The Beaufort High School Eagles: One Team, One Family

By Wendy Pollitzer

Featured in The Island News

September 16, 2010

Photo Courtesy of Carolina Sports Inc. 1 Donovan Massey Sr. WR 6-1 180 2 Tre Austin Sr. WR 6-1 165 3 Davonte Green Jr. DB 5-10 165 4 Jalin Mack Sr. DB 5-9 155 5 Akeem Smalls Jr. DB 5-11 165 6 Jeremy Robinson Sr. DB 5-10 140 7 Luke Smith Jr. WR 5-10 155 8 James Middleton Jr. DB 5-10-155 9 Beau Brown Sr. QB 6-2 195 10 Jordan Broussard Jr. WR 6-2 175 11 Dymonte Gwathney Sr. WR 6-2 170 12 Alex Gregory Jr. QB 6-4 175 14 Seth Andrews Jr. DB 5-8 125 17 Keith Carpenter Jr. WR 5-9 145 18 Zach Brown Soph. QB 5-10 165 20 Alex Simmons Sr. RB 5-10 185 21 Demeo Holmes RB Sr. 5-10 150 22 Josh McPherson Sr. RB 6-0 195 23 JaClay Mixon Soph. LB 5-9 175 24 Kenan Jackson Sr. LB 5-11 185 25 Calvin Atkins Sr. DB 5-10 165 27 Ryan Allen Jr. RB 5-11 175 32 Ruben Francis Sr. DL 5-11 175 33 Thyrik Legree Jr. LB 6-0 185 34 DVonta Cohen Jr. RB 5-8 170 40 Travis Steinacher Sr. LB 6-0 185 41 Kevin Gess Sr. LB 5-11 160 45 Dalvin Broussard Sr. DL 5-11 255 50 Malcom Dantzler Jr. LB 5-11 165 51 Maliek Maldonado Jr. LB 5-11 195 55 David Tilton Soph. LB 5-10 205 56 Michael Bedwell Jr. DL 6-1 225 57 Alex Weller Jr. OL 6-0 205 58 Logan Alford Sr. OL 5-10 235 59 Rob Dennis Jr. OL 5-11 210 60 Seth Long Jr. OL 6-0 205 61 Edward Johnson Sr. LB 5-11 145 62 Derrick Washington Sr. LB 5-10 165 65 James Ginn Soph. DL 6-2 255 66 DeEndre Jefferson-Fields Jr. DL 5-10 205 68 Jabari Washington Sr. OL 6-1 225 71 Andrew Bennett Sr. OL 5-10 235 72 Darrae Alston Jr. DL 6-3 280 74 Cody Beals Sr. OL 6-2 210 75 Cody Weyandt Sr. OL 5-9 220 76 Tyler Walker Sr. OL 6-4 310 78 Detrell Gantt Sr. DL 6-2 235 79 Benji Calderon Sr. OL 6-2 240 80 Jake Holland Sr. WR 6-0 175 81 Mitchell Stewart Jr. P/K 5-9 155 82 Tyler Cieplowski Sr. TE 6-0 175 83 Henry Jenkins Jr. TE 6-1 165 85 Peter Curtis Jr. DL 6-0 185 87 Kyle Clark Jr. P/K 6-4 160 89 Matthew Hanes Jr. DL 6-1 195

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a Thursday afternoon with the Beaufort High School Eagles Varsity Football Team, coached by Mark Clifford.  What is notable about this team is their commitment to respect each other, their coaches and their community. I was beyond impressed with the players’ overall character and the team’s camaraderie.

Take a step back in time for a bit. Remember your High School days? Remember those Friday nights when the whole town showed up at dusk to cheer on your alma mater? Remember the excitement?  Well Beaufort, you can relive the glory days in your own back yard tomorrow night, when Beaufort High plays Stratford at home.

And what a team to watch this year! Beaufort High has a record number of returning Seniors, eager to make 2010 their winning season.   Quarterback Beau Brown has a huddle of weapon running backs lined up behind him, including D’Vonta Cohen, Alex Simmons, Ryan Allen, Josh McPherson and Demeo Holmes. And talk about big hits! Watch this year’s Defensive Line, and you’ll be aching when you go home.

These young men are from all walks of life, backgrounds and experiences. When I saw them together, as a team, their pasts were erased. They were devoted to one thing: their family. Not their maternal or paternal families… their football family.

From 3:30 to 5pm, the offensive and defensive lines practiced on opposite sides of the field, shouting enthusiastic cheers when an individual made a good play.  Their applause for their teammates was steady and sincere.

An assistant coach yelled, “You gotta bring you’re A-game tomorrow Baby! We got to be sharp!” And the sideline cheered and roared every time he would make an encouraging comment. The emotion was spirited and uplifting.

Coach Mark Clifford

Mark Clifford, in his seventh year as Head Coach at Beaufort High has an overall record of 58-18.

I then followed Coach Clifford into the school and chatted with him for a bit about

his 2010 team.  “This team is tight and close. There is no envy, no jealousy. They have a good time together,” says Clifford.

