The top sports stories of 2012
Last week’s review of top sports news for 2012 began with stories six through 10 and concludes this week with The Berkeley Independent’s Top 5 Sports Stories of 2012
The BI’s most attention-getting and important stories represent a cross section of the best in upper Berkeley County sports from track and cross country to girls volleyball, baseball and of course, football.
• 5: Berkeley inducts inaugural Hall of Fame Class.
The inaugural class of the Berkeley Athletics Hall of Fame was inducted during halftime of the Berkeley-Stratford football game on Aug. 24.
The inaugural class of 15 charter members is a cross section of the 100-year tradition that is Berkeley Stags sports representing athletes, coaches, administrators and volunteers reaching back in time to before World War II. It is an unprecedented assembling of the best that have suited up in the blue and gold, a moment worthy of the tag, “historic.”
“I am humbled to be standing before you to talk about the people you’re about to meet,” said athletic director Jeff Cruce to a crowd of more than 150 guests. “There is sense of family here. There is such a rich tradition here.
“To be called a Hall of Famer – every member here represents the community, the history of Berkeley High School and the history of Moncks Corner.”
Starting this Hall of Fame was Cruce’s idea, and next to keeping the winning tradition going it was his top priority when he came to the school last year.
“We had one chance to get it right and I think with this first Hall of Fame class, I think we got it right,” he said. “We’re playing the game against Stratford tomorrow for the people who laid the foundation of Berkeley Stags sports.”
Members include longtime coach Gerald Moody, principal and coach Jim Bradley, school superintendent Henry Bonner, founder of youth football Harold Staley and 1950 Stags quarterback David Anderson, the only athlete in Stags history to have died from injuries sustained on the field of play.
Other Hall of Fame inductees include Usha Gilmore and Ryan Stewart from the 1990s, Benji Motte and Mike Dingle from the 1980s, Clarence Williams and Ronald Aiken from the 1970s, Butch Watson and Francis Wilson from the 1960s, and Bobby Dellinger and Watson Mims from the 1950s.
• 4 – Stags capture District 7 championship
The Berkeley Stags baseball team defeated Cane Bay twice to capture the 3A District 7 Championship. The back-to-back wins came on Cane Bay's home field before a capacity crowd.
With bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Berkeley reliever Sterling Fiddie delivered the crippling knockout punches, striking out the side to preserve the Stags 2-1 win and bringing the team’s first-ever district championship home to Moncks Corner.
“You can have your region championships,” said Coach Landy Cox of Cane Bay’s second Region 7AAA championship, claimed at the expense of his Stags. “I’ll take a district championship over 10 region titles anytime.”
The Stags improbable run through the Class AAA playoffs that culminated in the District 7 championship came to an end as BHS fell 12-0 to the Chapin Eagles in the elimination game of the Class AAA Lower State Final Four.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that this team would be playing in the Lower State Final Four after winning a district championship, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Cox.
• 3: St. John’s Cavaliers advance to SCISA 8-Man state championship game.
Their season may have ended with a loss to Wardlaw Academy 58-42 in the championship game, but 2012 was a great year for the St. John’s football team.
The Cavaliers, hoping to claim their first state championship in three tries, kept pace with the Patriots before eventually falling.
SJCA made it to the 8-man finals in 2004 and 2005. The Cavaliers played 11-man football from 2008 to 2011.
“It was a long road,” said Coach Bill McCall. “We worked really hard to get here and we played our hearts out. We just came up a little short.”
• 2: Gators disqualified from playoffs
The Goose Creek Gators disqualification from the Class AAAA Div. II playoffs and subsequent court battle was the most unlikely story appearing in The Independent’s sports pages this year.
When the team that everyone assumed would be state champions was kicked out of the playoffs, it was a shock to the county and state.
The unbeaten Gators ranked No. 1 in the state and as high as No. 11 in the country, were removed from the playoffs for the second time in a week for using an ineligible player, a former BHS student. The South Carolina High School League Executive Committee voted 14-0 to uphold the league’s original ruling, and a mercy vote also went against the Gators, 12-2.
The decision ended a week-long effort by GCHS Principal Jimmy Huskey, football coach Chuck Reedy and the school district to give the Gators a chance to defend their Class AAAA Div. II championship.
The ordeal began Nov. 12 when Huskey was checking winter sports eligibility and discovered that a student transcript used at the beginning of football season was incomplete. It showed different information from what was originally available in August, and Huskey self reported the potential violation.
An extra year was added to the transcript, meaning the student-athlete in question, a special needs student on a non-diploma track, would have used up his eight semesters of athletic eligibility at the end of the 2011-12 school year.
A day later, Goose Creek was forced to forfeit its 48-7 playoff victory over Conway by SCHSL Commissioner Jerome Singleton.
• 1: Cross Trojans win state title
The Cross Trojans ran the football all the way to the Class A Div. II state championship in 2012.
Buoyed by three touchdowns each by Devontae Shepherd and Dionte Evans, the Trojans dispatched the McCormick Chiefs 38-26 with clinical precision to win their first championship in school history. The game was played at Benedict College in Columbia.
“This is a great day for Cross and a great day for the Cross community,” said CHS Head Coach Shaun Wright. “We were resilient. We battled all year. We never gave up.”
The Trojans fielded a lethal running game, led by Shepherd and the twins Dionte and Diamonte Evans, all juniors. Shepherd and the Evans brothers lined up behind senior quarterback Branford Halls, the field general that drove this juggernaut offense.
“Devontae Shepherd and Dionte Evans have emerged as two of the premier running backs in the state,” Wright said. “They are both legitimate prospects.”
Against McCormick the Trojans ran for 354 yards on 36 carries, a 9.3 yard average, nearly a first down every time a Trojan running back touched the football.
“Branford Halls made the statement prior to this season that he would not graduate without bringing home the State Championship,” Wright said. “These guys were freshman we I got here and we have all grown together.”
Wright added that success is a community effort.
“I am smart enough to know that no one person gets the credit, but it's the effort of these kids, coaches and parents,” he said. “I know the expectation will be greater but we have to remember we are a small school and a few bad apples can hurt the program. Pride has been established back here and we just look to compete in all sports with the notion that we can win a state championship.”