Coach McKissick achieves greatness in Summerville
As originally published in the September 17, 2003 edition of the Journal Scene
Coach John McKissick proved a person doesn’t have to live in New York City or coach at Notre Dame to achieve greatness. McKissick brought the bright lights of the big city to him and Summerville last week.
On Friday night, McKissick, 76, became the first football coach at any level to reach 500 victories in a coaching career. McKissick, in his 52nd season, as the Summerville High football coach, saw his Green Wave defeat the Wando Warriors 34-17 at John McKissick Field in front of 11,504 fans. With that win Summerville improved to 3-0 and his record improved to 500-119-13. The veteran coach has only posted two losing seasons.
“I feel relieved that we got 500 behind us and now I can worry about winning 501,” McKissick said in his first press conference held on the 50-yard line of McKissick Field after the game. “This was like playing the state championship game; it can’t get any better than this. There are a lot of places to play football, but none are better than playing here. I helped put a little town like Summerville on the map.”
Coincidentally, McKissick and Summerville defeated Wando 42-0 in October of 1993 to earn his 406th win and make him the all-time winningest football coach at any level. In 1987, McKissick became the winningest active high school coach in the nation with 347 wins.
Summerville’s offense Friday was powered by senior running backs Corey Smalls and Alex Haynes. The duo combined for 165 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns in the monumental game.
After getting off to a slow start in the first half, Summerville headed to the locker room with a 10-3 lead. Whatever McKissick told his players at halftime paid off, because in the second half the Wave looked like a different team.
The Green Wave came alive in the third quarter and scored 21 points to the Warriors’ seven to roll to the win. They scored on all three of their third quarter possessions.
On the first drive of the decisive quarter the Wave marched 65 yards on 10 plays and Smalls capped off the drive with a 2-yard TD run. Four minutes and thirty-six seconds into the second half Summerville led 17-3.
On the Wave’s ensuing possession, they drove 54 yards on eight plays with quarterback Dustin Morrow scoring on a 1-yard sneak for a 24-3 lead. Following Wando’s 93-yard kickoff return, Haynes went 67 yards on the second play to put the Wave up 31-9.
“We had a hard time moving the ball in the first half,” McKissick said while fireworks went off in the background in honor of his 500th victory. “We made a couple of plays on defense, but Wando outplayed us. We went to our jumbo offense in the second half with nine offensive lineman and we got the job done.”
In his 51st year of coaching high school football at Summerville, McKissick has been featured in Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Atlanta Journal Constitution and highlighted on ESPN’s Sportscenter show. He has definitely put the Summerville High football program on the map.
In his coaching career here McKissick has led the Green Wave to 10 state championships, the most recent coming in 1998. Summerville is ranked No. 1 in the state of South Carolina and is favored to capture another 4-A class state title.
Summerville jumped on the scoreboard first against Wando when senior Allen Smith kicked a 50-yard field goal with 9:27 left in the first quarter. With a 1:48 left in the quarter Wando’s Wesley Wilson kicked a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at three.