Behind the leadership of Coach Jackie Hayes, the entire town of Dillon looks forward to the clash against Camden and a possible return to Columbia for a shot at the Class 3A State Championship.
Dillon Wildcat football teams have enjoyed a rich history of winning. The teams through the 70's and 80's, led by the late Paul Chapman, were consistently competing for the Region Title. After Coach Chapman retired in 1990, the Wildcats struggled for two years only celebrating one victory. When Jackie Hayes took over as Head Coach and Athletic Director in 1992, the winning tradition was put back on track. The Jackie Hayes led Wildcats have amassed a record of 115-30-0 during his tenure of 11 years as Head Coach. This record includes two appearances in the State Championship game in Columbia. Once while still competing at the 4A level in 1994, and then at the 3A level in 1999. Regretfully, both trips to the State Championship title game resulted in losses for the Wildcats.
The 2002 Wildcats are no exception. Dillon completed the regular season 8-2. Both losses coming in over-time contests. The first, against a tough Cheraw Braves team, who is competing for the State 2A Title. The second at the hands of an outstanding Wilson Tiger club. Dillon began the playoffs the #1 seeded team in Region 7-AAA. They celebrated a decisive 54-13 1st round victory over Brookland-Cayce. Dillon then defeated a much improved West Florence Knights team in the 2nd round, led by 2nd year Head Coach, Jeff Calabrese. This past week, Dillon met up with the Wilson Tigers for a second time. As you recall, during the regular season, Wilson defeated Dillon in a 2OT contest, 24-21. The 3rd round playoff contest was billed as one of the biggest in the Pee Dee area. Dillon did not play mistake free football, but managed to capitalize on the mistakes of the Tigers. Dillon QB and DB Lee Page intercepted a Tiger pass on the 2-yard line, and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. This return broke the previous record of 80 yards, held by Jerome Campbell ('81), and now Clemson Tiger standout, Derrick Hamilton ('99). Dillon took advantage of several Tiger kickoff return miscues to take a 27-7 lead into the half. Wilson threatened in the 3rd quarter when they took advantage of several Wildcat mistakes and decreased the gap to 27-19. In the end, Dillon capped the victory with another interception returned for a TD with less than a minute to play. This time it was RB and DB Chaldric Graves. The final score was 41-19, bringing the Wildcats to an 11-2 record overall.
Dillon has their hands full this Friday as they face a very strong (12-1) Camden Bulldog team. Camden will bring a potent passing attack lead by Shrine Bowler QB Eric McCollum and a host of talented receivers. On the other hand, Dillon's notorious "Nasty Cat" defense will be up for the challenge. They are led by senior TE/DL Shelton Camp and OL/DL Rondell Wright. Dillon has been knocked out of the playoffs for the past two years by the Bulldogs and hope to end this streak Friday night in Dillon. Will the "third time be the charm" for the Cats? We'll see Friday night. If you would like to see a hard-hitting, hard-charging, high school football game, then head over to Dillon Memorial Stadium. It should be a good one. Good luck to both teams and GO CATS!