Heavy hearts fueling Hartsville state title run

Hartsville goes for a perfect season Saturday in the 3A State Championship.

HARTSVILLE (WACH)- An emotional 2012 season for the Hartsville football team will come to an end Saturday when the Red Foxes take on Union County for the Class AAA State Championship at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Hartsville (14-0) led by head coach Jeff Calabrese have faced adversity like none other. On October 5, the Red Foxes were playing Crestwood in their homecoming game when senior nose tackle Ronald Rouse collapsed twice on the field and was pronounced dead later at a local hospital. Autopsy revealed Rouse passed away from an enlarged heart.

Since that tragic night, Calabrese's team has run the table.

"I don't have the right words," Calabrese said. "I can tell you that these kids are amazing."

The loss of a teammate has brought players, coaches and the community closer together to fuel a run that has taken a small town by storm.

"I think the town of Hartsville has become a big family," tight end Cory Wiedrich said. "Without my coaches and my teammates, I'm not sure how I would've been able to get through this."

Despite the outcome Saturday, in Calabrese's eyes his team has already won.

"We've tried as hard as we can. We'll take it however it comes. They're champions to me and they don't need a medal to prove it."