James F. Byrnes High School lies in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northwest corner of South Carolina in the town of Duncan. Last year Byrnes won their 8th state title in the last ten years. They have been the most dominant team in South Carolina over the last decade. Byrnes defeated Gaffney in the 2011 title game, 31-24, and has an overall 118-10 record since 2002.
Head Coach Chris Miller has led the program since 2007 after being the defensive coordinator for seven seasons. He succeeded Bobby Bentley who won four straight titles – 2002-2005 – before leaving for Presbyterian College. Bentley played for his alma mater and went back to coach at PC in their transition from being a Division II program to Football Championship Subdivision status.
Then, in 2009, Bentley returned to Byrnes and took the job of athletic director and offensive coordinator under Miller. The transition worked smoothly. Beginning last season, Shuler Bentley, Bobby’s son, became the team’s starting quarterback. Now a junior, Bentley threw for 47 touchdowns and 3,495 yards as a sophomore last fall.
In August of 2007 – just before Miller became head coach – Byrnes completed a new state of the art football field house. The $2.9 million dollar complex is complete with an 8,000 foot weight room. The two-level 19,000 square foot facility houses a film room with 150 theatre-style seats, a cavernous team room filled with planning boards and flat screen televisions that doubles as an indoor training facility and coaches’ offices.
“It’s a great facility for our kids,” said Miller. “It’s first class and that’s the way we want it to be. We tell our kids that we’re going to try to give them the best equipment, the best facilities and the best coaches.”
Now in his 29th year of coaching, Miller also teaches health, physical education, and strength and fitness at Byrnes. He previously was the head coach at Broome High School and had a 36-32 record there before coming to Byrnes. Miller is a graduate of Newberry College.