Another Leisurely Evening Writing of Sports

I don't mind watching the coin flip from a distance. (Monte Dutton photos)
I don’t mind watching the coin flip from a distance. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, August 28, 2016, 10:52 a.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Clinton defeated Laurens, 34-29, on Friday night in my second game on the Greenwood Index-Journal sports beat. Six days earlier, it had taken two drives to Saluda for me to report in detail how the Strom Thurmond Rebels defeated the Saluda Tigers, 38-7.

Clinton's Tyreke Watts (61) and Tashymen Boyd (44) try to reach Laurens' Troy Dendy.
Clinton’s Tyreke Watts (61) and Tashymen Boyd (44) try to reach Laurens’ Troy Dendy.

The best part of writing about high school football is it’s back to the basics. It’s a gig where I am limited only by what I don’t see and deadlines. The worst part of writing about high-school football is also that it’s back to the basics.

Kris Evans-Williams
Kris Evans-Williams

The basics of love. Down in a Luchenbach, Texas, of the figurative mind. Or a hot press box and a steamy field, with a heap of steps in between. At this late stage of life, I never take them two at a time anymore.

Devin Hubner kicks.
Devin Hubner kicks. Bryson Payne holds.

Here’s a confession. I like writing on deadline. It’s more the art of the possible than politics, though it’s a little harder to make that point this year because barely possible events occur all the time.

High-school football is cleaner, though, personal fouls notwithstanding. Dirty tricks draw yellow hankies in football.

Andrew Webb
Andrew Webb

Not that anyone is as interested in how I write a story as the game about which I write, but I’ve already written about the game, which was a fine one. Not every game is a classic. If so, there’d be no such thing. How fondly this one will be remembered in Clinton, or reviled in Laurens, will depend on what happens to the two teams from here on out.

Writers typically wear lots of hats now, though the only one I had at Wilder Stadium was originated by the Asheville Tourists. I sometimes go partisan at the games but not partisan about the game. Oh, 30 years or so ago, I realized that the words of the coach wearing blue and red were more compelling if the fellow with the tape recorder wasn’t wearing black and gold.

After staring at it in various kinds of light, I’m still not sure which color the shirt I wore Friday night was. It has tiny stripes that are either white or gray. The base color is either navy or black. I think. Sometimes it looks ever so slightly greenish. Mainly, it’s dark.

It’s good to get this compelling discussion of attire out of the way.

This is how I covered the 84th football game between Clinton and Laurens that we know about.

I hung out in the parking lot and press box talking about the game and studying them a little. Only a little was required because I’d been watching them practice in various incarnations all summer.

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Down to the sideline carefully made I my way. I paid close attention to such matters as the inflation of the gigantic plastic simulation of a Clinton helmet that was at the end of a gigantic plastic tunnel that the Red Devils ran through, and milled about for what seemed like a long time within, before the game started.

The two bands collaborated on such uniting melodies as the national anthem. I appreciated their effort, in part because they played it in a key that enabled me to sing it myself with a modest degree of competency and range. I was mystified to see if the Raider band was still going to be lined up with the Red Devils when the Clinton team ran out through the a banner conveying an inordinate number of messages.

The LDHS band scurried safely away, with seconds to spare, leaving me room almost to get run over by the Clinton team because I was looking through a camera lens that made objects closer than they appeared.

Rookie mistake. Opening night. (I didn’t have to take photos in Saluda.)

DSCF3712
From left: KoKo Richey, Charlie Craven, Kris Holmes, Jishon Payne, and Zac Ray.

For most of the first quarter. I held up my camera and snapped a photo, then left the camera to hang around my neck while I scrawled something intelligent like:

1-10-27 10-11, +5, gd T by 17. Pursuit.

Then, when I felt confident that, out of 35 shots, or so, at least one would be suitable for publication. I started working my way back to the press box, slipping into an end seat (there weren’t many Friday night, but people tend to spread out a little in the non-reserved sections) after each play to scrawl something intelligent like:

2-5-32 9 le +3.

Then, 10 rows farther up:

3-2-35 10-22, shy, +1.

Staggering into the seat I had saved in the press box, I wiped my brow and scribbled:

4-1-36 punt 32.

