People to Watch

Together We Rise…..Make Them Say Our Name

They had only 15 seconds left to accomplish something that had not been done since 1969. After being behind for most of the game, the chances of a Westside High School football State Championship victory seemed small—especially to the naysayers who gave up on them after losing the first game of the season. But for the team, who was laser focused on proving the naysayers wrong and having their names put in the history books so that everyone would have to say their names every time they said “2023 SC High School Football State Champs,” they never doubted that they would bring this title home. So, in the last 15 seconds of the game, the Westside High School football team secured their names in high school sports history with a 34-32 victory over South Florence High School. 

In his first year as head football coach at Westside High School, Brian Lane has taken the team, the school, and the community, to the pinnacle of high school football success.

“This season has been special. It is very unusual for a new coach to enter a school and win a state championship the first year. That shows you the level of pride and support this community has shown. The student body and faculty filled the stands each week and this helped inspire the team,” says Lane. 

Coach Lane has been a football coach for 25 years and a head coach for 17 years. His record is 142-64 and he has previously served as head coach at South Florence, Woodruff, Byrnes, and Clover. He describes Westside as a “great experience,” and says that the school and community have welcomed he and his family with open arms. Beginning his tenure as head coach at Westside, he felt there was the potential for a state championship.

“I felt like the pieces were there to win,” says Lane. I added several coaches to the staff to help bring in my culture. The kids took to it fast and that helped us get over the hump.”

Lane has created a team culture based on 5 specific things—energy, toughness, discipline, family, and consistency. 

“We talked about these things weekly, and we understood we had to represent Anderson, SC to the fullest,” notes Lane. 

Throughout the season, members of the team put all of these cultural components into practice on and off the field. Says Lane,

“Cutter Woods (Quarterback), being a leader of our football team, would go pick up teammates and take them to church on Sundays. This helped create a sense of unity and brotherhood. When Tank Boston (Wide Receiver) injured his thumb and had to wear a cast on his hand for 7 weeks, our guys didn’t miss a beat. They rallied around each other and picked up any slack. Tank also played defense and contributed.” 

After losing their first game of the season and feeling like they were not being respected as a team that could win the state championship, the team used that to fuel their motivation and determination to prove that they are a team that can do what others have not done in 54 years. 

“We talked about “I Believe in Us” all year. I told them we have not won a state championship since 1969 and no one would think you could do it until you do it. So these guys went out every week trying to prove the outsiders wrong,” says Lane. 

Fortunately, the skeptics were in the minority, and the support of the school, fellow students, and the entire Anderson community was an important source of encouragement for the team. Not only did this entire experience create unity with the football team, but it created unity for everyone who supports them. 

“This win definitely did create unity in the community. We had an in-school parade where the student body and faculty cheered us on as we walked around the school before we left for the championship game. Plus, the town of Anderson lined up on the side of the road from Westside High School to I-85. We also had a police escort…..it was incredible!” says Lane. 

This experience has been one that will impact every player on the team now and moving forward in their life after high school. Lane noted that the experience is bigger than the championship. 

“These guys will be brothers for life. Winning the way we won, with 15 seconds left in the game and having to come from behind most of the game, will give these guys the determination to never give up in life.” 

For Lane, winning the state championship was a dream come true, and one that only came after years of the same hard work and perseverance that he instilled in his team. 

“I told my players to never give up on your dreams. It took me 142 wins as a head coach to finally get a state championship win. Keep grinding.” 

For the fans and supporters of the team, Lane and his players have a message.

“We love you and thanks for all the love you showed us. We are going to work hard for you every day so we can try to make you proud again next year.”

If the 2023 season is any indication of what this team can accomplish, we have no doubt that we will be saying their names all over again next year.  

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