Watch: South Pointe football coach Strait Herron’s pregame speech before the 4A state championship
Some of York County’s best-ever football coaches and players will be inducted into the county’s sports hall of fame on Thursday, May 16, alongside a distance runner that would probably lap them all.
Jadeveon Clowney is the headliner football player going into the hall, along with Justin Worley and Spencer Lanning. Strait Herron and Kyle Richardson are two of, if not the two most successful, high school football coaches in county history. And Beth Greene-Leone is one of the best distance runners in Fort Mill High and Winthrop University history.
The ceremony will take place at the American Legion on Heckle Blvd. in Rock Hill. Tickets cost $25 each. They’re on sale now until May 7 and can be purchased in Rock Hill at WRHI offices at 142 North Confederate Ave., or Visit York County offices at 130 East Main St.
Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott will be the featured speaker at the induction ceremony.
Clowney is the most imposing athlete in York County history, his combination of athleticism, size and power completely unique in most people’s memories. He emerged on the scene as a towering freshman and gradually developed into the top high school recruit in the nation by his senior year at South Pointe, 2010. Clowney stayed in-state, opting to attend South Carolina over basically any other school in the country he wanted. He was integral in the Gamecocks’ continued ascension into national prominence, but wrapped up his college career a year early by declaring for the 2014 NFL Draft. Houston made Clowney the first pick overall, and, after fighting off injuries his first few years, Clowney has become a reliable All-Pro edge rusher, one of the most disruptive defensive players in the league. He’s the father of a son, Jahlil.
Famous for: What do you pick? Let’s go with becoming the first NFL No. 1 draft pick from Rock Hill.
Headline moment: “The Hit.” If you search “Jadeveon Clowney” on Google, it’s very likely the first result is a video of, or story about, Clowney’s unforgettable tackle of a Michigan running back during the 2013 Outback Bowl.
Herron said several years ago that he’d been turned down for over a dozen head coach jobs before he was given the chance to take over the South Pointe program in 2011. Too bad for the other dozen. Herron led the Stallions to five state titles in eight years at South Pointe, including a run of four straight at one point. His 2017 team finished 15-0 and ranked top-10 nationally. Herron was named U.S. Army All-American Bowl national coach of the year following that season, just one of the numerous coaching awards he received from The Herald, and from statewide and national organizations. Herron recently left South Pointe to launch the football program at Legion Collegiate Academy, in Rock Hill. He and his wife, Brigitte, have a son, Dalton, and daughter, Sydney.
Famous for: It’s tough to nail down with complete certainty, but Herron appears to be the fastest head coach in South Carolina high school football history to win 100 games.
Headline moment: Leading South Pointe to a fourth-straight state title in 2017. Herron called out his team for lacking leadership at the beginning of the season, but was able to steer an incredibly talented group through a 15-0 campaign.
An injury curtailed Spencer Lanning’s soccer career at York Comprehensive High School, and fortuitously launched a football kicking career that took him to the NFL. Lanning walked on at South Carolina but quickly became the top kicker in the program, handling punting and placekicking duties by his second year in Columbia. Lanning was a team captain his senior year and was nominated for a number of kicking awards, while also making SEC Academic Honor Roll for the second straight season. Lanning got an NFL shot with the Cleveland Browns and made the most of it, averaging close to 44 yards per kick in both of his two full seasons with the team. Lanning and his wife, Brittany, have a daughter, Bella.
Famous for: During a September, 2013 Cleveland Browns’ win over Minnesota, Lanning became the first player in 45 years to punt, kick an extra point and throw a touchdown pass in the same game.
Headline moment: Lanning’s viral social media moment came in 2014 when Pittsburgh Steelers return man Antonio Brown accidentally kicked him in the face, while Lanning was trying to make a tackle. Brown was flagged for unnecessary roughness.
