Nate Temple will always remember his senior year at Abbeville as the most enjoyable year of his career.
Temple, a sophomore defensive end at Pitt, won the state championship that year, completing four-in-a-row for Abbeville and finishing out his high school days with his younger brother Cruz as a teammate and his father as a coach.
“My senior year will forever and always be my favorite year of football, because it was always me as a starting defensive end, Cruz as a starting linebacker and my dad as the coach,” Nate said. “I will never probably ever have that again.”
The Temple family now has three generations of state champions. Nate and Cruz are out of high school now with six state titles between them, and their father Tony Temple has won just as many state championships as a coach, plus one more as a player. Nate and Cruz’s grandfather is the late Dennis Botts, the state title-winning coach who the school named its field after.
Now, for the first time in six years, Temple will coach on the Abbeville staff without one of his sons on the field.
“Definitely will miss having them out there,” Tony said. “It’s definitely a special thing, being out there with your sons and having the chance to watch them mature and play.”
Nate, a 6-foot-4 defensive end who played in the Shrine Bowl, said Tony’s influence on him helped him reach his potential.
“One thing I did when I went to school was remember where I came from,” Nate said. “I came from Abbeville, it’s a winning program and it’s about heart and hard-nose football. He (Tony) was always there to talk to and he’d help me out in the gym. He’s been there from the mental aspect, he just can’t be there physically.”
Cruz, a linebacker, is a 2020 Shrine Bowler, and is headed to East Carolina next fall.
From a young age, Botts’ legacy was apparent to Nate and Cruz. Nate said he grew up with his youth football coaches telling him stories about their playing days under Botts. The Panthers have a tradition of walking down the yellow steps to take the field before each home game, and at the bottom of the steps they touch a helmet in memorial to Botts, who died tragically in 2003.
“That definitely meant a lot to them, being able to play on Dennis Botts Field and going down and rubbing that helmet,” Tony said. “That represented him and his tradition and so I definitely feel like both of them no doubt played the game the Abbeville way, the hard-nose, physical way.”
For Cruz, coming into the Abbeville program as the youngest son could have been daunting, but he felt comfortable throughout his time in garnet and gold because of his family’s history.
“I felt like I could play the game at more of a high-level like knowing they’ve been in the program and it kind of runs in the blood,” Cruz said.
Tony made his impact on the Abbeville program as a player, quarterbacking the Panthers to the 1991 state championship with Botts as coach.
Tony also played defensive end in high school. He served as Greenwood High’s defensive coordinator when Nate and Cruz were growing up, and he’s sure their interest in the defensive side of the ball came from that early introduction to the game.
“I think the physicality of it, me being a defensive coordinator, all that really played into the role of what they like about the game and the physical aspect of it,” Tony said.