Downs and touchdowns: The 1943 SHS football team

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 5/6/18

Reflections remembers the 1943 Sumter High football team. This unit consisted of a small, inexperienced group of young men who played football during one of the most trying periods in American history. The seniors on this team realized that at the …

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Downs and touchdowns: The 1943 SHS football team

The Sumter High School football team in 1943 transformed from a group of inexperienced players to a successful unit during a difficult year in American history.
The Sumter High School football team in 1943 transformed from a group of inexperienced players to a successful unit during a difficult year in American history.
SUMTER ITEM FILE PHOTO
Posted

Reflections remembers the 1943 Sumter High football team. This unit consisted of a small, inexperienced group of young men who played football during one of the most trying periods in American history. The seniors on this team realized that at the end of their final year they would become eligible to enter the most devastating world conflict in history. They began the season facing one of the school's most difficult schedules without any proven stars to lead them. What they accomplished borders on the incredible. The intent of this article is to review the season and allow the reader to witness the development and maturing of these young men into a successful and cohesive unit.

The season began on a difficult note as the Gamecock 11 faced a "hard-driving and considerably larger Lake View football team and lost by a score of 14 to 6. Glynn Goodson and Randy Pressley caused some anxious moments for the visiting Gators. Johnnie McMillian, Sumter's young coach, realized in short order that things had to change or this could be a long season.

"Sumter tackled the Rock Hill Bearcats on their home field in their second game and much to the surprise to the large group of loyal fans who made the trip shut out the highly favored Rock Hill players 12 to 0. They were pleased that their hard work had paid dividends.

"The birds were led by the efforts of Tommie Hughes and Glynn Goodson who continued to lead the squad in overall play. The team ventured to Columbia, and the Columbia High Caps lived up to their billing by overpowering the Gamecocks 20-7. Poor punting hurt the birds as they were forced to fight with their backs to the wall on numerous occasions. This game would prove to be the turning point of the season for the Gamecock 11.

"The Sumter team would next play Olympia High and go on a scoring binge running up 39 points to Olympia's 6. Many loyal fans suspected that Sumter was looking ahead to the game against the Charleston Bantams who were perennial state champions.

"The game was a team effort as the entire team shared in the scoring and defense.

"The Gamecocks, before a crowd estimated to exceed 4,300 fans, outplayed the Charleston unit 27-0. The win was a total team effort and delighted students as well as the thousands of fans who attended the County Fair.

"The young players could hardly wait to make the trip to Orangeburg to play their traditional rival in the Edisto City. The final score saw Sumter score 29 unanswered points for their second consecutive shutout.

"The Gamecocks would end their season defeating arch-rival Florence High 26-12 before 4,000 fans.

"The Sumter team put on an offensive display, gaining 387 yards on the ground and through the air while amassing a total of 22 first downs. One of the highlights of the season was the selection of Coach McMillian and Tommy Hughes along with Lynwood Vaughn to participate in the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine All-Star Football Game held in Charlotte. Hughes and Vaughn would be picked to start the game which South Carolina lost 20-7 before a crowd of 12,000 fans.