A season to remember

The teams were the same, but 62 years had passed since they met in a state championship game. This time, the result was different.

The Clover High School Blue Eagles now are state champions, the first time in the school's history a football team could lay claim to a state title. Clover beat Beaufort, 23-14, at Williams- Brice Stadium in Columbia Friday in the Class AAAA Division II state championship.

It was sweet revenge for the loss in 1945 to the same team in a state championship. This time, although Beaufort led 14-10 at the end of the first half, the second half was all the Blue Eagles', with five interceptions and a touchdown on their first possession of the half that put them ahead for good.

After Clover won the Upper State title a week earlier, the state championship came to seem more than a game. It was a community event. Just about everyone in Clover -- and even a few distant fans -- rallied behind the team.

This was a significant victory not only for this Blue Eagles team and not only for Clover High but also for everyone who had followed this championship team for the season. Congratulations to all of them.

The Chester High School Cyclones also made a trip to Columbia but came home without a state trophy after a heartbreaking 14-12 loss to Wilson. The fans, however, were no less loyal nor enthusiastic than Clover's.

Hundreds of Chester fans had followed the team throughout its stunning season. And they were there in the stands on Saturday for the Class AAA state championship, Chester's first shot at a state title since 1963, when the Cyclones beat Eau Claire.

As with Clover, the Cyclones' march to Williams-Brice Stadium was a binding experience for the whole community. And, despite the outcome, it was an extraordinary season, one that players are not likely to forget in their lifetimes and one that will be hailed for years to come.

Congratulations to the Cyclones, to Chester High and to all the loyal fans.

Both Blue Eagles and Cyclones made their communities proud during memorable season.