The game was billed as the Battle of Highway 707. But for the St. James High football team, the magic number was .500.
The Sharks (5-5, 2-3 region) wasted little time securing their first non-losing regular season since 2015, routing rival Socastee 55-8 at The Reservation on Friday night.
The five victories are more than the Sharks have combined to record since the school's last and only playoff win in 2015. They had three total wins under three different head coaches from 2016-2018.
"I know .500 might not be a big deal to some people, but it's huge for these kids," said Sharks coach Tommy Norwood, who took over the team as an assistant two seasons ago. "I'm real proud of all of them, but especially the seniors."
One of those veterans is Ethan White, who made the transition to quarterback this season and looked like a seasoned pro Friday, throwing two touchdown passes to fellow senior Randy Smith and rushing for another to put St. James in position for a possible at-large playoff berth.
"We hope we make the playoffs, but if this is it, what a great way for it to end," said Ethan White, who completed an efficient 5 of 8 passes for 101 yards. "We've worked so hard and improved so much from past seasons."
The Sharks did the bulk of the damage on the ground, with the senior running back 1-2 punch of Deondray Stanfield and Malachi Butler combining for over 300 yards. Butler had 19 carries for 177 yards and two TDs while Stanfield had 10 rushes for 140 yards.
"Now all we can do is pray we make the playoffs," said Stanfield, whose team will learn its postseason fate Saturday. "Either way, it feels great to be a part of turning the program around."
The Sharks struck first on the third play of the game with Stanfield breaking free for a 49-yard TD run. Following a Socastee fumble, the first of three on the night, Butler scored from four yards out, then added a spinning 61-yard TD run that gave St. James a 21-0 lead through one quarter.
Stanfield broke a 28-yarder between White and Smith's connections — a 56-yard bomb and a 10-yarder just before halftime to make it 42-8. Socastee's lone TD came on a 2-yard run by Logan Riggs.
White found the end zone with his feet on a two-yard sneak and Stanfield recorded the hat trick on a nine-yard dash for a 55-8 advantage after three quarters of play as a running clock may have hastened the final horn on the Sharks' season. They are in a pool of hopefuls that includes Irmo, Spring Valley, White Knoll, Chapin and Stratford.
"I haven't heard anything yet, but I'm getting ready to start checking scores," Norwood said excitedly. "We're just going to enjoy this one and see what happens."
The scene was a somber one on the other side of the field, where Socastee (1-8, 0-5) interim coach Marty Jacobs addressed his team possibly for the last time. He took over in April following the sudden resignation of Doug Illing, but the position will be open to all applicants.