Sports

Four set to enter Hilton Head High Athletic Hall of Fame

Homecoming night at Hilton Head High will kick up a notch when the school welcomes back a group of its former star athletes before tonight's football game against Cane Bay.

Dan Utley Jr, LJ Bush, Missy Keller and Keith Ford will be inducted into the Hilton Head High Athletic Hall of Fame.

Utley and Bush will be in attendance for tonight's ceremony, scheduled for 7:15 p.m., 15 minutes before kickoff.

After a two-year hiatus, the hall of fame induction ceremony returns with a few firsts. Utley, along with his father, Dan Utley Sr., will become the only father-son duo in the school's hall of fame. Dan Utley Sr. was inducted into the hall of fame in 2003 primarily for his services as a coach, and Dan Utley Jr. will join it for his accomplishments as an offensive lineman in football, as well as his work in track and field, where he broke the school record for a discus throw.

Keller and Bush also have family members already in the hall of fame. Keller will join her sister, Beth, as the first set of sisters in the Hilton Head High Athletic Hall of Fame. Both had distinguished soccer careers. Missy Keller played on the school's first girls soccer team in 1997.

"To have both of us in there together, I know my mom is definitely proud," said Missy Keller, who now lives in Brooklyn. "It brings me great joy to have such a high honor, and I take it dear to my heart."

Bush was a multi-sport athlete for the Seahawks. He highlighted his high school career with a walkoff home run to force a third game in the state title series. He is currently an assistant baseball and football coach. His younger sister, Latrese, was inducted for her basketball career. They will become the first brother-sister duo honored.

Ford played defensive back for H.E. McCracken, where he started for four seasons and broke the school's single-season and career records for interceptions. He is now a coach at Bluffton High School and will miss tonight's festivities to travel with the Bobcats to Battery Creek.

Each of the four athletes also played athletics in college.

Name: Dan Utley Jr.

Graduation Year: 2000

Sports: Football, track and field, basketball

Accolades: 10-time letterman, all-state offensive lineman, selected to play in Shrine Bowl, school record for discus, state finalist in shotput and discus

Fondest high school memories: "One that sticks out as an individual memory was when I broke the school record in discus," Utley said. "But football gave me a lot of (memories). My senior year was good. We beat some teams we probably should've have beaten. I got to play in the Shrine Bowl. It's still cool to watch that. ... It's hard to narrow these things down because there were a lot of good things."

College/Sport: Appalachian State (N.C.) (football, track and field)

Attending tonight?: Yes

Quotable: "It's a big honor for me," Utley said. "There have been a lot of really good athletes at Hilton Head High. To be included in that group is special."

--Sam McDowell

Name: LJ Bush

Graduation Year: 1987

Sports: Football, baseball, basketball

Accolades: Hit game-winning home run in baseball state title series to force a Game 3, all-state football team, all-state baseball team, team MVP in football and baseball, current HHH assistant football and baseball coach

Fondest high school memories: "I remember the walkoff home run. My mom was there, and that was really good she got a chance to see it," Bush said. "I think that was the most important thing while I was playing. You played because you loved it, but you played for the community. The community was always there and you didn't want to let them down."

College/Sport: Norfolk State (Va.) (football, baseball)

Attending tonight?: Yes

Quotable: "Being recognized for the accomplishments you did in high school, that means a lot," Bush said. "You didn't think about that stuff when you played. You just played because you loved the game and you played it the best you could."

--Sam McDowell

Name: Missy Keller

Graduation Year: 1999

Sports: Soccer

Accolades: 1999 South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year in soccer, three-time team MVP, two-time all-state selection, three-time team captain, played on first team in school history

Fondest high school memories: "We didn't start a girls soccer program until my sophomore year, so playing a part in that was a neat experience," Keller said. "It was awesome to be a part of the first team. And two years later, my senior year, we won our region. That's probably the thing I remember most."

College/Sport: University of Alabama (soccer)

Attending tonight?: No

Quotable: "To be a part of the hall of fame, it's something that was very unexpected, and it's something that is a huge honor," Keller said. "My sister (Beth) is a part of it as well, so I know my mom is definitely proud. It brings me great joy to have such a high honor, and I take it dear to my heart."

--Sam McDowell

Name: Keith Ford

Graduation Year: 1982

Sports: Football, basketball, baseball

Accolades: Started on 1982 state semifinal basketball team, all-region baseball and football, football team MVP, threw for 2,348 yards and rushed for more than 1,200, holds career school interception record (26) and single-season interception record (10) at H.E. McCracken, current Bluffton assistant football coach

Fondest high school memories: "I'd have to say my whole high school career stands out to me," Ford said. "It was great. I got to start as a freshman in high school and play throughout. And I played on some real good teams with some great players."

College/Sport: Sacramento City College (Ca.) and East Carolina University (football)

Attending tonight?: No

Quotable: "It means a great deal to me," Ford said. "When they first started doing (the hall of fame), I wondered if I was someone who might get nominated. When I got the call this year, it meant the world."

--Sam McDowell

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