For the remainder of the first half, I was continuing to record the plays while, at the same time, logging in the earlier plays on the coverage sheet I had downloaded from the World Wide Web! I mainly used that sheet alone the rest of the night, scrawling a little description in the margins.

Charlie Craven (10) and Donte Reeder (11)
Charlie Craven (10) and Donte Reeder (11)

I did the best I could. It was too hectic to be precise. When I looked at the statistics compiled by the teams the next day, it did not surprise me at all that Clinton quarterback Charlie Craven attempted one less pass – he was 14-of-20, not 14-of-21, as I had reported, and threw for 161 yards instead of the 149 I had quickly tallied – because, undoubtedly, at some point, I had forgotten to carry a “1.”

Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons

I packed everything in my handy backpack as the final seconds expired on the game. When I got to the field, I realized I had packed my camera, so I wedged the backpack against the chain-link fence and got the camera out. That way I could tape a video of Clinton coach Andrew Webb talking about the game to WPCC Radio’s Gene Simmons, and while I hated to eavesdrop on him, people routinely eavesdrop on me when I’m trying to interview someone, and I just couldn’t bring myself to interview Webb, or, for that matter, Laurens coach Chris Liner, while trying to look through a camera at the same time.

Laurens head coach Chris Liner
Laurens head coach Chris Liner

That’s where I draw the line.

It was 11 p.m. The deadline was midnight. My house was two miles away. I hoped a friendly policeman would help me facilitate my wild dash home, but noooooo. When I told him I was on deadline and in a hurry, I’m surprised he didn’t assign a fellow media-loving cop to give me a mandatory motorcade to Cross Anchor and back.

I’m exaggerating a bit. I shouldn’t ask for special treatment. Hundreds of the people driving home could have been on deadline. People are on Facebook, and they want to post their observations faster than anyone else, too. Then there’s Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat … I should be thankful I had so little to do.

I got to the house, fired up the laptop that I had left ready to run, and downloaded the photos and video. While the progress of the downloads (or perhaps they were uploads; I forget) was recorded in bands (of color, not music) streaking across the screen, I put on some coffee and groped for a lead.

Sincere Hunt
Sincere Hunt

Big play by someone named Sincere. Sincere Hunt. Like A Streetcar Named Desire. Sincere effort. Bingo.

I went back to the laptop and wrote just that lead graph. Then I picked out six photos that were promising and messed around with the light, tint, color, etc., saved them and emailed them to Greenwood.

Thirty minutes. At least 400 words. Those 30 minutes were spent writing, hurriedly referring to notes, and listening to the do-it-all instrument known as a cell phone. In this case, it was the voice-recorder subsidiary.

With five minutes to go, I hurriedly proofread to fix things like “the Clinton” because I had changed it from “Red Devils” and forgotten to remove “the.” Then I emailed the story to Greenwood and fetched the coffee. By coffee’s end, sleep wasn’t an option, so I watched California clobber Hawaii out west while looking at all the tweets and posts that students, fans and players had entered while I was occupied with 400 words.

I had foolishly planned on getting up early on Saturday to attend “Red Devil Rerun” at Whiteford’s, but it was at 8, and that’s when I awakened, and so I listened to it on radio and took down some notes that may be useful for advancing Clinton’s game next week in Greer.

Besides, I had to produce the video and post it on the Index-Journal’s YouTube page.

Once upon a time, I was just a writer.

Laurens QB Nathan Rutter completed five out of 13 attempts for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Laurens QB Nathan Rutter completed five out of 13 attempts for 61 yards and a touchdown.
(Steven Novak cover design)
(Steven Novak cover design)

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

 

The Renaissance Reaches Clinton

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Clinton's Charlie Craven (10) to Kris Holmes. Laurens' Braylen McBeth in between. (Monte Dutton photos)
Clinton’s Charlie Craven (10) to Kris Holmes. Laurens’ Braylen McBeth in between. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 27, 2016, 3:21 p.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

It’s the day after Clinton beat Laurens, and all through the town, still no one seems to have his feet on the ground.

Or her feet. The hovering transcends gender, which has nothing to do with transgender anything else.

Today I went over to Presbyterian College, wearing perhaps the oldest Clinton cap that is still being worn. It’s black and has the word “Clinton” in red and white. If I was wearing it anywhere else, people would think I was for Hillary Clinton, which I am, but it has nothing to do with the cap.

