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Andrew Jackson Middle School’s fall sports season was an autumn of excellence. The AJMS Volunteers’ teams combined to post a 22-0 mark. The Vols volleyball team of second year coach Tonya Smith fashioned a 14-0 mark. Veteran coach Jerry Pardue guided his AJMS football team to an 8-0 record.
“Two unbeaten teams is really special,” said AJMS school principal Butch Dutton. “It was a great accomplishment, a result of coaches, players and parents working together. We had a team effort. These teams took some lumps last season, but they also learned from them.” The Vols volleyball team was about as close to perfect as a team could be. The team’s 14-0 mark included only one match where the Lady Vols went to a third game, with the rest of the matches won 2-0. “Our girls worked really hard,” said Smith, who led the Lady Vols to an 11-1 mark in her first season at AJMS last fall. “After going 11-1 last year, it’s tougher to come back and go undefeated.
“There was pressure on them, but they handled it well,” Smith said. “They worked hard.” The Lady Vols’ 14-0 mark included two wins over North Central, the only team which defeated AJMS last season. “North Central was our toughest competition,” she said. “We beat them 2-0 in our first match which was at North Central and we faced them in the second match at A.R. Rucker Middle School. “We knew they were going to be ready for us, but we responded with an excellent effort and beat them,” she added. “Both of those wins over North Central came away from home. I’m real proud of them.” Pardue said he felt the Vols’ football team could be special coming off a 5-3 mark last season. “We had high hopes,” Pardue said. “We had a lot of returnees and a good group of newcomers. We had 51 players and about 30-31 of those players were eighth-graders.” Pardue noted the team had a winning attitude. “This group worked hard and they wanted to win,” said Pardue, a 30-year coaching veteran, including 22 seasons at AJMS.
Pardue noted the Vols’ success included wins over Great Falls, South Middle School and Long Junior High School of Cheraw. “Great Falls and South are always tough foes and I knew we had to play well to win those games,” Pardue said. “The game with Long was the last game of the season and it was a challenge, but our guys responded and completed the season with an unbeaten record.” In the season-ending win over Long, AJMS forged a 16-0 lead and held on for the 22-6 victory. AJ downed South Middle School 16-0 for SMS’s only loss this season in a 6-1 Mustangs’ campaign. The Volunteers’ 8-0 record included four shutouts as they allowed only 24 points this season and scored 330 points. “An unbeaten season doesn’t happen often,” said Pardue, who was assisted by Bryan Steele and Chris Timmons. “To have two undefeated teams at one school is unusual.” Smith agreed. “We’re fortunate to have good athletes who also worked hard in each sport,” she said.