As the final seconds ticked off in last Friday night's season-opening football game between James Island and Hanahan, Trojans placekicker Reggie Rosario - whose 35-yard field goal won the game for James Island - could not help but think of former teammate Tristen Allen.
Summerville at Cane Bay
Ashley Ridge at James Island
Stratford at Berkeley
West Ashley at Bishop England
White Knoll at Wando
Carolina Forest at Fort Dorchester
Hanahan at Timberland
Stall at St. John's
Hunter-Kinard-Tyler at Cross
at North Charleston
Baptist Hill at Garrett Tech
Batesburg-Leesville at Woodland
Lincoln at C.E. Murray
Northwood at Pinewood Prep
Palm. Christian at Porter-Gaud
Holly Hill at First Baptist
Coastal Christ. at Chas. Collegiate
Dorchester at Calhoun Acad.
James Island Christian
at St. John's Christian
Cathedral at Richard Winn
Laurens at Faith Christian
Pee Dee at Colleton Prep
Goose Creek at Pickerington Central (Ohio), 4 p.m.
Rosario and Allen were teammates in 2013, Allen's senior season. Allen was a starting linebacker, Rosario was his backup and they developed a solid friendship.
Rosario, known more for his ability as a soccer player, decided to forgo football in 2014 to focus on club soccer in the fall. The decision did not sit well with Allen, who continued to push Rosario to stay in football and be a part of the rebuilding process under new head coach Ike Allred.
In July, Allen died tragically in a drowning accident. Rosario, at the time still not a member of the football team, had a change of heart. Minutes after a memorial service for Allen, Allred received a phone call.
"I could barely understand what he was saying because he was crying, but he was basically telling me he made a mistake and that he wanted to play football," said Allred. "He said he would do whatever it took to get back on the team and he did it. I have no doubt that he was doing it for Tristen and that's OK with me. He wanted to play as a tribute to his fallen teammate."
Rosario called last Friday's win "huge" for the school and the community. He realizes how football can be a rallying point, and says he learned that from Allen.
"It's because of Tristen that I am even on the team," said Rosario. "He loved football so much and he loved James Island. His death hit me hard and I decided that I wanted to honor him by playing football again.
"To be able to make a kick to win a game, it's very special. It was very emotional after the game because I knew Tristen was happy."
Allen's death was one of several the James Island Charter High community has had to deal with in the last six months. In May, the brother of NFL receiver and James Island alumnus Roddy White - Tyrone Moore - was shot and killed outside a nightclub.
In June, a former student, 19-year old Brandon Bennett, was stabbed and killed in his home. Earlier this month, former football player Matthew Gaither died in a small plane crash at the Mount Pleasant airport, and two days before school started, on Aug. 16, rising senior Kylie Gillette died in an automobile accident.
"Bad things happen in life," says Allred, whose team plays host to Ashley Ridge on Friday. "Bad things to good people and when the rug gets pulled out from under you, it's how you respond that determines how life will go on. As coaches, we look for these teachable moments every day. We never want it to be the loss of a teammate, but we have to use these situations to guide these young people.
"High school kids, they feel invincible and untouchable. I remember feeling that way when I was in high school. But the reality is bad things happen and we have to deal with those bad things in a positive way."
Allred never had the opportunity to coach Allen, but knew him long enough to understand how important football, and the James Island community, was to him.
"Tristen was very active during the spring in terms of talking to kids and trying to get everyone to rally around the football season, even though he would not be playing," said Allred. "Tristen always wanted football to bring the James Island community together. He loved James Island and he loved this school."
James Island Charter High School football coach Ike Allred. (Wade Spees/Staff0×
The James Island Charter High School football team is wearing “41” on their helmets honoring former players Tristen Allen and Matt Gaither, who both wore the number and who both died tragically this year.×
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