People watching – and, in fact, meeting the Blue Hose – celebrated the cap. I’m satisfied some were for Trump. In Clinton, a Clinton cap transcends politics.

Richardson FIeld looked marvelous.
Richardson FIeld looked marvelous.

A Presbyterian football player celebrated my blue cotton football jersey because it had “94” on the front and his had “94” on the front and back. Derrick Washington is a senior defensive lineman from Milledgeville, Georgia. I told him I think I bought my jersey in a truck stop, and it was possibly because the year was 1994. He said he still liked it.

From left, Mark Wise, Sincere Hunt, KoKo Richey and T'Quan Cromer.
From left, Mark Wise, Sincere Hunt, KoKo Richey and T’Quan Cromer.

This was not a contemporary wardrobe I wore over to PC. My sneakers were relatively new.

For both the Red Devils and the Raiders, the long and winding road is only beginning. Next week Clinton travels to Greer, another place it has recently taken its lumps. Laurens is at home against a dangerous opponent, Chapman, which will be dangerous to Clinton later because they are in the same region.

DSCF3717At Bailey Memorial Stadium, Keith Richardson, my high school coach, was watching his grandson, who now plays for the Blue Hose, as did Coach Richardson himself. Bill Rhodes, who also coached me, was working the concession stand. Last night, Bill was in the background while I was shooting video of present coach, Andrew Webb, talking about the 34-29 victory over Laurens. Harold Nichols was there to coach the Blue Hose, but what I chatted about with all of them could be boiled down to, simply, a variation of “How About Them Red Devils?”

Clinton head coach Andrew Webb
Clinton head coach Andrew Webb

For at least a night, Wilder Stadium was like it was in the glorious days of yore, and the game on Richardson Field was worthy of the comparison.

For the proud people of Clinton and its surrounding fiefdoms, order had been restored. Big, bad Laurens, from Class 5A — which, for some reason, suddenly became important because Clinton is still 3A, and, for some reason, people seem to have forgotten that Laurens District High School is no bigger than Clinton High School than it was last year – had been repelled in its invasion, and as is self-evident, Raiders tend to raid.  The schools haven’t changed, only the classifications, and because 4A is no longer split, Laurens has slipped up to a class that heretofore did not exist and Clinton has remained a bit more comfortably in 3A, where it has resided since the 1960s.

Let’s lose the class warfare. Laurens leads in A’s. Clinton leads in football teams … for the coming annum. Just because Laurens is in a higher class doesn’t mean it has more class.

DSCF3709The jaded news on this end of the county was that Laurens had won four in a row during a dark age in Clinton, and now the Red Devils seem to be advancing into the Renaissance.

Renaissance is not often a word used in relation to the untidy and boisterous sport of football, and I don’t expect any bumper stickers to show up celebrating the Red Devils as The Big Red Renaissance.

Oh, no, the yell will still be “Go Big Red!” in these parts.

Here’s the game story I wrote in the Index-Journal.

At the end, they're all in this county together.
At the end, they’re all in this county together.

CowboysComeHome_CVRPlease visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Delightful Clinton Things

Dr. David O'Shields, in red, naturally, receives the game ball from all the runners, proving, beyond the shadow of a doubt that "the Raiders are coming, the Raiders are coming!" (Monte Dutton photos)
Dr. David O’Shields, in red, naturally, receives the game ball from all the runners, proving, beyond the shadow of a doubt that “the Raiders are coming, the Raiders are coming!” (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, August 25, 2016, 8:33 p.m.

This was the most Clinton thing ever. The Clinton thing Friday night is in its infancy, because, dating back to 1920, Laurens has never played the Red Devils to begin a season.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Clinton is a place where that most crucial transition of the calendar year – the ceremonial end of summer and beginning of football  – is celebrated by having a band that released a song that reached No. 17 in the country back in 1966 play a concert under a really nice shed next to the railroad tracks and across the street from the Confederate Monument.

In other words, my hometown’s citizens welcome the kids at Clinton High and Presbyterian College back to school by holding a live concert of music they barely remember and the kids never heard, that is, unless they watched The Swingin’ Medallions last year.

Just about as busy as Musgrove Street gets.
Just about as busy as Musgrove Street gets.

