The Cross football team will bury assistant coach Antonio Simmons on Friday, then begin practicing a week later for the upcoming season.

It will be a tough transition.

The 2012 season was marked by triumph as Simmons had a key role in helping Cross win the first state football championship in school history. Now there is heartache as the team prepares to say one final farewell to its coach who was only 34 years old when he died of an apparent heart attack Sunday.

His funeral is 11 a.m. Friday at Berkeley High School.

“It’s just so hard to put into words what he meant to this school, this community,” Cross athletic director and head football coach Sean Wright said. “Our kids grew to respect and emulate what Antonio Simmons stood for.”

Simmons attended Berkeley High School and played for coach Jerry Brown, helping the Stags win two state titles (1994, ’96) during the school’s golden era. He was a three-year starter.

He signed with Charleston Southern and had a very productive college career, earning All-America status.

Simmons starred in the Buccaneers’ secondary from 1997-2000 for former CSU head coach David Dowd.

“Antonio passed on the characteristics — well-respected and tremendous character — he had as a football player and as a student-athlete, to the young men he coached,” Dowd said in a statement. “He was a favorite in the locker room as teammate, then as a coach wherever he went. I found a photo of Antonio holding my son — now 14 years old, then 2 or 3. He was a very caring and loving person. He impacted young peoples’ lives and his community.”

He began his coaching career at Fort Dorchester, and then moved to Kingstree before taking a job as an assistant at Cross in 2009.

He also coached track and field at Cross.

Thursday Night Lights

The high school football season kicks into high gear in a few weeks, and for the fourth straight year local television station WMMP will broadcast high school football games live on its Bojangles Thursday Night Lights.

Here are the games that have been set: Aug. 29: Cane Bay at Summerville. Sept. 5: Baptist Hill at Burke. Sept. 12: Wando at Colleton County. Sept. 26: North Charleston at Bishop England. Oct. 3: Berkeley at James Island. Oct. 10: Augusta Christian at Porter-Gaud. Oct. 24: Beaufort at Ashley Ridge. Oct. 31: West Ashley at Goose Creek. Nov. 7: Fort Dorchester at Ashley Ridge.

The games on Sept. 19 and Oct. 17 have not been determined.

Colleton names coach

Kenneth Green’s retirement as a basketball coach didn’t last long. One season to be exact.

Green sat out last season to spend more time with his family, but will return to the court this year as the coach of the Colleton County Cougars.

Green, who most recently was at Woodland, has 28 years’ experience and has coached at numerous schools, including Berkeley, Cross and Macedonia, where he won state championships in 1990 and ’91.

He replaces Michael Tew, who resigned to take the head coaching job at Nation Ford in Rock Hill.