Beaufort High's Rentz brothers carrying on the family legacy

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comNovember 20, 2013 

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Left to right, Beaufort High School football's Tyler and Mike Rentz are shown here Wednesday afternoon during practice in Beaufort.

SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver Buy Photo

The name is quickly recognizable.

When Beaufort High School teachers who taught with Mike Rentz Sr. see his grandsons' names on their list of students at the beginning of the year, they make the connection. Mike Rentz III, a senior, and his brother, Tyler -- both offensive linemen for the Beaufort High football team -- carry a name entrenched in the school's football history.

Mike Rentz Jr., now athletics director and a three-sport coach at Lady's Island Middle School, played quarterback at Beaufort High in the 1980s for his dad, Mike Rentz Sr.

Mike Sr. coached the Eagles football team from 1980-1986 and was the school's longtime athletics director before moving to Florida in 2002.

Now Mike III and Tyler are part of an Eagles' offensive line that has helped push Beaufort High to the second round of the Class 4-A Division II playoffs. Beaufort High travels to North Augusta on Friday.

This is the first time the boys have played a full season on the same offensive line since their time at Beaufort Middle School, where they were coached by Mike Jr. on the same field where his dad coached him.

After Beaufort High practice, the boys will sometimes drive to Lady's Island Middle School to pick up their father. Conversation on the way home might include the Eagles' next opponent, and Mike Jr. will often quiz his sons on what they have seen on film and the gameplan for the week.

"It's actually been a very good year for that," Mike Jr. said. "The three of us have talked a lot more."

Mike Sr. died in July at age 65 after a battle with leukemia. He had made return trips to catch some of his grandsons' games and to visit his mother, Helen, who had moved to an assisted living facility in Beaufort.

"I swear sometimes he'd come up just for Alvin Ord's," Mike III said.

Mike Sr. was a center on the offensive line who earned a scholarship to the University of South Carolina before transferring to Newberry. Mike Jr. played offensive line before switching to quarterback in high school.

And the boys, despite not being of prototypical linemen size, have played on the line since their dad coached their recreation league team when Mike III was 9 and Tyler, 8.

At the dinner table, Mike III and Tyler dig each other about who was named the team's offensive lineman of the week. Mike III has started at right guard since his sophomore year, while Tyler started at left guard beginning in the spring before moving to left tackle after the Ashley Ridge game this season.

Both have consistently graded out.

Mike III, who played center until his freshman year, has maintained the leadership role of the position at guard. During the season-opener against Wando, Mike III saw a front the Eagles had not practiced all week and shouted instructions. Running back Eric Blakely scored on the play.

"I said 'What did you call?'," Eagles offensive line coach Logan Powell said. "He said 'I blocked it back,' which is what I wanted to do. ... He's a Coach Mike out there."

Tyler, too, called a check against Fort Dorchester that resulted in a touchdown. Part of the comfort level in calling plays and checks is a familiarity with assistant coach Scott Lopatka, who coached the offensive line with Mike Jr. at Beaufort Middle.

In Eagles head coach Mark Clifford's offense, playing the line requires a broad knowledge.

"We have a million responsibilities during a play," Mike III said.

Tyler has grown bigger than his brother, an inch shorter but 20 pounds heavier. A former linebacker, Tyler plays with a more bruising style while his older brother relies on a refined technique to offset his size, their dad says.

The brothers' bond helps form the core of what is already a close group. During "Linemen Dinner" each Wednesday night, players meet at a different spot each week to eat, sometimes leaving Powell the bill if they graded out the previous game.

Mike III has been accepted to The Citadel and plans to play football, whether as a walk-on or with a scholarship. His inclination to service comes from his father, Mike. Jr., who attended the U.S. Naval Academy and spent more than six years in the Marine Corps and from Mike Sr., who served as president of the South Carolina Education Association and ran for local office.

Mike III downplayed the family history to an extent, said Beaufort High is about tradition and that other guys have dads who played. Mike Jr. said his sons might not connect the legacy aspect yet and that part of the nostalgia was lost with the opening of the new high school.

"I think they know and understand that's there, but I don't know if they really understand as much as they probably should and probably will when they get a little bit older and perspective hits a little more," Mike Jr. said. "They don't really know how much their grandfather did at Beaufort High and how many people he really affected."

The Rentz name should stick around Beaufort High football for at least one more season.

"It will probably be a little bit less stressful, not having someone who lives with me, who knows everything I do and all my mistakes that I make," Tyler said. "He's a good offensive lineman, so it will (stink) with him leaving."

Class 4-A Division II playoffs, second round

Who: Beaufort High (9-3) at North Augusta (11-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

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