SPARTANBURG — Keiston Smith believed a good year was coming before the regular season started, but he never expected what was about to take place.
The Union County senior quarterback’s expectations of competing for a state championship have been fulfilled. The Yellow Jackets will face Hartsville for the Class 3A title at 6:30 p.m. today at Williams-Brice Stadium.
He’s also been able to pick up a few accolades along the way.
Smith has had the most productive season of his career, passing for 4,340 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushing for 1,054 yards and 19 touchdowns. Those numbers landed him a roster spot in the Shrine Bowl and have given him the state record for most total touchdowns in a season. The record of 57 was held by Bluffton’s C.J. Frazier. Smith broke the mark with a six-touchdown performance at A.C. Flora in the quarterfinals.
Smith hopes to cap the season with Union County’s first state championship. This is the school’s first title appearance since Union, Jonesville and Lockhart high schools consolidated in 2007.
“We’re excited about going and being the first team to go, but we just don’t want to go,” Smith said. “We want to bring the state championship home and be the first state championship class at Union County.”
Unbeaten Hartsville is outscoring opponents by an average of 44-16. The Red Foxes have forced nine more turnovers than they have committed.
“We’re going into the game with the mindset that we’ve got to score every time we get the ball,” he said. “We know we’ll probably get two possessions a quarter, and we’ve got to take advantage of them.”
Wide receiver Victor Ruth leads the team with 78 catches for 1,334 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Kalay Jones has 63 catches for 1,101 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“I’ve got receivers who are playmakers around me,” Smith said. “I get a lot of credit, but they make a lot of plays.”
Smith credits coach Steve Taneyhill for helping him achieve an extraordinary senior year.
“He knows how to coach and get the best out of us,” Smith said.