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Barnwell High School


A look inside the rich tradition of the Barnwell football program

By Billy G. Baker

Barnwell—It has been 30 long years; enough time to elect five different Presidents, since the revered Barnwell Warhorses won back-to-back AA football titles in 1987-88 to the utter delight of their dedicated fans, still clinging to the fond memories of yesterday. 
With a record of 6-0 thus far in the 2018 season, and having outscored teams 270-45, anticipation is building for that regular season ending scrap with arch-rival Bamberg-Ehrhardt on the road Oct. 26. No doubt, the winner of this game is likely going to be your region champion and get a top seeding in the upcoming playoffs. There is an adage that describes such high-profile games with such a high intensity level for players and coaches; it requires even getting all the women and children off the streets of the town while the game is being played. Of course, that is an exaggeration of the truth. In this game you might go one step further and get your dogs and cats inside for their safety as well. 
In between these four decades, since the last title, Barnwell has compiled an over-all record of 264 —125. Under Mac Weir the Warhorses were 196-58-1 in his 20-year stint that started in 1979 and ran through his retirement from coaching after the 1998 season. Current head coach Dwayne Garrick has had two coaching stints in Barnwell. He succeeded Coach Weir for three years between 1999, 2000 and 2001 when his teams went 27-10. Since his return in 2015, Coach Garrick is 35-9 coming into a game this week against with Whale Branch.
Barnwell began the season with a 54-6 win over Class A strong-hold Williston-Elko, and with 17 starters back the Blue Devils must have wondered just what went wrong in that lopsided loss. Then came a 40-6 win over Blackville-Hilda followed up by a 21-14 win on the road at Silver Bluff. In their past three games they have defeated Burke, 48-0, Midland Valley 49-13, and last week they started region play with a 58-6 stampede over Allendale-Fairfax. There match-up with Wade Hampton (H) was postponed due to Hurricane Florence.  
After leaving Barnwell, Coach Garrick went on to head coaching stints at Hillcrest (2002-04) and Williston-Elko (2007-13) where his Blue Devils went 72-18 and played for three state titles, winning the gold medal round in 2009. Coach Garrick returned to Warhorse country in 2015. In 2006 he had a one-year stint as an assistant under David Gutshall at Dorman.  In 2014, Coach Garrick spent one season under David Bennett at River Bluff.    
 “This is it for me,” said Coach Garrick the other day, from the exact same office occupied by Weir and others. “I hope to finish out my career here. Barnwell is a great place to live and coach high school football. We would like nothing more than to win a state championship this season. We have the right team with dedicated players who have the right team chemistry also. We feel like everything is coming together at the right time. We are focused on getting a little better each week. “
Garrick graduated from Andrew Jackson Academy in 1981 and he grew up in the Orangeburg area.  He went on to play football at Presbyterian for three seasons (1982-84). Then he became a graduate assistant at South Carolina State under Hall of Famer Willie Jefferies around 1985 and he graduated from S.C. State.  After coaching stints at Bowman Academy, Andrew Jackson Academy, and Mims Academy he became the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator under David Berry at Blackville-Hilda between 1992 and 1994. 
Coach Garrick is married to his high school sweetheart of 30 years, Gina, and the couple has two children, daughter Celie (23) who is married to Cannon Jordan, a coach at Newberry College.  Son Tamym “Gator” (25) is now coaching quarterbacks at Presbyterian after spending two seasons in the same role at The Citadel.  
“I have been blessed to have such an understanding wife like Gina who understands the demands a coach goes through and we have had many moves and she has been very supportive over the years,” said Coach Garrick. “Our children have been a rich blessing to both of us. Celie married Chuck Jordan’s son and Gator grew up wanting to be a coach one day, so we are all happy doing what we are doing.”
In 1995 and 1996 Coach Garrick worked at Bamberg-Ehrhardt at the defensive coordinator under Robert Wrightenberry before taking the Barnwell head job for three seasons. In 2006 Coach Garrick says he had a great learning experience working as the offensive line coach for David Gutshall at Dorman before becoming the head coach at Williston-Elko.  “I have been fortunate to work under a lot of quality head coaches who taught me a lot about the game of football,” said Coach Garrick. “Willie Jefferies, David Berry, David Bennett, David Gutshall, and Robert Wrighenberry all taught me different aspects of the game. 
“In football you keep adjusting and you keep tweaking players, and you just hope that you have the right players playing in the right positions and that everyone is all-in on what you are trying to accomplish in your program,” said Coach Garrick. “We have come very close to playing for a state championship in football since I have been in Barnwell. We were just a couple plays away a year ago when we lost to Bamberg-Ehrhardt. These kids this season really want to take it up a level.  They are willing to do what it takes to win, and I feel like we could compete at the highest level the next two years with the junior group we have right now.”
Barnwell makes it a challenge for opposing defenses to prepare to play them with junior quarterback Craig Pender (5-11, 170) equally efficient at running the offense out of a spread or from a wishbone. Pender could be described as a younger version of former Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw known for making plays with his arm and his feet. Pender is a similar type quarterback. 
Against Allendale-Fairfax Pender played two series past half-time and he completed 10 of 19 passes for 225 yards and five touchdowns. He uses quick feet to buy time rolling out and he has good speed to the boundary with excellent vision down field. His passes are sharp, pinpoint, and very catchable. He throws just as much out of the spread as he does the wishbone. 
On the season Pender has completed a remarkable 56 of 78 passes he has thrown for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is also averaging 5.5 yards per carry when he runs the ball. After the Allendale-Fairfax game Pender told the HSSR, “We are just as effective in the spread as we are in the wishbone and the offensive line has improved a lot since week one,” he said. “We are keeping our heads up and focused on steady improvement. Staying together as a team is important also. 
