Fathers and sons: A story of friends, football and long odds

Scott Clawson (second from left) and Bill Hart were best friends and teammates growing up in Victorville, Calif. Their sons Casey Clawson (left) and Christian Hart are seniors at Wando High School and play together for the unbeaten Warriors.

They were best friends in the early 1980s, living in the small Mojave Desert town of Victorville, Calif.

Bill Hart and Scott Clawson had a lot in common. Their fathers were in the Air Force. They were stars on the Victor Valley High School Jackrabbits football team. And they liked to ride around town in Clawson’s 1965 Volkswagen Beetle after a game celebrating a victory, searching for pizza.

“We did everything together,” Hart said. “By our junior year in high school we were best friends. He kept me out of a bunch of trouble. Let’s just put it that way.”

Little did Hart and Clawson know that they would end up in Mount Pleasant and that their sons would be members of the Wando Warriors’ football team 30 years after Hart and Clawson graduated from high school.

Hart’s son, Christian, is the starting quarterback while Clawson’s son, Casey, is the kicker. Both are seniors and have key roles. Hart has passed for 1,767 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Clawson has a chance at the state record for field goals in a season, 19, held by Walterboro’s Will Caison. Clawson has made 11 of 14 field goal attempts and has 59 points heading into Friday’s 7:30 p.m. Region 7-AAAA showdown against Stratford. Both teams are 7-0 with 1-0 records in Region 7-AAAA.

So what are the odds of the elder Hart and Clawson settling down in the same town?

“Never thought it would happen. Never in a million years,” Bill Hart said. “We’re talking about 3,000 miles, almost from coast to coast. I never would have thought it.”

Wando coach Jimmy Noonan concurred.

“I found it to be a quite amazing connection,” he said. “I never knew of the California connections. It’s a small-world senario for sure.”

Hart joined the Navy and ended up in the Lowcountry in the mid-1980s. Clawson attended the Air Force Academy and flew C-141s out of Charleston from 1993-1997. He returned to Colorado Springs and lived there until moving back to Charleston to fly C-17s from 2001 until he retired from the Air Force in 2006.

They reconnected by chance. Hart was working out at a fitness club when he met an Air Force pilot. He told the pilot his best friend in high school was in the Air Force. Hart asked the pilot if he knew Scott Clawson.

The pilot responded, “Not only do I know him, I fly with him.”

The rest is history.

Clawson and his family lived on Johns Island but moved to Mount Pleasant.

“We lived on Johns Island, but all the kids’ activities were in Mount Pleasant,” Clawson said. “We spent 45 minutes a day on Interstate 526 until I told my wife, Bethany, that we should move there.”

Hart coached Clawson’s boys in football. Casey Clawson was a soccer player, but Hart convinced the younger Clawson and his father that he should become a kicker, since the Wando B-team needed one.

“I moved to Mount Pleasant two days before the Wando B-team began practice for the season. Mr. Hart convinced me to try out. I am glad I did,” the younger Clawson said.

The bond between the younger Hart, Clawson and the rest of the seniors is strong.

“We’ve been here a while. We’ve been together for a long time,” Christian Hart said. “We have a chance to be remembered as one of Wando’s greatest teams. But what I will remember is the bond we’ve developed.”

Bethany Clawson and Cynthia Hart will sit in the stands together, but Bill Hart has too much nervous enegry to sit with his best friend from high school.

“I am always bouncing around,” Bill Hart said. “I work the chain gang at home games, and when we’re on the road I am all over the place.”

And in this case, the place is the Lowcountry via the Mojave Desert.