By Thomas Grant Jr.
This year’s “Battle of the Bell” took on an added emotional burden for Chapin High School football.
Earlier in the week, the team received the shocking news of the passing of lineman Fabian
Douglas “Tre” Ruff III. The 17-year-old was found at his Little Mountain home on the morning
of Aug. 22, according to the Newberry County Coroner’s Office.
“The Ruff Family, Chapin football, Chapin High School, and the entire Chapin community were handed a huge blow Tuesday morning,” Chapin head coach Justin Gentry said in a statement. Tre’s passing has been difficult to comprehend, but the love, support, and prayers from around the state have been extremely comforting.
“Tre had the ability to light up the room the minute he walked in. He was such a mild-mannered young man with a huge heart for everyone. Our whole school is mourning the loss of him, but the impact he made in our lives leaves us all with smiles on our faces.
“The Chapin community has wrapped its arms around Chapin High School and the Ruff family and together, we will all get through this. It is our goal as a football team to never let our memories of Tre fade as we fight through and honor his legacy this season.”
Ruff was a senior offensive guard/nose guard for the Eagles football team. Both the B-team and Junior Varsity teams canceled their games following the news.
Two days later, the school held a “Celebration of Life” in Ruff’s honor at Cecil Woolbright Field. The community filled the visiting stands and the players gathered on the field to pay tribute to a player described as a “bright light in all of our lives.”
“He was an outstanding young man who positively impacted his community as a son, brother, classmate, and friend,” Principal Ed Davis said in a statement.
The next day, the football team returned to the field to face archrival Mid-Carolina. Led by quarterback Brady Albro’s five touchdowns to five different players on 12-13 passing, the Eagles routed the Rebels 56-0 to even their record to 1-1 and claim the bell for the 11th straight time in the longstanding rivalry.
“Our players played their hearts out for their fallen teammate,” Gentry said. “After the week we had, I could not be more happy and proud of my guys.”
The week concluded with funeral services Saturday for Ruff at the high school. Chapin now heads on the road to face Spring Valley this Friday.