Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Gray focusing on remaining on top

The Gray Collegiate War Eagles celebrated the program’s first 2A State Championship following a 49-14 win over Silver Bluff.

The Gray Collegiate War Eagles celebrated the program’s first 2A State Championship following a 49-14 win over Silver Bluff.


After eight years of building and incrementally achieving goals and advancing the program a little farther year after year, the Gray Collegiate War Eagles reached the peak of the 2A mountain in 2021, defeating Silver Bluff 49-14 for the state championship.

It was also a season with plenty of memorable moments along the way. There was the ten point win over 5A Ridge View, the narrow loss at Gaffney, the win over Abbeville in the playoffs, and of course former Gray star KZ Adams’s historic season which saw him become a Mr. Football finalist.

The 2021 season was truly a magical one for the War Eagles, but now comes the other side of the coin. It is one thing to build toward a title; it’s another to stay at the top of the mountain.

“The seniors set a precedent,” head coach Adam Holmes said. “The guys understand what it takes. Now it’s up to the rising seniors and juniors to continue that. They have a great attitude. They had a great spring. I look forward to coaching a new team.”



The most glaring question, aside from Gray’s ability to maintain its level of success, is who will replace Adams? For now it looks like Brian Montgomery and Kaleb Ford will provide a one-two punch in the War Eagles’ rushing attack. Montgomery stands at 5’-9”, 170 lbs., while Ford is 5’-10”, 220 lbs.

Savion Smith, Devin Johnson, Zai Offord, and Jamarious Lockett will be the top targets in the passing game.

Riley Staton leads the passing game. He saw action in six games last year including the Upper State and State Championship games. Back up Braxton Rogers will push him for playing time.

J.T. Sowell will anchor the offensive line.

The hardest hit group to graduation was the defense where five of the front seven will need to be replaced. Elijah Radden and Julian Robinson will provide the leadership for the new starters.

“Defense is where a lot of the work went into during spring practice,” Holmes said. “We found some guys. Some are rising juniors, some played junior varsity last year, and some were backups who can step in.”



Holmes has never been concerned about scheduling tough nonregion opponents, as evidenced by Ridge View and Gaffney in 2021, and that remains the same for 2022.

The War Eagles open the season with three consecutive road trips, including a September 3 matchup against South Atlanta in the Cam Newton Classic.

A home game against Camden closes out the non-region schedule, which could also be Gray’s first game in its new, on campus stadium, slated to be completed in the fall.

Then comes a six-week region schedule that includes games against Eau Claire, Columbia, Fairfield Central, Newberry, and Keenan.

Holmes said the coaches haven’t shied away from talking about being the defending state champions and now being the hunted.

“We know in every game we are going to get our opponent’s best shot,” Holmes said. “We just want to be there at the end with an opportunity to play for an Upper State and State Championship. We want to keep up the tradition last year’s senior class built. We need to have a do whatever it takes mentality.”



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