Ceremony moving sendoff for Gators seniors
Goose Creek High School offensive lineman Dylan Steele is known by his teammates as one that generally has plenty to say.
He hit the nail on the head on Monday night.
The community-wide celebration in the school’s gymnasium that drew about 600 people was a special sendoff for the seniors and a memorable moment for the players able to come back next football season.
“It showed us all the love one more time,” said Steele, who will move on to Brevard College. “I got the same feeling, running out of that helmet tonight, that you get when you do it out there on the field with all those fans… For me, it was that one last high. It showed us how much they love us.”
The Goose Creek football season was cut short by the South Carolina High School League when the Gators were ruled to have competed with an ineligible player during a 41-point win over Conway in the opening round of the playoffs.
A circuit court judge enabled them to play the second round against Bluffton, a 35-25 win, but the Gators were booted again by the league’s executive committee two days later.
They finished with a 13-0 mark and were ranked as high as 11th in the country. The seniors won 26 straight games and 40 of their last 42, all marks celebrated on Monday.
The whole team also received rings with the word “integrity” inscribed on the side.
Local legislators read a resolution proclaiming the 2012 Goose Creek football team as Athletes of Distinction.
A 15-minute video produced by a local marketing company entitled “Undefeated” chronicled the season and included heavy doses of commentary from Steele.
Each player and coach received a copy of video on DVD.
“They say the City of Goose Creek is one of the best communities in the whole country to raise a family in and I think this football team has a lot to do with that,” he said. “It brings the whole community together.”
Senior fullback Rico Blanding said the video gave him chills.
“I moved here in 10th grade and I love it,” he said. “It’s one big family.”
Gators football coach Chuck Reedy expects the ceremony to galvanize his players as they look forward to spring practice and summer workouts. He said it was one of the most overwhelming things he’s been a part of in his 11 years at the helm.
“Our kids are working very very hard,” he said. “Something like this motivates the kids because they realize the support they've got. They realize what this football team means to this community. They’ll come out tomorrow and have a great day in the weight room.”
“That first home game next year - running through that helmet with the smoke and fog – is going to be a great scene,” Goose Creek junior quarterback Dantez Bennamon said.
Goose Creek boys basketball coach Blake Hall also got a chance to speak. Led by Bennamon, his Gators are playing for a state championship on Friday against Irmo.
Senior Rashard Alston, a fullback during the fall, is one of the basketball players that was crushed by the sudden end to football season.
“They took it away from us in football but we get a fair shot in basketball,” he said. “We want to bring it home for the community of Goose Creek.”