High School Football

How Green Sea Floyds’ state title run brought sunshine to a gloomy football season

Watch: Green Sea Floyds celebrates first state title in school history

Green Sea Floyds hung on to beat Lamar, 26-20, to capture the Class A state championship on Dec. 7, 2018, in Columbia, SC.
Up Next
Green Sea Floyds hung on to beat Lamar, 26-20, to capture the Class A state championship on Dec. 7, 2018, in Columbia, SC.

With all due respect, I never saw the day coming.

If you had told me at the beginning of the 2018 high school football season — or any year, really — that Green Sea Floyds (10-3) would be crowned state champion in football, I would have looked at you as if you were crazy.

Are you off your rocker? Are you on drugs? Have you completely lost it?

But the reason for doubting the Trojans wasn’t out of disrespect; rather, it came from context. After all, four years ago the squad was winless, and in 2018 was coming off a 6-6 season. Nothing there indicated we’d see anything special this year.

However, midway through the 2018 season, we took note of the Trojans, thinking “the team is having a very good season for them.” After starting 1-2 and later getting to 3-3 — looking about where we would have predicted — they piled up seven straight victories.

Even after a 6-3 regular season — which included breakthrough wins over Loris and Hemingway — I never imagined that last Friday we’d look up at the scoreboard and see Green Sea Floyds beating Lamar — a perennial state contender — 26-20 to bring home the Class A title, its first state championship.

Little did I know about just how much progress was being made in our area’s smallest football program.

Yes, Tony Sullivan had gotten the program moving forward and, yes, Donnie Kiefer took what he inherited and ran with it. But this was way too early for such a vast turnaround, right?

Apparently not. Instead, the Trojans kept surprising in what was becoming a true storybook season.

1207gschampionship18
Green Sea Floyds coach Donnie Kiefer holds the championship ball after his class 1A State Championship win with a score of 26-20 (final) at Charles W. Johnson stadium in Columbia, S.C. Dec 07, 2018. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

It started with the three-game winning streak to finish the regular season, leading to a No. 2 seed and bye in the first round of the state playoffs. Then there was a dominating 64-26 win over C.E. Murray in the second round and a historic 44-16 victory at Baptist Hill that got the Trojans into the Lower State finals for the first time.

History had been made, but Green Sea Floyds wasn’t done. A twist of fate — perhaps even a little luck — had third-seeded Hemingway knock off top-seeded Lake View, which had defeated the Trojans in Green Sea earlier in the season 37-22, giving GSF a home game for Lower State against a team it had defeated on a last-second two-point conversion earlier in the year.

This is when my antennas truly went up.

Could the Trojans actually get to state? Yet, I rationalized that it was the Hemingway Tigers, a traditional Class A contender who perhaps had lost to GSF on a fluke last-second play. The Trojans quickly poked holes in that theory, swinging haymaker after haymaker en route to a 47-7 win that put them in the state championship for the first time.

OK, so that was it, the underdog story had Green Sea Floyds playing for a state title. That was already more than we could’ve asked for, right?

As it was revealed that the Trojans’ opponent would be Lamar, which was headed to the state final for the fourth straight year, I thought “darn.” While I know there’s supposed to be no cheering in the press box, I always figure that if a team — or teams, as Myrtle Beach won another state as well this year — was going to drag us into December they might as well win it all.

Besides, the story was just so good at this point.

1207gschampionship02
Green Sea’s A.J Campbell runs the ball against Lamar in the State Championship game. Green Sea Floyds defeated Lamar on Friday night to win the class 1A State Championship with a score of 26-20 (final) at Charles W. Johnson stadium in Columbia, S.C. Dec 07, 2018. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

Then the mighty Trojans stunned the world, building a 26-14 halftime lead before holding on to win 26-20 and complete a season few — if anyone — saw coming.

Say what? Did this really happen?

In fact, Kiefer had talked about how this was the plan all along. But it’s one thing to say it and another to do it.

“That [state title] would make our program. When you’re thinking about football you don’t think very much about Green Sea Floyds,” Kiefer told The Sun News heading into the game. “I think it would make us relevant in that sport.”

Indeed, the small school that hails from a community known for farms and fields in rural western Horry County has made its mark on the high school football map.

In a season mired by hurricanes and flooding, it was often as if the world had flipped upside down. As things got back to normal late in the season, the Trojans proved that this season was different for other reasons and they made the most of their hard work.

“It’s just phenomenal,” Kiefer told The Sun News following the big win. “God blessed us all year long.”

Not even a hurricane can rain on this parade, a literal one that will take place around the school at 1 p.m. Wednesday. (Note: The community has been asked to set up along S.C. 9 and Tulip Grove Road to honor the Trojans for their historic run.)

1207gschampionship04
Green Sea Floyds defeated Lamar on Friday night to win the class 1A State Championship with a score of 26-20 (final) at Charles W. Johnson stadium in Columbia, S.C. Dec 07, 2018. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com

I’m sure it will be a sight to see and one many in the community never saw coming.

Kudos to the Trojans — and the Seahawks, whose story was also impressive — for bringing sunshine to what started as a gloomy high school football season.

As for the town of Green Sea, enjoy. This is one of the best stories I’ve witnessed in over a decade at The Sun News and we were happy to be along for the ride.

As for the doubts, my bad.

Related stories from Myrtle Beach Sun News

  Comments