The Cinderella successes of the Hartsville Red Foxes

If you ask Mayor Mel Pennington about his Hartsville Red Fox football team, be prepared for a bragging session.

Mel Pennington has nothing but good things to say about this group of young men and their head coach Jeff Calabrese.

The mayor says Calabrese will be the first to tell you that predicting a repeat championship is not on his to-do list. This football season will be taken one game at a time, and while winning is nice, he's instilling greater goals in his players than success on the field.

He's creating dedicated, productive, student-athletes that put God first, before family, education and sports. For that reason Mayor Pennington said he'd call Calabrese more of a life coach.

But it's not just the Red Fox football coaches that have led - and will continue to lead - this football team to victory. The community of Hartsville takes so much pride in what the team does on the field each Friday night.

The businesses downtown proudly display Red Fox flags when they close their doors and rush out to attend the game. This is the small town American community that stood in silence as one of the Hartsville football family collapsed on the field last season.

After the tragic death of Ronald Rouse, this grieving team and family rose from the ashes and won the AAA State Championship with their community standing proudly in the wings.

That is what makes this community so special, said Mayor Pennington, not the championships, but the investments people make in each other, and the hardships they've overcome together.

The Hartsville Red Foxes are hosting the Lamar Silver Foxes in a match-up at 7:30 p.m. Friday. That game was chosen by WMBF News viewers as the Extra Point Game of the Week.

"I have a lot of friends over in Lamar, and I wish them well, but there's only one fox in South Carolina," Mayor Pennington laughed.

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