The 7th Annual MaxPreps Football Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard landed in Duncan on Tuesday, January 24th to honor the Rebels on their state championship and No. 42 national ranking from over 16,000 teams in the country. The Tour of Champions honor was Byrnes third, having received the honor in 2006 and 2009.
Premier football facilities matching any Division 2 or 3 college football program and driven coaches and focused players. That summarizes James F. Byrnes High School football. As Sergeant First Class Vance Burgess, James F. Byrnes alum, proudly explained, "Football is a year round thing around here." There is an old saying, "football is in their blood" and I can certainly attest to this aspect at Byrnes.
As the tour pulled up to the school, nestled in northwestern South Carolina and home to some great high school football teams such as Byrnes, Gaffney and Dorman, we immediately noticed the school pride. "Rebels" flag poles lined the streets of Duncan, SC. Limited football skills drills were in session from defensive linemen to skill position players to even the placekickers. Football was clearly a year round ritual at Byrnes High.
The trophy presentation was to be performed at halftime of the boy's basketball game. There were approximately 750 attendees present to watch both the boys take on rival Dorman and to witness the presentation of the Army National Guard national ranking trophy by MaxPreps, Smith Hardy and fellow alum, Sergeant First Class Vance Burgess of the South Carolina Army National Guard.
With anxious onlookers and local media primed, Smith Hardy took the microphone to begin the proceedings. Smith talked about Byrnes' phenomenal on-field accomplishments that concluded with their state title and their No. 42 national ranking. Sergeant First Class Vance Burgess then proudly said a few words and then gladly presented the coveted trophy to Head Coach Chris Miller and the rowdy Byrnes football players. Coach Miller expressed his gratitude to MaxPreps, the fans, players, and his staff and to the Army National Guard.
After clearing the basketball court, we then proceeded upstairs to the gym lobby for pictures, local media interviews and to give the players their new commemorative Tour of Champions t-shirts. It was a great evening as Byrnes collected their 3rd Tour of Champions honor and as one Byrnes player said, "we have to keep the tradition going here at Byrnes." Mission accomplished in 2011, and clearly it's already their focus for 2012.