Trojans healing as fall practice starts
If winning the Class A Division II state football championship last November is considered to be the pinnacle of the Cross football program, the month of July this summer can be considered the low point.
Beloved coach Antonio Simmons’ death in mid-July sent the Trojans’ athletic program reeling. Students, players and staff at Cross have weathered the storm and now must somehow move on.
The football team took a much-needed first step with the start of fall practice on Friday.
“Today was a day that we all needed,” said Cross Head Coach Shaun Wright. “The kids came out with great attitudes and enthusiasm. It made it good for us adults to see that the kids were ready to get back to where we left off.”
Also, with other real life situations such as summer jobs for players coming into play, Wright was encouraged by his team’s turnout on the first day of regular season practice. “This was the best turnout on the first day so that told me that they were ready,” he said. “We are a little behind as we gave them off this past week for obvious reasons.”
With the emotional turmoil of the past few weeks behind them, Wright said his team has to make up some ground conditioning. “If I had to pick a negative it’s that we are not in shape and we need to develop some depth at inside linebacker,” he said.
The Trojans will also have to find a way to replace graduating quarterback Branford Halls who will suit up at Charleston Southern this fall.
“We will be young at quarterback with Jamar Matthews and Roger Ravenell fighting for the position,” Wright said. “They are both sophomores and have had a great summer.”
Cross plans to honor Simmons’ memory this fall by wearing patches and stickers on their helmets. Wright added that plans are in the works to name the Trojans newly renovated locker room after Coach Simmons.
“It will be called Simmons field house,” Wright said. “We hope to dedicate this at one of our home games this year.”
The Trojans open their season on Aug. 23 at Kingstree.