Doolittle enters 48th season publishing football picks
Sunday, August 17, 2014 1:06 AM
Gerald Doolittle has long been known as an authority for predicting high school football games in the state of South Carolina.
For the 48th year, Doolittle releases his week-by-week predictions, most notably for the High School Sports Report.
Believe me, he gets a lot more right than he does wrong.
His percentage of correct picks is 75.2 percent the first 47 years.
The Edgefield resident predicted 76.7 percent of last season’s games correctly (without a point spread). In 2012, that mark was 78.5.
Now entering his 62nd year keeping sports statistics in some capacity, this Friday’s W.W. King football game will mark the 7,182nd athletic event he has covered.
“Football, basketball, baseball, you name it,” said Doolittle, the uncle of Jolly Doolittle, who coached King to last season’s SCISA 8-man football championship.
Gerald Doolittle, before he retired as a school librarian at Wardlaw Academy, also worked in shipping and receiving.
But now, he appears to be having the most fun.
Although Doolittle’s predictions have been published in one form or another of many years, he actually practiced predictions for five years, following his 1962 graduation from Strom Thurmond High School before building the courage to let others see how he did.
“The fans really didn’t start paying attention until about the third year,” said Doolittle, who turned 71 a couple of weeks ago. “People were kind of skeptical about it at first. And, then they went, ‘Well, maybe there is something to it.”
Granted, as is the case with every football prognosticator (including Andrew Macke, who will predict this year’s Lakelands prep football games in the Index-Journal on Fridays), not every pick will be correct.
One particular case where Doolittle incorrectly picked a game was the 2012 Class AAAA, Division II state title game between Greenwood and Northwestern.
“I had Northwestern as a nine-point favorite,” Doolittle recalled. Of course, then-coach Gene Cathcart’s Eagles defeated
Northwestern 31-24 in overtime.
Also that postseason, Doolittle picked Bishop England to beat Abbeville by 29 in the Class AA, Division II title game (Bishop England won 21-0), and he picked Cross to beat McCormick by 4 in the Class A, Division II title game (Cross won 38-26).
This season, Doolittle likes to refer to the regular season’s first three weeks as an “adjustment period.” After getting a feel of what potential teams have after that, he said his picking percentages usually go up.
Although Doolittle picks week by week, he did share some of his overall region predictions.
As far as Region 1-AAAA, Doolittle picks Greenwood to return to the top.
“They should be region champs,” he said.
He added either Strom Thurmond or defending Class A, Division Ii state champ Batesburg-Leesville should win Region 2-AA. He then said Ninety Six would place third, followed by Abbeville.
“Saluda could also be a dark horse, there,” Doolittle said.
In Region 2-AAA, he said Blue Ridge or Greer should rise to the top, and Emerald could be “in the mix.”
“I think it’s time for (Emerald) to show people something,” Doolittle said.
In Region 1-A, he said Fox Creek should win, followed by Ridge Spring-Monetta, McCormick and Dixie. Region 2-A, Doolittle added, belongs to reigning Class A, Division I state champ Christ Church.
“It’s Christ Church until somebody knocks them off,” Doolittle said. “They’re very impressive. They could play a Class AAA schedule and do well, I think.”
Whether you agree or disagree with Doolittle, the fun is in the predicting.
And, fun is what keeps him coming back.
“It’s just a love for high school football,” Doolittle said. “I’ve been following it since the third grade. I was a water boy, and it took off from there. I started taking stats when I was 10, and I never stopped.”
Chancey is sports editor at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 864-223-1813; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @IJSCOTTCHANCEY. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.