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Falcons fly to first-ever state title with win over North Myrtle Beach

Updated: Dec. 6, 2020 at 12:19 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Falcons finally fly to the mountain top.

A.C. Flora earned its first football state title Saturday night, with a convincing 42-7 victory over North Myrtle Beach in the SCHSL Class 4-A state title game. They scored 42 unanswered to become the first team since 1970 in Richland One to hoist the championship trophy.

“We knew all summer long what kind of special team that we had and the potential that we had for a great year,” said Falcons second-year head coach Dustin Curtis. “I’m not going to lie. Summer was hard because we knew if we did not play a really great team, that you guys got to watch for nine games, wouldn’t get to showcase who they were.”

Amid a pandemic, many challenges were facing many teams around the state. All Coach Curtis wanted was a chance for his team to compete for a championship. For this group of seniors, the win completes a remarkable transformation of the program. The Falcons went winless in 2017. Fast forward to 2020 and they go 9-0 to win a state title.

“It’s just been so long,” said a tearful and overjoyed senior offensive lineman Billy Avant. “We never won a state title in school history. Our freshman year, we went 0-10. Nobody believed in us. This whole season everybody doubted us. We didn’t even know we’d have a season. It just feels good to have a trophy.”

“We worked for this,” said senior defensive lineman Jaylin Brown. “Nobody handed this to us. We’ve been working for this all summer. Put a ring on it. It’s what Beyonce says, isn’t it?”

“It’s about them,” said Curtis about his seniors. “The leadership we’ve had, the class, the character, we’re going to miss them, dudes.”

The character of the team was on full display to start the game. The Falcons fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage. North Myrtle Beach capitalized on the Falcons’ misfortune to score the game’s opening touchdown.

“We got to keep our heads up,” said senior quarterback Ethan Beamish. “It’s the first play of the game. We came out, especially in the second half, and dominated.”

“You can’t dwell on negative things or mistakes,” emphasized Curtis. “You stay intentional and positive, and they feed off you.”

The positive energy resulted in one of the more dominating performances in a state championship game. The Falcons piled up 460 yards on offense while scoring 42 unanswered points. Beamish was electric at the helm throwing for 272 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his touchdown passes went to wideout Eriq Rice, who finished with seven catches for 117 yards.

“The community here is just unbelievable,” said Beamish. “My teammates, my coaches, I want to thank everybody for accepting me here. As a transfer senior year, it’s unbelievable.”

The offensive line paved the way on the ground as well. A.C. Flora rushed 188 yards and three more scores. Defensively, they held the Chiefs to under 100 yards in the first half and picked off two passes for the game. It was a great overall team effort to cap off the dream season.

“They’ve earned this,” added Curtis. “It’s our job to lead kids to put them in a position to be successful. The kids win the games. To see these kids buy into an overall vision is really special. That’s why it overcomes you, because you put a plan in place, when it comes to fruition like this, in the manner that it came, it’s a lot of fun.”

“We worked our tails off since the summer,” said Brown. “It’s a blessing. No better way to go out than the way we did. I love my boys.”

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