As the high school football season kicks off, Santa Fe and Newberry will renew their annual opening-week rivalry Friday night, with each team looking to start the season on the right foot.
The last time these two teams met, Newberry began their season with a home win, defeating Santa Fe 21-12. That game is part of an impressive record Newberry has against Santa Fe recently, winning eight out of the past 10 meetings.
This season’s match-up sees two new head coaches making their debuts in this rivalry. Cliff Harrell is Santa Fe’s new head coach after spending four season’s as Oakleaf’s defensive coordinator. Meanwhile, Richard Vester is now in charge of the Newberry program after spending three season as an assistant coach at Jay High School.
Both coaches like what they’ve seen throughout the offseason leading up to this game.
For Harrell, he says the transition has been smooth because of the familiarity the team has already with some of his terminology and techniques. This in turn, he says, has helped the team, “hit the ground running”. That will be key for a team looking to build off an impressive season last year, in which they went 9-4 and made it to the second round of the state playoffs.
For Vester, he hopes his team comes out “fast and physical”, hoping to implement his new style on the team. It helps that he has a couple of highly touted recruits on his defensive line. Both Ja’len Parks and Cory Durden are four-star, Florida State commits who make the Newberry defensive line a difficult challenge for any team that faces them. The unit will lead a Newberry team looking to rebound from a season in which they missed the playoffs after losing four out of their last five games.
The two teams will look to claim bragging rights when they face off at Newberry High School at 7:30 p.m.