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Remembering senior moments of 2021-22
J.D. Coleman
Effingham County catcher J.D. Coleman looks to the dugout for a signal during a March 21 game against Richmond Hill at Rebel Field. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

We’ll miss them, for sure.

Many graduating senior athletes from South Effingham and Effingham County basked in sports spotlights for years. Others gave us just one shining moment to remember.

Together, they made lasting memories for a banner 2021-22 school year.

Here’s a toast to five seniors from both schools who delivered special moments.



Cameron Edwards

It was another big track and field season for Edwards, who captured his second straight Class AAAAAA state championship in the triple jump.

His leap of 47 feet, 1.5 inches was a personal best and topped the field at state by more than a foot.

Edwards, who is headed to Savannah State University to play football and run track, was also the Region 2-AAAAAA Offensive Player of the Year in football. He ended his Mustangs football career with a 232-yard, three-touchdown effort against Bradwell Institute.

Jacob Galindez

Galindez capped a stellar wrestling career with a Class AAAAAA state championship in the 113-pound weight class.

Galindez, who finished with a 42-10 mark, won region and sectional titles along the way. He pinned previously undefeated Hunter Keane of Cambridge in the finals of sectionals and again in the title match at state.

Galindez had another highlight moment at duals when he registered a pin in the 120-pound class to provide the winning margin in a 31-30 region semifinal win over Richmond Hill.

Zach Wert

Wert produced one of the memorable swings in Mustangs’ baseball history when his grand slam with two outs in the sixth inning flipped the game and the series against rival Effingham County.

At the time, SEHS trailed by three runs after losing the first game of the three-game, regular-season series 10-8. The Mustangs went on to win Game 2 8-5, then Game 3 7-2 to claim a county championship for the third straight year.

It was a bittersweet moment for Wert, whose father Todd Wert died after a short illness before the baseball season.

Liam Rickman

Rickman booted a 38-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Mustangs to a 33-30 win over Wayne County.

South rallied from a 16-point, third-quarter deficit and snapped a losing binge that had reached 15 defeats in 16 games.

It also avenged a heartbreaking moment for the Mustangs and Rickman who had a field-goal attempt blocked in overtime during a 2019 loss to the Yellow Jackets.

Rickman, who placed 24 of his 31 kickoffs into the endzone this season, signed to play football at Georgia State.

Cailan Howard

Howard went the distance to make the track and field season special and he was breaking school records with every last step.

At the Class AAAAAA state track and field championships, Howard set school marks in the 1600 with a 4:28.21 and the 3200 with a 9:44.31 and ran a leg on the record-breaking 4 X 800 relay team which posted an 8:16.05.

Howard, who will run cross country and track at Augusta University, holds eight of the top 11 1600 times and nine of the top 11 3200 times ever at SEHS.


Jennie Edinger

Edinger’s grand slam in the eighth inning of the Region 2-AAAAAA softball tournament semifinals provided a wild 5-1 win over Glynn Academy. The next day the Rebels completed their fourth region championship in five years by beating Richmond Hill 2-0 in the title game.

Edinger’s homer couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. ECHS lost to Glynn and its star pitcher Kamila Vicente twice during the regular season and was a No. 3 seed coming into the tournament.

This time, Vicente had a no-hitter going after seven innings, but the Rebels manufactured a run with the help of errors to take a 1-1 deadlock into extra innings. One swing from Edinger broke the tie.

Khiry Wallace

Wallace was a starter for four years and had his share of thrills in big Rebel basketball games. But his six-point surge in less than four minutes of a 62-58 overtime win in the Region 2-AAAAAA semifinals against Bradwell Institute may be his lasting legacy.

All three ECHS-Bradwell games this season went to overtime, but the third was the best with leads and momentum ping-ponging back and forth. Held to just two points, Wallace’s corner 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds in regulation sent the game to overtime tied at 52. In overtime, his layup with 28 second remaining broke a 58-58 tie and he added a free throw with 4.9 seconds left to seal the victory.

Wallace had a stellar career as an all-region performer in both football and basketball and signed to play football at Savannah State in the fall.

Candace Kieffer

Kieffer continued her career assault on the Rebel girls’ distance running records. She won the Region 2-AAAAAA cross country title for the second straight year and pulled off a similar feat in the 1600 during the track season.

Kieffer set a school record this spring in the 3200 with a time of 11:30.75 at the Plankenhorn Invitational. She holds the school mark in the 1600 with a time of 5:14.69 and has the best time in cross country (5000 meters) with a time of 18:48.50.

Kieffer, who signed to run at the University of Miami, has ECHS’ all-time best 18 times in the 3200 and top 10 times in the 1600.

J.D. Coleman

Coleman has been a leader for the baseball team for the last two seasons and came up big in Game 3 against Richmond Hill to help the Rebels complete a stunning three-game sweep of the eventual region champion. 

Coleman, who signed to play baseball at Queens University in Charlotte, had three hits and drove in both runs in the 2-0 win over the Wildcats.

Matthew Ford

Ford was a perfect fit at quarterback in coach John Ford’s short passing attack. Matthew was never better while leading a come-from-behind 34-31 victory over Statesboro.

Ford completed 10 straight passes while engineering second-half drives of 64 and 41 yards that resulted in a touchdown and a field goal to tie the game. A Statesboro fumble led to a game-winning field goal on the final play.

Ford, who signed to play baseball at East Georgia College, finished the game with a season-high 238 passing yards.