Doug Illing didn’t have much time to get to know his star quarterback.
The Socastee first-year coach, officially hired in May, crammed in as many opportunities to find out exactly who Hunter Renfrow was. Illing had seen plenty of tape, and he even watched a few summer league baseball games.
The real connection, though, started over two rounds of golf prior to the football season.
“He’s terrible at golf,” Illing said. “But he’s competitive. He wanted to get that ball all the way to the hole. He was so competitive. I saw it then. … That’s going to be a part of his personality for his entire life. You hear people say that; you hear people say ‘greatness.’ They work as hard as they can to be the best. That’s who Hunter Renfrow is.
“That’s the legacy that he’s going to leave behind.”
Renfrow, the Toast of the Coast Offensive Player of the Year, led the program to its best two seasons in school history. A pair of 12-1 records, both of which included undefeated regular seasons and Region VII-AAA slates, was like nothing the school had seen before.
Leading the charge was Renfrow, the quarterback who ran the option offense to near perfection for the majority of his time on the field. As a senior, he rushed for 1,501 yards and 14 touchdowns and threw for another 810 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In three seasons, he combined to put up 5,305 yards and 61 touchdowns, and he helped Socastee to five playoff victories in that time as the team’s starting quarterback, a role he assumed during the home stretch of his sophomore season.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” Renfrow said. “It’s amazing that when you get a group of guys together who wants to win what you can accomplish. Everyone had the same goal.”
Socastee has had scores of influential players over the last two seasons. However, most of those other Braves have said that many of the team’s 24 victories over that span don’t happen without Renfrow.
He was able to take over more than his share of games, and in a variety of ways. He’s played eight different positions since the start of his sophomore season, and it stands to reason he’ll be playing a position other than quarterback when he finally decides between his numerous college options sometime this month.
No matter his next move, though, he’ll be remembered as one of the best football players to have ever played at Socastee. S.C. football coaches also believed him to be one of the best across the state. They honored him as the Class AAA Lower State Back of the Year and named him to the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas roster.
He allowed the Braves and their new coach to have a repeat season of the one that started it all.
“It was very comforting to know you have an athlete, a competitor like that,” Illing said. “His desire to win was endless. You don’t see that in the weight room; you don’t see that in practice. You don’t see it until you get him on the field. The desire in his eyes, you see very few athletes with that.
“I knew this kid was going to be special.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.