‘Play for Tre’: Chapin football finds ways to honor late teammate

Quarterback Brady Albro and the Chapin High football team have a reminder every time they put on their helmets.

A sticker with “TRE” written in blue letters in a white circle is on the bottom of every Chapin helmet. The sticker is one of the ways the Eagles football team honors former teammate Tre Ruff, who died on Aug. 23 days before the team’s second game against Mid-Carolina.

The team also yells out “Play for Tre” during huddles in practice on gamedays. Many players wear “#RuffStrong” T-shirts and put messages on athletic tape on gamedays.

“That sticker is a reminder that we are playing for something bigger than ourselves,” Albro said before practice on Wednesday. “We also have been grinding every day in practice, and we haven’t forgotten him.

“Tre was a great teammate. He smiled all the time. He was a joy and a great dude.”

Ruff’s death shocked the Chapin team and community. The senior played offensive line last season and was expected to be a starter on the defensive line this year.

A memorial service was held the day before the team’s second game against Mid-Carolina. The Eagles came out the next night and defeated the Rebels, 63-0.

Chapin (5-1) has won five straight games since an opening loss to Irmo. The Eagles, who went 3-8 last year, have been one of the surprise teams in the area this season, all the while honoring their former teammate.

“We were able to hold on to each other, absorb what was happening and just feed off our emotions and heal as a family and team,” Chapin coach Justin Gentry said. “Our guys have fought very hard. We turned things around from how we started, and a lot of that is inspired by the loss of a loved one.

“... We aren’t going to let our legacy leave us. He had a big legacy on our program and we aren’t going to let it go.”

Chapin quarterback Brady Albro holds up a helmet with “TRE” sticker on it. The sticker is for Chapin defensive lineman Tre Ruff, who died on Aug. 23.
Chapin quarterback Brady Albro holds up a helmet with “TRE” sticker on it. The sticker is for Chapin defensive lineman Tre Ruff, who died on Aug. 23.

Five Games to Watch This Week

Chapin (5-1) at Lexington (4-1): Region 4-5A opener for both teams. Chapin has won five straight games. Eighth-ranked Lexington has won six of the last seven in the series, including 25-7 last year. ... Chapin quarterback Brady Albro has thrown for 1,579 yards and 15 touchdowns while throwing just one interception in 184 passes this year. Keelan Bostick had 15 catches last week against AC Flora and leads the team in receiving yards with 442. Maddox Floyd leads the team in catches with 35 and touchdowns with five. Xavier Williams leads the Eagles in tackles for loss with 11 and sacks with five. ... Lexington quarterback Taiden Mines has thrown for 689 yards, rushed for 255 with seven total TDs this season. USC baseball commit Brandon Cromer leads the team with 19 catches for 341 yards and two touchdowns. Montrell Byrd leads the Wildcats with 44 tackles, 10 for loss and four sacks.

Lewisville (5-1) at CA Johnson (4-2): Lewsville is ranked No. 1 in Class A and leads the all-time series with the Green Hornets, 10-5. ... Lewisville QB Ian Grissom has thrown for 1,793 yards and 23 touchdowns. Three different Lewisville receivers have more than 400 yards receiving — Jacorreun Howze (483), Dion Brown (478) and De’adrian Robinson (460). Brown is a Clemson baseball commit and son of former South Carolina great Sheldon Brown. Joaquan Howze leads the team with 74 tackles and second with four interceptions. Lewisville safety Cade Pilgrim, a South Carolina baseball commit, will miss the remainder of the regular season after having Tommy John surgery. ... CA Johnson quarterback Caleb Pearson leads the area with 1,185 yards rushing and 17 total touchdowns. Junior Keivonte Bates leads the team in tackles with 35 and interceptions (3) and is second on the team in rushing yards with 515.

Richland Northeast (3-2) at Irmo (5-0): Region 5-4A opener for both teams. Irmo is ranked No. 3 in the latest Class 4A poll. Irmo leads the all-time series, 25-12. RNE has won three straight games for the first time since 2016. Game features two of the top quarterbacks in the state in juniors AJ Brand (Irmo) and NC State commit Will Wilson (RNE). Brand has thrown for 1,134 yards, rushed for 362 with 23 total touchdowns. RB Jaden Allen-Hendrix leads the team with 892 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Wilson had 269 yards of total offense and four TDs last week against Nation Ford. The Cavs had 502 total yards, 313 rushing, last week.

White Knoll (5-0) at River Bluff (5-1): Region 4-5A opener for both teams. ... White Knoll moved up to No. 7 in the latest Class 5A media poll. White Knoll leads the all-time series, 6-3. WK quarterback Landon Sharpe has thrown for 1,144 yards and 16 total touchdowns this season. Freshman Tiyon Fanning leads the Timberwolves with nine rushing TDs. Evan Henderson is the team’s top receiver with 24 catches for 388 yards and three touchdowns. The Timberwolves defense is giving up just 7.2 points per game and 178.4 yards of offense per contest. Trace Nettles leads the team with 483 rushing yards and three touchdowns. ... River Bluff quarterback Parker Murray has passed for 919 yards, nine touchdowns. Stephen Collier is Murray’s top target with 25 catches for 407 yards and nine total TDs. The Gators are averaging 243.8 yards on the ground per game. Alonzo Singleton leads RB with 40 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Westwood (1-4) at AC Flora (2-3): Region 5-4A opener for both teams. AC Flora has lost two straight games and Westwood four straight. Flora leads the all-time series, 4-1. ... AC Flora QB Roper Wentzky has thrown for 1,135 yards and 15 touchdowns. Byrd leads the Falcons with 24 catches for 468 yards and seven touchdowns. Noah Kelson leads ACF with 493 yards rushing and four touchdowns. ... Westwood QB Carrington Carter has passed for 559 yards and three touchdowns. Jalen Burns leads the Redhawks with 58 tackles.

This Week’s Game Schedule

Aiken at Airport

Bamberg-Ehrhardt at Ben Lippen

Blythewood at Fort Mill

Camden at Lakewood

Chapin at Lexington

Conway Christian at Richard Winn

Dreher at Swansea

Hammond at Augusta Christian

Heathwood Hall at Laurence Manning

John Paul II at Cardinal Newman

Lewisville at CA Johnson

Lower Richland at Gilbert

Mid-Carolina at Fairfield Central

Newberry at Eau Claire

Newberry Academy at WW King

North Central at Chesterfield

Orangeburg-Wilkinson at Brookland-Cayce

Portal (Ga.) at Gray Collegiate

Richland Northeast at Irmo

Ridge View at Lugoff-Elgin

Saluda at Pelion

Spring Valley at Rock Hill

Strom Thurmond at Batesburg-Leesville

Westwood at AC Flora

White Knoll at River Bluff