwback feel to it.
De’Angelo Bryant will be on the Silver Bluff sideline again, and Dwayne Garrick will be on the Barnwell sideline. But it’s slightly different from one of the more memorable times the two were on opposing sidelines in this rivalry – the 2000 Class AA state semifinals. That time, Garrick was the coach of Barnwell, but Bryant was still a player. The final meeting was an unforgettable one for each of them.
Silver Bluff scored a touchdown in the closing seconds to propel it to the state championship game, which it would go on to win. For Garrick, it was “one of the toughest losses” he’s taken as a coach.
Now the two meet again, and this time both are head coaches.
“He and I often joked about the small school rivalries and what that meant to our communities and how the communities were so into the games. Now to be able to actually coach in it and be able to coach against someone like him, it really means a lot to me as far as my personal growth from where I was to where I’m at now,” Bryant said. “He’s a guy that I’m chasing, but it will be really good to be able to be across the sidelines from him once again.”
Bryant said that it’s just special to be involved in the rivalry once again. He has a winning record in the series as a player, and Silver Bluff leads the overall series 30-15. Both coaches pointed out the importance of the games between the two.
Often times the teams would meet with both undefeated and a region championship on the line. That was the case in one of Bryant’s other most memorable moments from the rivalry, which came in the 2000 regular season.
Bryant had two big receptions and an interception to help seal the deal and win a region title.
According to the Aiken Standard archives, 7,000 fans were in attendance at W.W. Carter Stadium that night in October 2000.
“It was an absolute slugfest between the two teams,” Bryant said. “That’s probably one of my most memorable games just being on such a large scale. It was intense going to the stadium, the different things that you saw.”
With Silver Bluff now in Region 2-AA, the game is earlier in the season, and there won’t be a region championship on the line, but it still means just as much to everyone involved.
“It’s definitely a tremendous honor to be able to play in that game. I recall watching so many great games between the two schools, and you know, the community battles and the bragging rights and stuff like that,” Bryant said. “Barnwell is definitely a program that I think every Silver Bluff player would say at the end of the day we respect. It’s also one of those games that when you’re involved in it you really feel what that rivalry sense really means to you.”