“This year, we have to pace ourselves. We’re not a flashy team (except our uniforms-they’re flashy)! Ray Jones (the Strength Coach) makes us strong,  our assistant coaches are dedicated to their teams, and we try to win by using proper techniques and being smart.”

Coach Clifford escorted me into the cafeteria, where Tre’ Hall, a native Beaufortonian and businessman, had prepared a mountain of spaghetti for all the players and coaches. It’s a Thursday ritual. A community member fixes supper for the team, and they share fellowship on the eve of a big game.

Before the young men sprinted to the food table, Coach Clifford gave out a few awards for the best Defensive and Offensive Players and Hit of the Week. He does it every Thursday to reward and recognize individuals for going the extra mile during the previous game. The team then gave thanks before their meal. Coach Clifford reminded the young men, “Be thankful for your friends and the people who have led you the right way.”

And, without hesitation, 70+ young men darted to the spaghetti like bulls running the streets of Spain.  Those boys were hungry!

I had the opportunity to sit down with a few players and talk to them about their team, their coaches and their love of football. Their manners were notable, and their enthusiasm was contagious. If I asked a question to the group, they all responded, “Yes Ma’am.” I was impressed with their politeness and equally awed by their respectful disposition. These were charming young men.

The first group with whom I talked called themselves, the “Fantastic Four.” Cody Beals, Tyler Cieplowski, Benji Calderon and Kevin Gess are buddies on and off the field. “We’re always together. In the summer, we’re out on the river everyday, kneeboarding and waterskiing. We’ve become a family,” explained Calderon.

When asked why they appreciated this Thursday night fellowship ritual, Gess stated, ”It gives us a good look at who we’re playing with. No uniforms or helmets. We see the real person off the field. So, we celebrate us being different, but being a team as well.”

And, when asked what the community can do to help the Eagles this season, they all replied together, “Come to the games!”

That was a consistent answer among the players. Quarterback Beau Brown said, “We feed off the crowd. The more people we have rooting for us, the better we play as a team.”

There are, in fact, a number of ways the community can support the Eagles this season.  The first, and most important act, is to come out to the Home games and cheer for the team.  Another way is to join the Beaufort High Booster Club.  There are 70 members now, and member Scott Dennis thinks that number needs to grow significantly.

“There are probably 12 of us that come out on a regular basis and support the team. We need more people to help,” says Dennis. “We need volunteers to help do things like spruce up the field, paint the walkway and help with the overall appearance of the facilities.”

These kids deserve it. They are practicing and playing their hearts out. They need the support of the community.  Another way to help is by purchasing a banner that travels to the baseball field once the football season is over. Business owners can buy a 6×20, 6×10 or 3×5 banner that promotes their company or sends a good luck message to a Beaufort High athlete. Spectrum Graphics prints the banners, and they hang all season long in plain view for thousands to see.

Also, on November 13, the Beaufort High Booster Club will host an Oyster Roast at the Port Royal Community Oyster Shed from 4pm-Until. Cost is $25 per person and $40 per couple. For tickets or more information about the Booster Club, you may call Scott Dennis at 321-0944 or Booster Club President, Jono Lyn Ferreri, at 986-4093.

Booster Club member, Jessica Brown (mother of QB, Beau Brown and Sophomore QB, Zack Brown) summed up the character of the team by saying, “After hosting a pre-season pool party at our house, I would gladly have each and every one of these boys back at my home for a visit any time they wanted to come over. They were all so grateful, polite and respectful. They are good kids.”

It’s a sentiment shared by many. Since Coach Cifford took over as Head Coach seven years ago, he has actively maintained a character-building program that yields intelligent, reverent and hard-working young men.

Lynn Dennis, who met many of these young men at Lady’s Island Middle School, explained to me, “Coach Clifford can transform these kids. He teaches them how to win and lose gracefully. “

And Assistant Coach Terry Thomas agrees. “We started a tutoring program three years ago. If a player has an average of 84% or below, he is assigned a tutor from The National Honor Society, the Language Society or a hand-picked, above-average student.  So far, over 100 athletic and academic scholarships have been awarded to our players.”

Coach Thomas also explains, “There is only one reason this program is successful…Coach Clifford. He supports it 100%. He believes in academics first.”

I can attest to the overall character of this esteemed team.  They are a Class Act! Each of these young men deserves Beaufort’s support and encouragement.  I promise, attending a Home game will inspire you. The 2010 Eagles are the glue. Let us be the strength and force that keeps them bonded!

Agustin Martinez is the Inspirational Speaker that eloquently delivers encouraging words to the team after each Thursday night meal.  He begins, “The war begins tomorrow night Eagles. Are you ready to hit?”

A boisterous team yells back, “Yes Sir!”

After a few positive remarks about the team, he ends with the words, “Beaufort High School Eagles…”

And the proud Varsity Team roars back, “One Team, One Family.”

They are our family too, Beaufort. See you at the Game.

About Wendy

Wendy Pollitzer is a versatile writer living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

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