Ben Hampton walked off Socastee High’s football field with a winning record.
The Braves’ 28-0 victory over Loris on their home turf Friday night gave them their first winning season (4-2) since 2015.
“I think it does a lot for the program,” said Hampton, Socastee's coach.
Just like the Lions’ coach Greg Mance, he finished his first season with his new team.
“We’ve got a team that everybody thought was undersized, we’re out-athleted, and our kids just proved that they put their nose to the grindstone, stayed after it and worked hard,” Hampton said.
While both teams had been eliminated from playoff contention coming into this week’s matchup, that didn’t prevent a hard-fought game.
After a scoreless first half, Socastee quarterback Rocco Wojcik took the ball into the end zone in the third quarter to get the Braves on the board.
Eventually, the team was able to cruise to victory in the fourth quarter, amassing three more touchdowns. Throughout the night, their defense stepped up with multiple interceptions.
Hampton praised his players.
“They're a good group,” he said. “We just want to come in and try to change the culture and get our program headed in the right way. I've done it with a great coaching staff and a great group of kids.”
Mance did the same for his own squad.
"It's a lot of good people in Loris," he said. “Great administration, athletic director, principal, assistant principals are tremendous. They back sports, the community backs sports.”
While their season (2-4) may not have turned out as he’d hoped, that doesn’t mean there weren’t bright spots.
The team, hindered by injuries this season, started off 2-0 and had a competitive game against Aynor. The Lions even led Dillon last month before falling in that game.
“We did some positive things,” Mance said.
Younger players even got some playing time in Friday’s game.
“We got some young kids on tape,” Mance said, “something to build on next year.”
The coach said he was disappointed, however, with his team notching two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Friday.
“That's an embarrassment to our program, to our school, to our community,” he said. “That's not tolerated. That's going to be dealt with.”
For now, of course, neither squads’ work is done, despite their seasons coming to an end.
“I think that was huge for our kids to finish with two straight wins and a winning season,” Hampton said. “I think it builds momentum and springboards us into the offseason.”
“We’ve got to get it turned around,” Mance said, “and we’ve got a long way to go.”