“Being able to throw it all over the yard with the pass, and then being able to come straight at you in the wishbone with a running game gives us a chance to have an outstanding season,” said Pender, the nephew of former HSSR all-state quarterback Bru Pender from the 1987-88 seasons. “We hope to win the region and we have three tough games left with Whale Branch this week, then a bye and then we play Woodland and Bamberg-Ehrhardt to close out the regular season. We have to keep playing hard for sure.” 
At the HSSR media day at South Carolina in late July Pender said he hoped to throw for 2,500 yards with 25 passing touchdowns this season and winning a state title was his top goal. “I have been waiting for my chance to start at Barnwell and now that I have the opportunity to help the team I am going to do everything the coaches ask of me to help the team win,” he said.  “I just want to win and I don’t care who gets the credit.”
Pender said his top three schools right now are Coastal Carolina, Furman and North Carolina.    
Talk about a team blessed with two outstanding junior offensive tackles and they can both be found in Barnwell. Briggs Kearse (6-4, 300) caught Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell’s eye this summer when he camped with the Tigers. “Coach Caldwell said I had good knee bend and that I moved well, and I am going to a couple games this year at Clemson.” said Kearse. “My father (Will) played on the 1987 and 1988 state championship teams at Barnwell and he is always talking about the great memories of those accomplishments. I am hoping to help this team make some new memories of my own over the next two seasons.” 
Isaiah Williams (6-5, 295) has missed several games due to an injury this season but he returned for the Allendale-Fairfax game and had several pancakes during the game at the other tackle slot. Williams bench presses over 300 pounds and he is drawing interest from numerous major colleges as well.
Barnwell has four juniors rated within the Top 35 HSSR 2020 prospects in Kearse, Williams, outside linebacker Deshawn Watson (6-2, 195), and junior running back/receiver Dallyon Creech (5-11, 190).  “Deshawn is a special player, probably the best player on our team in any grade,” said Coach Garrick. “Unless he puts on a ton of weight he might have to move to strong safety at the next level but he has all the tools to play on Sunday one day.” 
Watson, drawing interest from colleges all over the nation, has 40 tackles to date with a team leading six sacks and two fumble recoveries. His closing speed and sure tackling form once he gets to a ball carrier is quite impressive. 
When Barnwell is in the wishbone senior veteran running back, Brandon Harvey is the focus of the defense after he rushed for 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago. So far this season Harvey has netted out 215 yards on 32 carries and he has four catches for 66 yards also.  The other key running back is Jamari Chisolm who has gained 329 yards on 58 carries and senior T.J. Miller who has gained 165 yards on 21 carries. 
Another highly rated junior who is quite versatile is Creech who caught four touchdown passes in big play moments against Allendale-Fairfax. Creech is averaging 9.4 yards a carry when he runs the ball with 329 net yards on 35 totes. As a receiver he has a team leading 19 catches for 470 yards and he is averaging an eye popping 24.74 yards per catch.  
Ty Frazier has 14 catches for 209 yards and Marcus Robinson has seven catches for 141 yards in a strong support role.  Frazier is among the most talented senior players on the team and he can play on both sides of the football.
Barnwell is developing four newcomers in the offensive line around Kearse and Williams.  “We have four new guys we rotate at guard and center in the offensive line (Price Miller, Dereck Jones, Nathan Miller, and Josh Abrams) to go along with our junior tackle prospects Kearse and Williams, so we are working hard to develop that group into a cohesive unit,” said Coach Garrick. “The key to how far we go this season might come down to how fast our offensive jells as a unit.”
After the big win over Allendale Fairfax, Coach Garrick told the HSSR from the field, “Creech is a good ball player and he is another one of our juniors and he catches the ball really well and can use his speed to get the big plays after the catch. Pender had a solid game at quarterback and we were able to make some nice runs when we got into the wishbone.
   “Deshawn Watson showed why he is one of the better junior prospects in the state with his play at outside linebacker tonight. If you come back next week you will see him play just as well. He comes to play every game.  We are getting better each week.  
“We just need to play with a little more consistency,” said Coach Garrick. “We were playing behind the chains with several third and 10 situations, so we hope to get more productive on first down plays. We have four new guys we rotate at guard and center in the offensive line.”   
Before the Allendale-Fairfax game there was a special recognition ceremony of the 1988 Barnwell state championship team. It was the 30th anniversary of the last team to win a football title at Barnwell.
“It is very important to bring back the players who helped build our tradition at Barnwell and I hope it helps them see the potential of what they can become also,” said Coach Garrick. “Perhaps in 30 years this team could be having their own recognition night for themselves should we be fortunate to go on and win a state title this season.”   
Before the ceremony the HSSR caught up with several former stand-outs who came back to participate in the pre-game recognition. Shelley Hammonds, now an FBI agent living in West Palm Beach, Florida was on hand and he was an outstanding running back/defensive back on both the 1987 and 1988 title teams. Other players like Bru Pender, now a lawyer living in Lexington was on hand along with Willie Creech who had a pick six in the team’s 7-0 win over Central in 1988 along with tight end/defensive end Will Kearse who now works at the Savanah River Plant in Aiken. Creech is a DEA supervisor living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Kearse is one of the few players who has a team on the current Warhorse team.  
Hammonds said things in Barnwell have not changed much. “The town looks the same to me and it is always great to get back up with my high school teammates,” said Hammonds. “I remember Willie Creech got the pick six to help win the title in 1988. We were not the biggest team, or the fastest team but we embraced a mental toughness that allowed us to compete at a high level. We felt like when we stepped on the football field we expected to win. As a cohesive group we feared no one when we stepped on the field. 
