UNION – He is the top ranked quarterback in South Carolina, has been selected to the Shrine Bowl and today his team will play for the 4A State Championship.
On Wednesday, Union County quarterback Keiston Smith added another accolade to his ever growing resume when he was named SCVarsity.com Player of the Year.
Head Coach Steve Taneyhill was not surprised by the announcement.
“Not surprised at all,” he said. “With the year he’s having, he should be everyone’s Player of the Year.”
Smith has racked up 5,394 yards of total offense and has accounted for 59 passing and rushing touchdowns so far this season.
So how does it feel to be the big man on campus?
“It feels great,” Smith replied. “It’s an amazing blessing that I’m thankful for. I’ve had an awesome season that I never thought I’d have.”
Aside from the hard work you’ve put in this season, what other variables have contributed to your success?
“Coach T put me in the position to accomplish all this,” said Smith. “We started off on a bad note but things changed and worked out for the best. I’m thankful for that and for the offense as a whole for helping me show off my talents, especially my great receivers. I’ve got four playmakers around me. I get a lot of credit but they’re the ones that make the big plays.”
What do you think you have to do to lead your team to a State Championship tonight?
“Execute,” he said simply.
Anything you’d like to say to the fans of Union County football?
“Come out and support us,” he said with a grin. “We’re going to go out and lay it all on the line-for the ‘U’! Hopefully we’ll bring back a State Championship.”
Week 15 — Headed to State
Union County looks to ride momentum and a hot-handed quarterback all the way to a State Championship title with undefeated Hartsville standing in its way.
Senior signal caller Keiston Smith has thrown for 4,340 yards and rushed for over 1,000 so far this season. The Jackets’ battery of wide receivers — Kalay Jones, Victor Ruth, T.J. Foster and Chris Booker — see plenty of pass plays every week in the high powered, high flying offense.
Senior running back Trayvond Davis has added 142 carries for 768 yards and five touchdowns this season.
“We’ve just got to make plays,” said Davis. “If our offensive line opens up holes, we should be fine.”
Hartsville Head Coach Jeff Calabrese said he’s familiar with Union County’s new head coach, Steve Taneyhill, and the type of offense he employs.
“I saw what Steve did at Chesterfield,” said Calabrese. “I know how much work he puts in with those quarterbacks and those athletes. I’ve seen Keiston and their (Union County’s) receivers do things that kids at Chesterfield did after playing for several years. It means that their learning curve has really been accelerated and they’ve been able to pick up what Steve’s trying to do very fast. That’s a scary thing.”
Unlike Union County, Hartsville prefers to work from the ground. The Red Foxes run a Wing-T style offense that has gained 5,362 yards rushing.
The Jackets made some defensive changes just prior to their playoff run that has played a large part in their late season success.
“We had to do something different,” said Taneyhill. “We put some speed on the field and it’s really helped us create more turnovers because we’re getting to guys a little bit. We’re not giving up that big 60- or 70-yard run. Just changing the package a little bit has really been the difference, I think.”
“Everybody always doubts our defense because we give up so many points but in the playoffs we’ve done a lot better,” said linebacker Jared Fowler. “We fly to the ball, we play together and we trust each other.”
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia
Who: Union County vs. Hartsville
On the air: WYCW Channel 62, WBCU 1460 AM