Hall of Famer Aaron Brand has Irmo in second round

By Thomas Grant Jr.

Aaron Brand has had a November.

The Irmo High School head coach is already riding high with the undefeated success of his Region 5-4A champions. The 11-0 Yellow Jackets will play host to Myrtle Beach in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.

Brand watched his son and quarterback A.J. Brand have a near-perfect season. The younger Brand further added to his strong numbers with seven touchdowns and 277 passing yards in the 85-0 shutout of Colleton County.

For the season, A.J. Brand has thrown for 2,440 yards and is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards to go with his 52 total touchdowns.

Senior running back Jaden Allen-Hedrix moved closer to 2,000 rushing yards with 133 yards and four touchdowns against Colleton County. Meanwhile, wide receiver Donovan Murph is 94 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards to go with 15 touchdowns.

The defense has played as spectacularly as the offense. Friday marked their fifth shutout of the season, and they are currently averaging 5.3 points a game.

The icing on the cake for Aaron Brand was being recognized by the school for his 100th career victory. He was presented with a poster from the team recognizing his accomplishments achieved over a coaching career in the Carolinas.

Irmo high school Aaron Brand holds the Sports Hall of Fame plaque presented by alma mater Emory and Henry last Friday.

Following the victory, Brand headed to Emory, Va. last Saturday for another honor. He was among seven of the 2023 inductees into the Emory and Henry Sports Hall of Fame.

The group was recognized with a public presentation on Nicewonder Field during halftime of the football game.

Brand was a two-sport athlete for the Wasps from 1994-97. A four-year letterman as a quarterback for the Wasps’ football team, he never suffered a home loss during his Emory & Henry career. The Wasps accumulated a 33-8 overall record and won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference an unprecedented four consecutive years during Brand’s time on campus.

He was named to the 1997 Old Dominion Athletic Conference All-Conference Team, and Virginia All-State Team as well as being selected as a Preseason All-American. He was also named Most Valuable Player for the Emory and Henry team for his performance during the 1997 season. In baseball, Brand started in every game either as a pitcher or centerfielder.

Brand set a school record by pitching 85 innings as a senior. He also earned MVP honors in baseball as a senior and was named to the ODAC All-Conference Team and Virginia All-State Team as a centerfielder. 

“Just seeing the guys shine and seeing the guys light up after we do great things, that’s what’s important to me,” Brand said. “Getting these guys college looks and college offers and a chance to get further their career perhaps after high school, that’s where I get my joy from. I’m super excited about the Hall of Fame. I’m super-excited about winning number 100, but it’s just a testament to all the great kids I’m been able to coach.”

Season ends for

Lexington teams

River Bluff, Lexington, Chapin, Batesburg-Leesville, and Pelion were all eliminated in the first round of their respective playoffs on the road.

The Gators were defeated 28-3 by Summerville in the Class 5A Lower State playoffs. Aaron Griffin had 10 receptions for 110 yards and Griffin Linder had 11 ½ tackles for River Bluff.

Tripp Bryant’s 31-yard field goal in the third quarter was the Gators’ lone score.

Also in the Lower State, the Eagles fell in the final seconds to Stratford 28-27. The game saw four lead changes in the final two minutes.

Chapin led 21-10 when the Knights scored 15 unanswered points. An interception of quarterback Brady Albro returned for a touchdown intercepted a Brady Albro pass and returned it 55 yards for the go-ahead score with over a minute left.

Albro quickly drove the Eagles downfield to reclaim the lead with 41 seconds left on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Shepherd. The Eagles missed the PAT with 36 seconds left, setting the stage for Stratford placekicker Enzo Mori’s 44-yard field goal to win the game.

In the Class 5A Upper State, the Wildcats were defeated 47-14 by Gaffney as former Gray Collegiate quarterback Staton Riley threw four touchdown passes.

The Class 2A playoffs saw Gray Collegiate advance at the expense of Pelion 62-0. The War Eagles will now play host to Chesnee, which defeated Batesburg-Leesville 21-10.

Feature photo: Irmo players present head coach Aaron Brand a poster recognizing his 100th career victory.