Beth Greene Leone
Leone was one of the most dominant women’s distance runners in the area for much of the 1990s, whether during her high school career at Fort Mill, or her college running days at Winthrop. She was The Herald’s All-Area runner of the year in 1994 and 1995, before earning All-Big South Conference honors all four years in college. She was the Big South Conference 800 meters champion in 1999, and was also named to the Big South women’s cross country and indoor track and field All-Decade teams for the 1990s. Leone is a cancer survivor, and currently teaches fifth grade in Springfield, Va. Leone is married to Robert M. Leone and they have two children, Bobby (12) and Reagan (9).
Famous for: Leone still holds Winthrop track and field’s school record for the outdoor 800 meters, set in 1997, the longest standing record in the program’s book, according to Winthrop coach Ben Paxton.
Headline moment: Capping her college running career with an 800-meter championship in 1999.
Kyle Richardson had the unenviable task of following legendary Northwestern football coach Jimmy Wallace in 2011. But Richardson not only led the Trojans to two state titles in the next five years, he also grew the program into a nationally recognized operation that achieved multiple national rankings during his tenure and also became known for Richardson’s “Win Today” academic program. The Belmont, N.C. native was named Nike’s South Carolina coach of the year in 2013, and the Carolina Panthers’ coach of the year in 2014. Such was Richardson’s success that it was hardly surprising when Clemson came calling in spring 2016, offering him an offensive analyst job, where he has been since. He is the father of two daughters, Lexi Grace and Presley Ann.
Famous for: Working with quarterbacks. Richardson played a huge role in the development and success of Justin Worley and Mason Rudolph, two Trojans QBs that went on to Power 5 schools, and, later, the NFL.
Headline moment: Calling a trick play that led to a touchdown catch for offensive lineman Austin Hufnagle late in the 2015 state championship victory, a perfect example of the Trojans’ offensive creativity and machine-like ruthlessness with Richardson at the helm.
Will King might be the first Air Raid quarterback in Rock Hill’s city history, but Worley was arguably the best. Worley succeeded King as quarterback at Northwestern in 2008 and led the Trojans to an undefeated 2010 season and a state title. Worley threw 156 touchdown passes during his Northwestern career and won a mountain of awards, including Gatorade national player of the year in 2010. He made starts each year of his four-year career at Tennessee, and later was a member of the Chicago Bears’ practice squad in 2015.
Famous for: Worley endured a tough time at Tennessee, playing for three head coaches in four years. But he led the Vols back to a bowl game his senior year, despite playing behind a leaky offensive line.
Headline moment: Worley’s five touchdown passes in five minutes to blow open the nationally-televised 2010 Northwestern-South Pointe game may never be forgotten in Rock Hill.
Rusty Adkins, Bob Bolin, Bob Jenkins, Kendra Mackey, Lindberg Moody, Tommy Oates, Rick Sanford, Walter Jenkins, William Lumpkin, Bob Martin, Walter Reynolds, Lin Hamilton, Horace Tuberville, James Walser, Ian Davidson Jr., Eddie Freed, Kathy Baker Guadagnino, Fred Hambright, George Lyons, Randy Smith, Jeff Burris, Rosalind Jennings, Robert Jones, James Kiser, Ernest McCarter, Keith Richardson, Yodell Winborn, Leslie Adams, Ernest Dixon, Gerald Dixon, Jimmy Wallace, Bill Nies, Gus Allen, Stan Spears, David Angel, Doug Bennett, William B. Banks, Jim Ringer, Willie Stephenson, Robert “Whitey” Adams, Steve Boyd, Dennis Partlow, Arsonia Stroud, Bill Few, Robert Hope, Steve Mellon, Tim Jones, Bill Sweatt, Donald Arrants, Sam Foster, John Godbold, Hank Hammond, Jay Killian, Clifford Boyd, David Branch, Lafeyette Currence, Charlie Rymer, Julie Davis Sawyer, Ron Davis, Hugh Mauldin, Ivory Latta, Jimmy Wallace, Morris Marty Long, Willie Ware Jr., Tom Crump, Tommy Gaither, Chris Hope, Johnathan Joseph, Debra Osborne, Benjamin Watson, Evans “Buck” George, Buddy McCarter, Bennie Bennett, Taylor Barrett Cook, Josh Davis, Stephon Gilmore, Cookie Massey.