I might be a tad jaded. Mind you, I have witnessed Kurt Busch Day in Las Vegas.

Vegas Clinton ain’t. I like Clinton better. Besides, I can’t afford to gamble right now. Oh, wait. My whole life is a gamble.

The Swingin’ Medallions are from nearby Greenwood and objects of local renown. The townspeople turned out to hear the aforementioned hit, “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,” and covers of 1970s rhythm and blues and our regional genre, beach music, which is the format of the local radio station, WPCC 1410-AM, Large Time Radio.

The Swingin' Medallions
The Swingin’ Medallions

It’s one of those trips back in time that most people get just driving through Clinton.

The cross country teams of Laurens and Clinton ran the game football from there to here, and they delivered it to District 56 Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields, who was once a classmate of mine at good old CHS, back when those who ran across country for sport were known as “harriers.” I believe runners around tracks might have been “thinclads.”

Unlike Friday night, Town Rhythms, the local Thursday evening free concert series, was a music-time decision. I wasn’t completely sure I was going, but the damned Red Sox lost, and I wanted something good to happen, so I decided I’d park as near as I could, stop by the Cuban restaurant for supper and watch the Medallions swing a mite slower than they did in wild, wonderful 1966.

Some folks staked out their spots early.
Some folks staked out their spots early.

Instead, I wound up eating pork barbecue, slaw and potato salad from a food truck and a Diet Mountain Dew I found elsewhere because the truck didn’t have any drinks beside water that were diet, and I love water but not with barbecue, and you know how fat people always drink diet, proving conclusively that it does absolutely no good whatsoever, but I’ve gotten used to it.

I hung around for half the concert because I bumped into a good two dozen people I haven’t seen lately, and we talked about such items as the old Howard Watkins farm being up for sale, and the sheriff’s race, and reckon how long it’ll be before Dempsey’s Pizza is open again, and other items that have more resonance in Laurens County than the earthquake in Italy.

I got home at a decent hour, or else I wouldn’t be writing this, now, would I?

Maybe I’ll get a Cuban sandwich before I go to Wilder Stadium. Either that or a slaw-dog plate at Whiteford’s.

DSCF1979

(Steven Novak cover design)
(Steven Novak cover design)

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Avoiding the Perils of Knowing Enough to Be Dangerous

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)

 

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 11:44 a.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

I thought I had been everywhere. Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Kingston, Albuquerque … and some that Hank Snow never even mentioned in his song.

I thought I had done everything, particularly in regard to the writing of sports: NASCAR and all kinds of pastimes requiring, balls, pucks, pins, bats, sticks, cleats, wickets, racquets and girdle pads. Those are just samples. Helmets. Hats. Caps. You get it. I’ve written about lots of sports.

On Tuesday, I wrote for the first time about eight-man football and volleyball. I sent in volleyball results when I was a sports information director, and I watched it on TV on both beaches and wooden floors. I’ve seen people play beach volleyball at a bar in the mountains. The variety of volleyball I saw at the gym was … clearer. No one suggested I take part.

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The eight-man football was at Laurens Academy, where I watched practice a while and wrote a preview of Friday night’s opener against Holly Hill Academy. Then it was off to run a couple errands and stop off at Yo Cup for coffee both in a cup and in a cake. Then I migrated to the locally famed rivalry between Laurens District and Clinton high schools, this one with the combatants separated by a net.

DSCF3685I’m vaguely conversant in volleyball. I know what a dig is. It’s what happens when a reader takes a shot at something I wrote. A spike makes me happy with my book sales. A serve? Dum vivimus servimus. “While we breathe, we serve.” It’s the Presbyterian College motto. I didn’t go to PC, but I’ve learned that motto from repeatedly seeing the seal for the entirety of my life. I went to Furman. Christo et doctrinae. “Christ and His teachings.” A little service involved there, too.

DSCF3672Clinton’s service was excellent. It played a powerful role in the Red Devils’ 25-10, 25-19, 25-14 (i.e., 3-0) victory over the Raiders. Here’s my amateurish account in the Greenwood Index-Journal. When amateurish and in doubt, crafty veterans among the ink-stained wretches (now a bit more radioactively challenged in the technological age) resort to extensive quotes from the experts, the coaches. If we don’t know what happened, we are only too happy to let them tell us.

