DUNCAN, S.C. -- They stood in a circle at midfield last Friday night chanting "864" at the top of their lungs. Byrnes High football players kept repeating their area code because, finally, they could begin thinking about a school from a different area code.
Rebels coaches took great care these past few weeks to keep their players' minds in upstate South Carolina. They didn't want them drifting south to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where one of the most anticipated high school matchups in years will take place Friday. But after Byrnes slammed Gaffney (S.C.), 60-7, the Rebels could begin looking forward to their showdown with
St. Thomas is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the
"It's the biggest around," Byrnes defensive end
St. Thomas Aquinas players have been thinking about this game for a while, too. Raiders safety
"We talked about the game one time," Lattimore said. "He swears they're going to kill us. But we're not going to let that happen."
Judging by the scholarship offers extended to both rosters, the ESPNU broadcast might look more like a college game. Rivals.com considers Lattimore the nation's No. 6 overall prospect. Joyner checks in at No. 19. Byrnes has a pair of defensive ends (
Still, the Rebels know that to earn the respect for 864, they'll have to beat the team that has dominated the 954 for decades. "This is the biggest game I've ever played in," Lattimore said. "They're a great team. They have no weaknesses. We can't make mistakes."