During media day for the Class A state football championships held Monday at the South Carolina High League, Chesterfield coach Steve Taneyhill brought six seniors that had more than 270 starts among them over the past four seasons.
All six had started every game since their sophomore year. Linebacker Brandon Williams will start his 56th consecutive game when the Rams face Lamar for the Class A Division I state championship Friday at 3 p.m. in Orangeburg.
It might be expected that Chesterfield has a rich history of playing in the state finals. But until Taneyhill took the reins five years ago, the Rams had never made it to the championship game. Those six seniors along with eight others are making their fourth consecutive trip to the finals and looking to win for the third season in a row.
Why the turnaround?
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"We changed how they approached football and made it a 12-month-a-year thing," Taneyhill said. "We went in and just started working a lot harder. That in itself was the first thing. We upgraded the facilities and upgraded the uniforms, really a lot of little things that meant a lot to the kids. But the one thing that has happened is we've won. ... Everybody wants to be a part of that. "
Whatever approach taken by Taneyhill, the former flamboyant South Carolina quarterback, is definitely paying off. Chesterfield comes into the game having allowed 53 points in 13 games and has scored 576. The defense is averaging allowing opponents just over 100 yards of total offense per game while in turn the offense is averaging 417 yards per contest.
The Rams have a 3,000-yard passer in junior Seth Truesdale (192-for-313, 3,475 yards and 44 touchdowns), a 1,000-yard rusher in Derrick McQueen (132-1,063 yards and 14 TDs) and two 1,000 receivers in Jonathan Murvin (65-1,388, 18 TDs) and Sergio Johnson (64-1162, 14 TDs).
The defense is led by Williams with 156 tackles with 22 for loss. David Ratliff has 132 tackles and Moon Edwards has 72. Eric McQueen has 11 interceptions with Josh McCall recording 10 picks.
"It's the best team I've had. No matter what happens on Friday, this is my best team. What we've done on offense and defense and the way we've rolled through the season, it's the best team. I said that before the season started. To score over 500 points and just give up 53, that shows you how good they are. "
Taneyhill has placed an emphasis on going to as many 7-on-7 passing leagues that he can. Usually, Chesterfield comes away as one of the better teams, and that includes going up against 4A powers such as Byrnes and Dorman.
Taneyhill credits the commitment of the players.
"This is what we're used to, playing in the big game," Taneyhill said. "What I've come across at Chesterfield, they had never won, and when we started winning, I think the kids and this senior class, has always won. The success has a lot to do with the kids. You have to have players. Everything we've told them they have believed in and done."