Scoring 62 points in a state championship game is impressive. But some of the Hartsville players wanted 12 more, as time was winding down in the fourth quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. That would have brought the total to 74, the number worn by former Hartsville lineman Ronald Rouse. It was the heartbreak of losing Rouse, that inspired the Red Foxes on a spectacular title run.
Rouse collapsed on the field at Kelleytown Stadium during Hartsville's October 5th homecoming game against Crestwood. Rouse was helped to his feet, and he walked to the sideline, where he collapsed again. EMS crews tried to revive him. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy revealed that Rouse suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia resulting from a congenital enlarged heart.
The Hartsville players, coaching staff and fans dedicated their thoughts, and the rest of the football season, to Rouse's memory. The Red Foxes put the finishing touches on an undefeated season on Saturday night with a 62-27 victory over Union County in the Class 3A State Championship. It was Hartsville's first state football title since 1988.
Rouse was a physical player on the football field. According to teammates, off the field, Rouse was smart, generous, and loved to make people laugh. After winning the 3A Championship on Saturday, Hartsville tight end Cory Wiedrich said, "We did it for Ronald."