Spring football practice often represents a clean slate for schools, players and coaches as what happened in the previous fall becomes last season and the fall months away becomes this season.
For Kingstree High School, it represents the start of a new era.
The new era for Kingstree comes as a result of the combination of high school students from Kingstree and C.E. Murray high schools beginning this fall. A decision that was made by the South Carolina Department of Education which currently runs the school district. The reasons behind the merger include a more efficient allocation if the district’s limited resources, address teacher shortages and strengthen the curriculum.
The team held its first practice since the merger was announced May 9.
“I couldn't ask for better first day,” said head coach Brian Smith, who coached football and was the athletics director at C.E. Murray. “This is one of the better first days we've had in a long time.”
In some places, a merging of schools could lead to divisions on a team. Smith does not expect any of these issues as many of the kids know one another, and some are related. Smith said it is less of an adjustment for the kids and more of “an adjustment for the adults.”
Rising senior linebacker Nicolas Brown, who played at C.E. Murray in the fall, said that players “can’t bring negative energy” with them to the new school.
For the coaching staff, Smith brought over a large chunk of his staff from C.E. Murray that made the Lower State Championship game last fall, but also kept some of the Kingstree staff while also adding in new faces.
One of the holdovers from the Kingstree staff is James Price, who will be the linebackers coach. Just as with the kids, much of the staff have off-field relationships, Price said.
“We as a staff were just excited about putting all of these football minds together,” Price said. “[It’s about] making sure we put the best product out there on Friday night.”
For rising senior receiver Khamis Wilson, who played at Kingstree, having some staff continuity was important. “[I know] that they got my back,” Wilson said. “No matter what, they believe in me.” Wilson, who has gone on recruiting trips with Smith, says it was different having him as his coach, but that he felt safe around him.
Kingstree also released their schedule May 9. The Blazers, the new nickname for the school, will host Manning on Aug. 19 for their first ever game. They’ll host Williamsburg County rival Hemingway on Sept. 16 with homecoming a week later. Senior night will be on Oct. 28.
“Something exciting is coming,” Smith said.