Coaching comrades to meet in championship

4 mins read
Above: Beaufort High School Head Football Coach Bruce Lybrand will face his former boss, former Beaufort head coach DeVonte Holloman, now at his alma mater, South Pointe, in the Class 4A State Championship Thursday night in Columbia. Photo by Justin Jarrett.

Beaufort’s former, current coaches facing off in 4A final

By Justin Jarrett

Bryce Lybrand had a good thing going at Charlotte’s Providence High School, where he had spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator, when DeVonte Holloman called.

Lybrand is a few years older than Holloman, but he looked up to him. How could he not? Holloman was a star at South Carolina and was well on his way to becoming one for the Dallas Cowboys when his career was cut short by injury, launching into a budding coaching career that saw him take over a perennially strong Beaufort High squad at age 26.

And Lybrand had ties to the Lowcountry, albeit a bit further up the coast, having spent four seasons as an assistant at Fort Dorchester and one at Wando before getting the chance to call the offense in Charlotte. Toss in a freshman quarterback that Holloman was excited about, and spending the next four years (or more) on Lady’s Island sounded pretty nice.

Fast forward four years, and Lybrand is the head coach at Beaufort, where he has led the Eagles to their first state title game since 2007. The opponent? Holloman’s South Pointe Stallions.

“It will be kind of neat to be down on the field with him for a state championship game,” Lybrand said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity for our kids and for their kids, too.”

It’s understandable if the smack talk has decidedly less edge than usual in the run-up to Thursday’s 7 p.m. clash for the SCHSL Class 4A title at Benedict College in Columbia. After all, many of Lybrand’s Eagles were part of the program during Holloman’s four-year stint in Beaufort — three as the defensive coordinator and one as head coach — and the coaches themselves remain close friends.

DeVonte Holloman

“We talk a good bit throughout the year, just texting each other and bouncing ideas off each other,” Lybrand said. “One of the biggest reasons I came to Beaufort was to work with him. I owe him a lot.”

No one in Beaufort begrudges Holloman’s abrupt departure. His younger sister died in October 2018, and the opening at his alma mater came at precisely the right time for the young head coach to move closer to his family in Rock Hill.

Holloman gave Lybrand his full endorsement when he left, and his former offensive coordinator aced the interview — and he has aced just about every assignment since.

In his first season at the helm, the Eagles lost quarterback Tyler Haley to a midseason injury but rallied to win the Region 7-4A title after a pivot to an option offense that Daniel Phares ran to perfection. Beaufort ran back its region title a year later but was ousted by Myrtle Beach in the Lower State semifinals.

This year, the Eagles vanquished the Seahawks in the same round and walloped West Florence a week later to earn their first trip to the title game in 14 years.

“They’re very disciplined, which is very much a reflection of their coach,” Holloman said of his former team. “He’s done a great job since I left Beaufort, like I knew he would. And here we are in the state championship together.”

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