DSCF3673

DSCF3689There’s no need to feign authoritative knowledge. Nothing is more annoying than a journalist who thinks he knows more about engine building than Robert Yates or Ernie Elliott. Elliott, by the way, from experience, isn’t inclined to share. The job isn’t to know everything. It’s to make it comprehensible to others who don’t know everything, either.

My first postgame question to Clinton High School coach Jo Webb was, “Was this an upset?” She said she didn’t think so but in enough words to be helpful. When Laurens’ Diane Raabe said she didn’t want to take questions and would make a statement, that was fine. That was way cool.

I didn’t want to coach the Olympic team. I wanted 12 inches on the dadgum match.

DSCF3656

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Just Like Old Times

Bettis Herlong Jr. Stadium and Matthews field, Saluda, South Carolina (Monte Dutton photos)
Bettis Herlong Jr. Stadium and Matthews field, Saluda, South Carolina (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 20, 8:10 p.m.

I hadn’t been to Saluda, 40 miles away, in many years. Over 20 years of covering NASCAR, it just wasn’t a direction I went. I drove through McCormick on the way to Atlanta, through Chester on the way to Charlotte (and Rockingham), and I knew many small towns like Saluda on the road.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Eden, North Carolina, across the border from Martinsville. Griffin, Georgia, south of the speedway in Hampton. Alton Bay, New Hampshire, at the bottom of Lake Winnipesaukee. Corning, New York, near Watkins Glen.

But I hadn’t been to Saluda, where once my fertilizer-selling father served the peach farmers thereabouts.

I volunteered to write about a football game between Strom Thurmond of Johnston (as opposed to Olin D. Johnston of Thurmond) and Saluda at Bettis Herlong Jr. Stadium, whose home grandstands were once a part of Carolina Stadium in Columbia before the Gamecocks upgraded it to Williams-Brice. I believe I last watched a game there in the fall of 1981.

DSCF3653The nostalgic return was a bit more complicated than I expected.

I’m happy to report the cattle barn is still there, looking much the same as when my father, who was also an auctioneer of some renown, occasionally filled in for his friend Tom Coleman, who owned the place back then and, as my mother recalled today, looked a great deal like Walter Matthau.

When I arrived Friday night, absurdly early as always, I noticed a file folder on the desk that read:

Ralph Shealy Jr.

Press Box

Shortly afterwards, Ralph Shealy walked in. Back in 1981, he was the editor of the Saluda Standard-Sentinel. By now, he may just be the Standard-Sentinel. He is definitely the fine public-address announcer of the Saluda Tigers. I don’t remember the details, but I once spent half an afternoon chatting with Ralph, whom I didn’t know well but liked a lot.

Strom Thurmond players arrive Saturday morning.
Strom Thurmond players arrive Saturday morning.

As it turns out, I still do. I spent more time with him than I did in 1981.

That’s because the game between neighboring Saluda and Thurmond was supposed to begin at 7:30 Friday night and wound up beginning on Saturday morning at 11. Ralph and I were penned in the press box, as much as if there had been an electric fence instead of an electrical storm. At one point, a cloud that looked like angry God in robes hurled a lightning bolt at a light standard, knocking out the power for about three seconds and making me decide I’d better wait before I made a run for it.

The weather followed the cheerleaders on Friday.
The weather followed the cheerleaders on Friday.

In 1973, Clinton High played at Saluda in the upstate Class 3A championship game. I was in the 10th grade and still playing J.V., but Clinton won, 14-13, because all-state nose guard Roscoe Watson hurdled the protective line and blocked the extra point. He swatted that kick like a fly that buzzed too much for his taste. On Friday and Saturday, the son of the Saluda kicker was in the press box.

Tom Coleman, the auction barn’s owner, had a son playing quarterback, and he and my dad bet a small fortune of friendly money on the game. Ralph told me Ben Coleman, the quarterback, lives in Baton Rouge nowadays. He’d be around 60.

I had a grand time, even though the parking lot was eight inches underwater when I finally got to the car, and I had a better time Saturday than anyone on that side of the stadium because Thurmond defeated the Tigers, 38-7.

Small world. Folks in small towns remember what happens on the local ballfield for a long time.

