WHITMIRE — This Friday a county rivalry game will be renewed, and a championship team will be honored on the 40th anniversary of their victory. The Whitmire High School Wolverines and the Mid-Carolina High School Rebels will meet on the field for the first time since 2011.
The last time the teams played seven years ago, the Rebels defeated the Wolverines 56-0. This game will not only serve as a renewal of a Newberry County rivalry, but will also be a celebration of the Whitmire High School 1978 football team, who were the state champions. During that season, Superintendent Jim Suber served as an assistant coach for the team.
“I was a graduate assistant, I was earning my degree at Newberry College in 1978,” Suber said.
Suber believes that season they had a regular season record of 13-1, and collectively that team was probably one of the best group of athletes he has coached on the football field.
“A lot of them went off to play college football, some went into coaching, became head football coaches, athletic directors, some of them are in the corporate world and are very successful now. It was just a band of brothers that always worked as a team. They understood the value of being a good teammate, very positive attitudes. They really didn’t care who got the credit, as long as they were winning,” he said. “Just an outstanding head coach, and my late mentor and my late coach, William “Lefty” Johnson.”
Suber spoke very highly of Johnson, he said Johnson was good with Xs and Os than any other coach he’d been around.
“He knew what his strengths were with that football team. He had some great offensive lineman, two or three outstanding running backs. He chose to keep it on the ground a good bit, running game was extremely strong and they threw it when they had to, and were very successful when doing that,” Suber said.
Suber also had great respect for the players on the team, he said they all had very positive attitudes, but the biggest victory above and beyond that state championship win was seeing what they did later in life.
“The success that a large majority of them have enjoyed, those are your true rewards,” he said.
Now that it has been 40 years since the Whitmire victory, Suber said time really flies when you are having a good time.
“In this business, as you reflect and look back over the years, it goes quickly. Times like this are those you don’t forget,” he said. “Just the support of the community was unbelievable in a town the size of Whitmire, when the football team played, especially when they were playing their rival games, such as Mid-Carolina or Jonesville. The largest crowd I’ve seen in that stadium was a Friday night when we played Jonesville for a region championship. I still have not seen a crowd that big in the stadium in 40 years.”
During Friday’s game, the 1978 team will be honored during halftime. Suber believes this game will be good for both the Mid-Carolina and Whitmire communities.
“Anytime you have a county rivalry, you will draw a large crowd. Not only that, but you will also be celebrating the 1978 team,” he said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.