MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - In the south, Friday nights are run by high school football, and the stories have been told for decades. In the early 70’s, when the desegregation of T.C. Williams High School took place, it didn't come with welcome response. But the thing about football is that it is something for people to rally around; which is exactly what the Titans did, armed with a new quarterback in Ronnie 'Sunshine' Bass.
"(We) Didn't gel right away, but it didn't take long to realize everyone was there for the same reason," explained Bass of the Titans’ 1971 season.
Once the victories piled up – things got better
"You know, winning solves a lot of problems, and it solved a lot of problems for the school, and the city really,” he continued.
Head coach Herman Boone called on Bass as his team went 13-0 on the way to a state championship.
Yet Sunshine's story expands beyond high school successes. Next came a chance to play at the college level, spending the next five years on the field at Williams-Brice Stadium suiting up for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
"(playing at South Carolina) is pretty great,” said Bass. “I might think it's an experience that everyone should have.”
The story of T.C. Williams' run brought national attention to a new generation decades later, as ‘Remember the Titans’ put a spotlight on Bass and his teammates.
"Basically we heard someone was writing a screenplay and of course a few years went by and we never heard anything about it and then we found out it was going to happen," said Bass.
While the film captured an important movement in the history of the south, it was nice for Bass to revisit some of those memories.
“They did a pretty good job of portraying the action. They remembered the games and all of the teams we played, so that was pretty cool.”
These days, football is still just as important to Sunshine; but he takes in the game from a different perspective – cheering on his son, Ronnie Bass, Jr. - the starting quarterback of North Myrtle Beach High School.
"I'm nervous for him sometimes, but I don't think he realizes how much we enjoy it,” Bass said. “Going to games, getting there early, we get there an hour early, watch all the warmups and everything. We're both nervous. (It’s a) Contact sport. I always tell him to use the sideline, it's your friend, slide if you have to, if you have time you have to."
And Ronnie Jr. knows about his father's role in prep football history.
I think I was about eight years old before I could really comprehend what he was a part of,” he said. “The segregation thing, I was starting to learn more about that and how much of an impact that had back in the day in this movie."
So while Ronnie Bass Sr. was able to re-live his high school days through a major movie, he gets to do so again when seeing his son out on the field
“The running is very familiar,” Bass said while comparing his playing style to his son’s. “Because I was kind of slight as a high school student as well, and he's still trying to put on some weight like I was. So the running style was very similar. Lot of juking, making people miss, that kind of style. And throwing-wise he’s a lot farther along than I was in high school, because we didn't throw a lot in school. I just kind of got by. Barely,” he chuckled.
And Ronnie Jr. is proud to take after his dad by taking the field on Friday nights, with the ultimate goal of winning a state championship now the focus of his attention.
"I feel like it's meant to be, wearing the number 12,” he said. “It's always meant a lot to me wearing my dad's number when he was in high school.”
"He needs to get one (a state title),” explained Ron Sr. “It's not out of the realm of possibilities, he just has to win a few games.”