DSCF3654

(Steven Novak cover design)
(Steven Novak cover design)

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Crazy of Natural Causes is on sale at $1.99. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Here’s to Our Old High School, Hail, Hail, Hail …

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, August 19, 2016, 11:20 a.m.

Athletes arrive in as many gaits as Tennessee Walking Horses. They saunter. They trot. They amble. Some seem frightened. Some seem self-conscious. Some think the whole affair is hilarious. Everyone gets his or her due. They get their tributes from the Voice of the Red Devils, Buddy Bridges, and the crowd roars.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

It’s Meet the Red Devils Night at the Clinton High School gym, and no one has won or lost yet in game, meet or match that counts. Everyone is undefeated, and everyone is winless.

It’s a ponderous affair that’s worth watching for all the human beings who interact out of love, parenthood, fandom and truth to their school.

Be true to your school / Just like you would to your girl or guy / Be true to your school now / Let your colors fly / Be true to your school / Aye-aye, aye-aayyyye …

The panorama of generations stretches out in all its glory. These are not just Clinton High School’s teams. They are its past, its present and its future. They are the town’s teams and the district’s, and that district stretches to the lake named for Greenwood and through the forest named for Sumter. They are here for Joanna, Cross Hill and other places even smaller where roads cross and convenience stores flourish.

DSCF1952 (1)Men squint to see who’s wearing the old number. Women notice how the cheerleaders’ uniforms have changed. Who’s playing the sax this year in the Devil Regiment?

Some folks line up to join the booster club. Others buy the latest souvenirs. One popular souvenir, the Big Red Machine license plate, has been around since the Big Red Machine cranked up in Cincinnati.

DSCF1974 (1)Next week’s opener, the one for the Laurens County championship (settled between the two public schools), is taking on a life beyond its usual own because, for the first time ever or that anyone remembers, the Raiders are invading at the very beginning of the long campaign that both schools hope is longer than the last.

Oh, how the crowd longs for the Red Devils to be back. The Clinton football team, a cornerstone of spirit in this end of Laurens County, has passed every test, the only cautionary aspect being that none so far has counted. They’ve mattered, though, because there’s always next year, and now, hocus-pocus, abracadabra, it’s this year, and, by God, it doesn’t look like that team is going 3-7 again.

DSCF1973 (1)

The slate is clean, but it’s awfully stern. The Raiders are leading 5-3 in classification A’s, and the region is rough, and the first five games are a minefield, but none of that matters because football, righteous football, is back, and the men and women and the boys and girls are all convinced that their lads can beat your lads, and if you don’t think so, why, do something about it!

Jimmy Webb boosts the Booster Club.
Jimmy Webb boosts the Booster Club.

When some loud braggart tries to put me down / And says his school is great / I tell him right away / Now what’s the matter buddy / Ain’t you heard of my school? / It’s number one in the state.

Next week, they’ll be pepping up the Raiders in the Laurens public square, and the cross country runners are going to run the ball cross county to Clinton, where the game is played and the Swinging Medallions are going to help send off the Red Devils at the ceremonial Depot next to the railroad tracks, and, then, and only then, after cheers have been raised and coaches tributed, do the lads of both schools get to play.

Regardless of the outcome, it will be one of the few local examples of the many-splendored thing.

DSCF1962 (1)

(Steven Novak cover design)
(Steven Novak cover design)

Please visit the KindleScout site and consider nominating my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, for publication. You’ll find sample chapters, a short synopsis and a Q&A. Take a look at it here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Crazy of Natural Causes is on sale at $1.99. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

 

The Hay Will Now Remain in the Loft for a While

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 13, 2016, 11:45 a.m.

Now the wait.

The Raider fans wait in Laurens, not to mention Gray Court, Hickory Tavern, Owings, Waterloo, Ora and Ekom Beach. The Red Devil partisans stretch from Clinton out to Joanna, Cross Hill, Mountville, Cross Hill and this side of Kinards. Some of both are out enjoying the waters of Lake Greenwood this weekend.

