A prideful fan base gathered Tuesday in downtown Orangeburg looking to enthusiastically cheer on its favorite Garnet and Blue college football team at the annual “Rally at The Square."
Mother Nature had a different greeting in mind, however, one that involved showering the Garden City with another helping of heavy summer rainfall that caused flooding at various locals.
It also prevented the South Carolina State football team from leaving campus and joining head coach Buddy Pough, the Marching 101 and cheerleaders and students from middle and high schools in Orangeburg County at the new rally site inside Stevenson Auditorium.
The end result was the cancellation of the sixth “Rally at The Square” after it was moved indoors due to inclement weather for the second time in three years.
“We really intended to be able to move inside, but because of the weather, we just felt like it was better to err on the side of caution,” Pough said. “Anytime you’ve got the possibility of somebody maybe getting hurt because you’re trying to get them out for something of this kind, then you’ve just got to call it off.”
Sponsored by various city and county organizations, the event has served to help kick off the upcoming college and high school football season in Orangeburg County.
It’s also another opportunity for Bulldog fans to see the 2013 S.C. State football team up close prior to the Aug. 31 season-opener against 21st-ranked Coastal Carolina at 6:30 p.m. at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
Having just completed three weeks of preseason workouts, the Bulldogs have started to specifically set their sights on preparing for the defending co-Big South champions.
“It’s one of those kind of measuring sticks where it gives us a chance to build momentum for the rest of the year,” Pough said. “If we can win this football game, then it gives us a chance to say ‘Hey, we beat a quality non-conference opponent that way.’ At that point, we can see how it exactly how it fits as maybe an at-large playoff berth or something of that kind.”
When asked about the quarterback position, Pough said he still expects Richard Cue to remain the starter even with the strong preseason performance of backup TeDarius Wiley.
Despite suffering the program’s first losing season in 12 years at 5-6, the outpour of fan support remains a strong Orangeburg tradition, according to Pough.
“We’ve got one of the better followings of anybody at our level,” Pough said. “Anytime you’ve got people coming out in this kind of weather, you can bet that they’ll come out in any other kind of way.”
S.C. State begins its school year practice schedule at 7:10 a.m. today at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.
The South Carolina State University Ticket Office is accepting applications for season tickets for the 2013 football season. As of Tuesday, 2,340 had been sold.
Three packages are available for purchase:
* Season football package — One reserved seat for all five home games — $130.
* Football/basketball package — One reserved seat for each of the home football and basketball games — $185.
* Youth/alumni football package — One general admission seat for all home football games for the classes of 2009-13 — $100.
Also on sale are tickets for the game against North Carolina A&T at the Georgia Dome; tickets for the Palmetto City Classic against Benedict at Williams-Brice Stadium; tickets for the Atlanta Football Classic; season parking passes ($80) and basketball season tickets ($75).
For more information, call 803-536-8579 or 1-800-298-9157.
Coastal Carolina has not announced a starting defensive line as yet, but it looks like third-year sophomore Calvin Hollenhorst has earned the starting left defensive end job opposite senior end and fellow new starter Dominique Whiteside.
It’s been an impressive climb for Hollenhorst after he played in only three games and registered four tackles as a redshirt freshman last fall.
“It just shows that all the hard work in the offseason pays off,” he said. “We had a bunch of older guys, a bunch of seniors last year, and then during the spring we had a new D-line coach come in so the competition was spread wide open and we all got an even shot.”
Cory Bailey, who took over as the Chanticleers’ defensive line coach this offseason, expects to announce his starters this week and said he feels he has 10 guys for the four positions up front who he has confidence in playing, so there will be a rotation of sorts.
But he acknowledged that Hollenhorst has indeed impressed him to this point.
“He had a great spring,” Bailey said. “He’s worked extremely hard on his body and he’s just kind of continued it through the summer and into camp,” Bailey said. “He’s just a really solid player right now, and I think he’s got potential to become a very good player.”
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-533-5547. For more information about S.C. State athletics, read Grant’s blog “Following the Bulldogs” at thebulldogzone.com. Follow Grant on Twitter@TandDSports.