The top 5 Lowcountry sports stories of 2013

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- As 2013 ends and all eyes turn to 2014, here's a look back at the biggest Lowcountry sports stories of the year.

No. 5: One in, one out

In the beginning of the year, Charleston Southern welcomed a new head football coach, Jamey Chadwell, a former assistant who took over for Jay Mills. Most didn't think much of the hire. Everyone knew it was a tough job, but what Chadwell did this season was nothing short of special.

In year one at the helm, Chadwell started the season at 10-1 before losing their final two games.

"It was a special year. I wish it would have ended better, but you know, the senior class and really just changing the whole identity of our program, and the school and our spirit," said Chadwell. "It's something they'll take with them after the hurt moves on."

On the other end of the spectrum, one man will head out. After nine years at the helm of The Citadel, Kevin Higgins walked away after the season.

Higgins says it was just time to leave after only two winning seasons at the school. There were never any major issues; Higgins ran a clean, solid program, but he never moved the team over the hump.

Now he's headed to Wake Forest as an assistant.

"No regrets. Certainly we would have liked to have won more football games. The goal coming here was to win a championship. We didn't do that, but I can say honestly, from the bottom of my heart that I'll be rooting for the next guy just to get a championship because I know what that would mean to these alums as much as the players," Higgins said.


No. 4: The year of Jacob Park

The Stratford High signal-caller has had about as good of a year as any high school player can. He had a traditional quarterback stature and plenty of pressure on him to perform; so he shined.

Park threw for over 3,500 yards and 32 touchdowns. He led the Stratford Knights to the state championship game before falling to Northwestern. However, his year is far from over. He committed to the University of Georgia and was selected to the Shrine Bowl.

He was also named South Carolina's Mr. Football.

"It's definitely an honor for me and an honor for the school. I'm just happy to be able to represent my school and my family in all these big awards that I'm getting," Park said.


No. 3: The hit

It's simply known as "the hit" -- what HJadeveon Clowney did against Michigan last Jan. 1. It wasn't just heard around the stadium, but around the world. It was the perfect football hit that stirred up the Clowney hype.

While he certainly had a strong junior season, it didn't live up to the hype. He was left out of the Heismann presentation ceremony, but what Clowney will be remembered for is that one massive hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith.


No. 2: A-Rod plays in Charleston

A slow sports summer turned wild for two days in July when Alex Rodriguez, coming off injury with the cloud of steroid litigation looming, took the field for the first time in the season -- as a Riverdog. For two nights, he was the perfect celebrity, signing autographs and posing for pictures with the Charleston sports faithful.

Riley Park was standing room only, everyone wanting to get a glimpse at one of the best ever on the field, but he wasn't so good in his return. He barely left the infield on his at-bats, but it was a moment to remember at The Joe.

"I'm excited to be in South Carolina; it's my first time here. Great Southern hospitality so far, people have been really nice," he said. "Thank you for having me."


No. 1: One for the thumb

It was the game the entire state waited 364 days for, and for the fifth straight year, South Carolina beat Clemson in the state rivalry game.

It was a close game for three quarters, but South Carolina took off in the fourth and cruised to a 31-17 win over the Tigers. However, it was Clemson that made a BCS bowl game. They'll play in the Orange Bowl against Ohio State. South Carolina drew Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.


It's been a lot of fun in 2013, so let's do it again in 2014. Have a great New Year's, everyone.