“Our head coach Mac Weir kept us focused and he instilled a high level of confidence in all of us that I still use in my work today,” said Hammonds who has a son Caleb playing football at West Palm Beach High this season. “It would have been great to have seen him play in Barnwell.”
Pender is the proud father of a volleyball player “Caroline” at River Bluff and she is headed to the College of Charleston on a volleyball scholarship. “I love the opportunity to come back and see guys like Shelly, Willie and Mike, and to visit with Coach Weir,” said Pender. “It is like we are all back in high school once again. 
“I am really proud of my hard working, team first nephew, Craig Pender,” said Pender. “I hope he gets to experience a state title, or even two before he graduates. There is no greater feeling then to experience a state football championship. It is something that has been with me my whole adult life.”
Creech still remembers his pick six to this day. “The game was a defensive struggle and neither team crossed the 50 for most of the game,” said Creech. “In the third quarter we were playing against a quarterback who they said had not thrown an interception all season. My teammate Mike Jones tipped the pass and I was able to intercept it and take it to the house for 50 yards or so. My thought was not to get caught from behind.
“We wanted to finish our senior season on a high night,” said Creech who is also an FBI agent in Florida. “Coach Weir taught us that hard work paid off and as a team we made it happen.”
Kearse is super proud to have a son playing for Barnwell right now. “Our teams back in 1988 and ’89 were very close groups because we all started playing on the rec level starting when we were 8 years old. Well, we have the same situation with the Barnwell team this season. My son Briggs and Craig (Pender) have been playing on the same teams since they were 8 years old. 
“There are probably 17 players on this year’s team that Brent Pender (Craig’s father) and I coached when they were younger so it very special to see them have a lot of success and fun the game also,” said Kearse.  “We tried to instill in them the same things Coach Weir instilled in us and that was a strong work ethic and a winning never give up attitude. Coach Weir said that if you out-work your opponents you can’t lose.”
Mike Jones was a starting linebacker on both title teams. “I learned that hard work pays off and unity is a big key for team success,” said Jones. “In both games it came down to who got a break or two and we were fortunate to have got some breaks.” 
Speaking of Coach Weir, he said, “Leadership is what it is all about and we had a bunch of good leaders on those two teams in 1987 and 1988,” he said. “If we had a problem with a certain player it usually got worked out in the huddle by our players. Of all the teams I had the honor of coaching we had the most leadership on the two teams. They were a great bunch of guys to coach up.”           
The Barnwell defense forced three fumbles against A-F. Joining Watson among the stop troop leaders were senior defensive lineman Dylan Walker who led the way with 8 tackles including a sack. Defensive lineman Ernest Smith had seven tackles along with defensive back Markeith Corley who had six tackles and one fumble recovery. Three defenders had five tackles each in senior defensive back Markel Corley, senior linebacker Brashaun Spann, and junior defensive lineman Maurice Watson. Senior linebacker Corley Griffin and lineman Copeland Burbage chipped in with four hits each against A-F.        
Walker is the top tackler on the season with 45 followed by Watson and senior linebacker Julius Arnold with 35.  
Barnwell scored on their first possession of the game against Allendale-Fairfax on a 52-yard bomb from Pender to Creech and Dawson Jordan’s PAT made it 7-0 early. The Warhorses got a safety on a snap over the punters head in the end zone to increase their lead to 9-0. On their second possession of the game it took only three plays for Barnwell to increase the lead to 15-0 on a 12- yard run by senior Harvey.
After giving up a touchdown in the second period to A-F Barnwell scored 43 unanswered points to dominate the game. Pender found Creech all alone on a 31-yard scoring pass and on their next drive the Warhorses capped off a 50-yard drive with an 8-yard scoring run by Jamari Chisolm making the score 30-6 late in the first half. 
The lead was extended to 37-6 as Pender found Creech in the flat for a 47-yard touchdown pass on the Warhorses next possession with the PAT making it 37-6 late in the first half.
The Barnwell starters only played two series of the second half, but Pender and Creech had their final junior moment of the game when they hooked up on a 49-yard scoring pass on a pin-point precision pass thrown by a defender into the arms of the sure handed Creech who was off to the races. The PAT made it 44-6 at this point.
Barnwell’s final two scores were by Kaleil Johnson on an 18-yard pass with 7:09 left in the game and T.J. Miller closed out the scoring on a four-yard run with 11:40 left in the final period.
Junior baseball prospect Collin Breeland and senior Ty Frazier shared time at quarterback after Pender retired from the game.
A-F head coach Jim Shuman said after the game, “Barnwell is ranked second in AA in the state for a reason and they have talent and they are well-coached,” he said. 
Barnwell will host Whale Branch this week while A-F plays at Bamberg-Ehrhardt.
After competing well, with deep runs in the AA playoffs the past two seasons, some observers sense that Barnwell could be the team out of the lower state to challenge a team like favored Abbeville in the finals come early December at Benedict College. Bamberg-Ehrhardt and Carvers Bay are surely not going down with a fight as these two teams remain undefeated as well.
In time the champion will emerge, and if not this year, watch for 2019 when Barnwell will have as much senior talent on one team as any other in the state of South Carolina. The stampede is coming; the combination of coaching, hard work, and talent indicates state titles are likely to happen.
And to think it all started with Craig Pender’s great grandfather Charlie Seay who head coached Barnwell’s first state title in 1954 after beating a great Summerville team of John McKissick the week before. No doubt Mr. Seay is looking down on the Warhorses from up above proud of the fact he helped get a rich tradition in high school football started way back in the day. How many Presidents since 1954?

