What a year in Laurens County sports it was...or wasn't.
Two and a half months into 2020, the sports landscape in Laurens County came to a screeching halt. Games were canceled, seasons were shuttered and players were sent home.
However, we did have some sports moments in 2020 that shined brighter than others.
Upon further review, here are the top 10 sports stories in Laurens County for 2020.
After seven years at the helm of the Lady Raiders’ basketball program, Yoneko Allen transitioned to a new role with more administrative responsibilities in 2020-2021.
Laurens District High School (LDHS) announced that JV Head Coach Aianna Kelly would take the reins in leading the girls’ basketball program in 2020.
Laurens Academy swept both of the top awards at the Laurens County Touchdown Club banquet with the Player of the Year being senior quarterback Thomas Lowry and Coach of the Year, Todd Kirk.
Kirk led the Crusaders to the second round of the playoffs, going 8-4 overall and 3-2 in conference play. Lowry passed for 2,697 yards and rushed for 1,578. He rushed for 19 touchdowns and passed for 47 more.
Former Presbyterian College head basketball coach Gregg Nibert was announced as the next head coach of Spartanburg Day School’s varsity boys’ basketball team.
Nibert brings 41 years of coaching experience to SDS, the majority of which was at the collegiate level. He served as the head basketball coach at Presbyterian College for 28 years, earning the distinction of the winningest coach in the program’s history with more than 400 wins during his time at the helm.
Laurens’ Thomas Jones has been ranked as one of the Miami Marlins top 50 prospects but now he is back home after Major League Baseball shut down in March due to the Coronavirus.
Jones, a third-round draft pick of the Marlins in 2017, was at spring training in Jupiter, Florida when the news broke that spring training was being canceled.
Former Laurens Raider and USC Gamecock Summie Carlay announced on Twitter that he would be attending The Citadel after entering the transfer portal after the 2019 season.
Carlay, a 2017 graduate of Laurens District High School and brother of current Citadel Bulldog Wesley Carlay, is a graduate transfer and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Carlay was a member of the field goal unit for the Gamecocks in 2019.
The Presbyterian College football team announced several updates to the 2020 football schedule but then that season was canceled and the Blue Hose picked up six games for a spring season in 2021.
"We are excited about the opportunity to play six times this spring," commented head coach Tommy Spangler. "We are looking forward to getting back to work after the holidays and preparing for March 13th."
Coming home is attractive for many people.
Chris Liner, who left Laurens District High School after six years as head football coach, is from Greenwood. He grew up there and played for the Eagles. Now he will coach them.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” he said. “I honestly didn’t realize how hard it would be.”
Liner’s final season in Laurens was his best. The Raiders went 9-2, won Region 1-5A and a first-round playoff game and captured a string of exciting region games over Greenwood, Westside, defending upper-state champion Hanna and, in a particularly memorable evening, Woodmont.
Clinton High School tennis coach Clovis M. Simmons was recently inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the 28th Annual SCACA banquet at the Greenville Convention Center.
Simmons has been the girls and boys tennis coach at CHS for 30 years. Her girls teams have a record of 435-110, while the boys teams are 390-104. The boys team won the state championship in 2000.
Laurens District High School named Daryl Smith their ninth head football coach in 2020. Smith was Chris Liner’s defensive coordinator in 2019 when the Raiders won the Region 1-5A championship.
Smith, a North Augusta native and 1996 elementary education graduate of Furman University, also holds a master’s degree in education administration. He teaches driver’s education at LDHS.
The receiver that caught arguably the greatest touchdown pass in the history of the Laurens Raiders died in September at the age of 46.
Charles Peterson passed away after a lengthy battle with COVID-19.
Peterson is a legend in the sports history at Laurens District High School. On the football field, he caught the touchdown pass that gave the Raiders a state championship in 1991. On the baseball field, Peterson led the Raiders to the 1990 state championship.