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As the 1989 Lancaster High School football team prepared to play for a state championship, remnants of Hurricane Hugo lingered around Lancaster County. For a few months that fall, Lancaster County turned to football.
Hopes were high for the 1990 season as Lancaster expected to compete for the state title for the second consecutive season.
Will Brice would make his debut for the LHS Bruins as their kicker and punter. Nothing was known about Will as a football player. He was an outstanding soccer player, but never considered playing football until his junior year of high school. There were no real expectations for the kicker and punter position except that coach Johnny Roscoe’s squad desperately needed a kicking game to compete for another state title.
I was a freshman on the 1990 Lancaster High School football team and witnessed the start of Will’s football career. Through many back yard football games prior to the 1990 season, I witnessed Will’s kicking and punting abilities well before the start of summer practice. It did not take long for coaches and teammates to recognize that Will’s kicking abilities were special.
Little did we know that a season-opening winning field goal against Andrew Jackson would spark the beginning of conceivably one of the greatest athletic talents and careers of an athlete from Lancaster County. That same football season, Will kicked the winning field goal in the Lower State championship game against heavily favored Walterboro with three seconds left in regulation.
Walterboro was 14-0 and was expected to beat Lancaster that night. Lancaster played for the state title that year against Union in one of the most memorable games in state football history. Although his place-kicking skills seemed to spark his career, his punting ability earned him a Shrine Bowl selection and scholarship to the University of Virginia in his senior year at LHS. Will’s punting ability was viewed by sportswriters as one of Virginia’s deadliest weapons and earn him All-ACC honors for four seasons and All American laurels.
This weekend, I will join Will with friends and family in celebrating his career at the University of Virginia. Virginia is set to retire Will’s No. 10 jersey during halftime of the Miami game.
The most memorable moment of Will’s career was handing Florida State its first ACC loss since joining the conference. Will continuously pinned the Seminoles deep in their territory. His punting that historic Thursday night was a determining factor in the outcome of the game. During the All-ACC Awards banquet at the conclusion of Will’s senior season, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden summed up Will’s career in one sentence.
“Will, I am sure glad you are graduating,” said the legendary FSU coach. However, the most staggering statistic of Will’s Virginia career occurred during his redshirt junior year. During that season, Will only allowed 18 return yards. That statistic alone was a recipe for All-ACC and first-team All American honors and earned Will a shot in the NFL where he played for the St. Louis Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals.
When Will sees his jersey retired Saturday afternoon, it will mean a lot to Will and our community. Although a great honor, Will’s focus is now on his family and church, not football. Will serves as a deacon at his church, coaches youth sports teams and is currently organizing a foreign mission trip to Trinidad to assist in the completion of a Baptist Seminary. God had a plan for Will away from football and we are fortunate that he is still impacting our community. Join me in celebrating one of our own this weekend as the University of Virginia retires the No. 10 jersey worn by Will Brice.
Lancaster attorney Brian Trimnal is a former Lancaster High School teammate with Will Brice.