Barnwell volleyball seeing mixed results under new coach

By C.R Cumbee
Staff Writer

Barnwell — The Barnwell volleyball team is under new direction this season as former Warhorse Ashleigh Anderson took over the program.  Her mom, Rosey Anderson, was a mainstay on the sidelines and as athletic director before retiring a few years ago.
“(The transition has) been somewhat smooth.  I taught them a new rotation that has taken a little while for them to get used to.  It’s about building that trust and them knowing that they’re going to be successful if they just trust the process.  We still need to work on communication and serving,” said Anderson.
Barnwell is currently 4-6 overall and 1-1 in region play.  They have upcoming contests against Whale Branch and Blackville-Hilda.
“We’re fighters.  We don’t give up.  We came back from two sets down against Woodland to get our first region win,” said Anderson.  “I see us winning some more region games.  As long as they trust the team and trust themselves, they’re going to be successful.  They have to work together, communicate and believe in themselves.”
Two seniors are in the starting lineup in middle hitter Anajae James and libero Alyssa Still.  James has 27 kills, 20 blocks, 22 aces and 27 digs this season.
“She leads in blocks and kills.  She’s not a captain but she’s one of the leaders on the court,” Anderson said of James.
Also playing well in the middle is junior Autumn Smoke, who has 14 blocks and 14 kills.
“She’s strong on the front row and is one of our top servers,” Anderson said.  “I think she has the potential to be one of the top players in the region.  We just have to make sure she stays consistent up front.”
Setter Olivia Shuler is one of the captains this season and has 16 assists.  Other starters include junior setter McKenzie Jackson and junior outside hitter Kiley Bridgmon (85 percent serve rate, 42 digs, 17 aces).
The key reserves are senior outside hitter Elizabeth Reid, who is the other team captain, senior outside hitter Cam Holloway and junior outside hitter Zi’kaya Crumley.  Kearsten Sanders, Natalie Nobles and Alecia Williams are junior defensive specialists.


© 2017 High School Sports Report

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