Original Williams-Brice Photo by Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA
The Yellow Jackets of TL Hanna have never won a state title and haven't competed for one since 1974 when the lost to Spring Valley. On Friday night, under the lights of Williams-Brice, they will compete in their school's second State Championship game against the Dutch Fork Silver Foxes.
Dutch Fork has won the last two Class 5A championships and three of the last five. According to the USA Today Super 25 HSFB National Rankings, the Silver Foxes come in at #17 in the country.
Zacch Pickens (5-star DE/RB), the leader for TL Hanna and top recruit in the state of South Carolina, is committed to play football for the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2019. He will get his first chance to experience his future home stadium for the first time on the biggest stage in high school football.
In our interview with Hanna head coach, Jeff Herron, on Wednesday evening, he gave us a preview of the game to come and expressed how Pickens has helped keep this team focused all year on their ultimate goal.
"The message and the practice plan has been the same [all season]," Herron stated. "This has been our goal all year."
"Starting in August, when we first went off to camp, we started breaking down at the end of practice. Zacch Pickens, one of our leaders, would yell 'W-A' and everybody else on the team would respond with 'W-B.' We would yell that three times every day for however many days of practice we've had."
The question most would have is, "What does 'W-A' and 'W-B' mean?"
Herron eluded to the fact that people would always ask them what that meant and not many, if any, people outside of the program actually know the meaning of it.
"All year long we've been breaking down to 'W-A' for 'Win At' and 'W-B' for 'Williams-Brice.'"
"And our goal wasn't to get there -- it's to go down there and win."
They know it's a tall order and they're coming in as huge underdogs to the reigning champs for the last two years. "We're the biggest underdogs since David faced Goliath but we have a shot. It's probably not a good one but we're certainly gonna take it," Herron told us.
No doubt the deck would seem to be stacked against the Yellow Jackets in this 'biblical' matchup for a state championship trophy. But they won't enter the game with a losing mentality.
They're there to win and they will either come out victorious or go down swinging. The message has been the same all year. The goal hasn't changed.
As the Jackets ride into Columbia on Friday, there will be only one thing on the coaches and players minds...