Abbeville got things started for the 2018-19 school year in an emphatic way, with the school’s football team winning the fourth consecutive and 10th total state championship in football.

The Panthers’ other sports teams also turned in successful seasons to make Abbeville’s athletic department one of the most successful in the Lakelands.

Four straight

state championshipsAbbeville’s football season hung in the balance just before senior Cortney Jackson ran a kickoff back for a touchdown in the final minute of the Upper State title game against Southside Christian. Jackson’s heroics lifted Abbeville to a 28-21 win.

The next game wasn’t even close.

The Panthers’ running game blasted Barnwell, 48-14, to capture Abbeville’s fourth consecutive state championship and finish the season undefeated. The Panthers’ senior class finished high school having won a state title each year.

The 2018 senior class for Abbeville was one of the most talented in school history. The class will have four players in college football next fall: Nate Temple (Pittsburgh), Cortney Jackson (Coffeyville Community College), Jake Hill (Coastal Carolina), Tyreke Campbell (Newberry).

Also in the fall, Abbeville’s girls tennis team emerged to win Region 2-2A under the leadership of second-year coach Kaylor Arant.

Smalley secures four-peatChandler Smalley is just the 20th wrestler in state history to win four consecutive state titles.

Smalley did it in dominant fashion, pinning his opponent in the 145-pound state title bout in the first period. Smalley, a Dixie High student who wrestles at Abbeville, celebrated the title before a crowd of Dixie green and Abbeville gold in February at Anderson Events Center.

After graduating from Dixie, Smalley is set to join Lander’s new wrestling program. He was named the Index-Journal’s Player of the Year in wrestling for 2018-19.

Paul’s buzzer-beater shocks St. Joe’sTitus Paul made sure the excitement didn’t stop after the fall for Abbeville. With the season on the line against St. Joseph’s in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs, Paul grabbed a rebound and sunk a mid-range jumper as time expired.

Paul’s shot was the lasting memory from a productive 2018-19 season in which Abbeville finished second in Region 2-2A, which was packed with talented teams. The Panthers finished second in the region, ahead of a stacked Saluda team and a resurgent Ninety Six team.

The Panthers lost to Andrew Jackson, the eventual Upper State champion, in the third round.

Baseball, softball succeed in springAbbeville’s baseball team was the last team standing among three Lakelands schools in Class 2A.

The Panthers didn’t win Region 2-2A, but made up for it with a district title win against Christ Church. The Panthers eked out a win against Christ Church earlier in the district, but dominated 10-0 in the district title game.

Abbeville fell to the eventual champions, Landrum, in the first round of the Upper State playoffs. A loss to Blacksburg in the second game spelled the end of the season.

There was a spring state title for one Abbeville Panther, though. Landrum coach Daniel Little, a 2004 Abbeville High grad, guided the Cardinals to a state title after two games against Oceanside Collegiate.

Abbeville’s softball team represented Region 2-2A’s strength in becoming the third team from the region to make the Upper State playoffs.

Pitcher Reaghan Steifle powered the Panthers through the district playoffs. The Panthers beat Buford twice, once in the district semifinal and once in the district final, to reach the Upper State playoffs.

The Panthers fell to Ninety Six, the eventual state champion, and to Batesburg-Leesville to end the season.

The future remains bright for a young Abbeville squad. The team returns Steifle and several more key players next season.

Contact sports writer Skylar Rolstad at 223-1813 or follow him on Twitter @SkyRolSports.