Clinton vs. Strom Thurmond
Clinton vs. Strom Thurmond

The teams don’t play until August 26. Some teams start next Friday. The High School League calls it Week Zero, and for Clinton High and Laurens District High, it truly is. Clinton scrimmaged four times this week and will now concentrate on in-house improvement and preparation for Laurens. LDHS has one more warm-up, a full-game scrimmage at York on August 19, when others are playing for real. I’m confident head coach Chris Liner will have the Raiders playing for real, too. It just won’t count.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Laurens at Clinton will count. Laurens, in no small part owing to greater size in both weight and school, will be favored. The Raiders are in the bright, shiny new Class 5A. Clinton remains in 3A, where it has been since the 1960s, but realignment helps since the Red Devils are going from being the smallest school in the old 3A to roughly the middle of the new. Laurens has dominated the series recently, but Clinton has dominated it overall. Eighteen consecutive Clinton wins in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s don’t count for much now.

Dakota Webb (42)
Dakota Webb (42)

Interest, though, remains high. The upstart Red Devils look surprisingly strong. Fans left W.L. Varner and Wilder stadiums, respectively, feeling great after the most recent results.

Laurens’ 14-13 setback at Woodruff, a member of the same 3A region as Clinton, was disconcerting, but the Raiders beat themselves, which is only what Liner has been warning them against since long before practice even began. The Wolverines blocked two punts, and the Raiders missed an extra point.

Woodruff defeated Saluda, 13-7, in the first half of the Clinton Jamboree.
Woodruff defeated Saluda, 13-7, in the first half of the Clinton Jamboree.

It wasn’t a real game, though. It wasn’t a real half-game. It was preparation for a real game. It was finding what needs to be corrected.

Against Woodruff, Liner said it looked like “we’re trying to put bubble gum on the Hoover Dam.”

He added, “I’m not worried at all. That sucked. We lost, but it was a jamboree. The way we lost kind of irritates you because you shouldn’t have, but we did. I don’t want it to get in our kids’ heads because it reminded me of the first three games of last year.”

DSCF3611I might have more personal insight into the upcoming Laurens County championship game had it not been for the various steps taken to get accounts of the events of Thursday and Friday nights in the sports pages of the Greenwood Index-Journal.

Last night, as I was talking to the head coach at Saluda (which Woodruff defeated, 13-7), the Red Devils were lining up for the kickoff. I slowly worked my way around the perimeter of Keith Richardson Field, scribbling stats as best I could, chatting with the chain crew and refs, and snapping photos that became increasingly more blurry as lights replaced sunlight.

DSCF3622

This is the story I filed for a 10 p.m. deadline, but it was all I could do to process the photos and write essentially a blow-by-blow of the proceedings without making an attempt to total my statistics, which were about as meticulously recorded as the photos were shot.

Jalen Carter (5) opposite Thurmond's Amani Jones.
Jalen Carter (5) opposite Thurmond’s Amani Jones.

Clinton won a defensive struggle punctuated by a single magical pass, 69 yards from Charlie Craven to Aaron Copeland, that decided the outcome against the Strom Thurmond Rebels.

Thurmond, like its namesake, is no slouch. According to the MaxPreps preseason rankings, the Rebels are ranked 23rd in the state after finishing 10-2 in 2015. Clinton finished 3-7 and is ranked No. 93. Laurens was 6-6 and is ranked 46th.

Clinton head coach Andrew Webb
Clinton head coach Andrew Webb

Being the curious sort that I am, I got up this morning and attempted to make some sense of last night’s Clinton-Thurmond statistics. I found that Clinton produced five first downs to Thurmond’s three, outpassed the Rebels 95 yards to 15 and were outrushed, 68-33. Clinton’s Craven completed seven out of 10 passes, connecting with Copeland on three of them.

Head coach Andrew Webb was playing the tune that has been a bit of a dirge in recent years. Clinton is the home of eight state championships, but last year’s team didn’t even make the playoffs. The season hasn’t begun, but the fans like what they are seeing, and so does the coach.

Clinton defeated Blue Ridge, 24-7, on Thursday night.
Clinton defeated Blue Ridge, 24-7, on Thursday night.

He said he is determined to “get Clinton back to what Clinton should be known for, and that’s good football.”

Clinton has probably played Laurens in an opening game before, but it’s been a while. At least 50 years have passed. I had time this morning to add up the stats of the scrimmage, but not the time to look that up. Maybe, in the nearly two weeks between now and the game, I can find a year.

“We think it will be great for both of our communities,” Webb said. “Everybody wants to come out and see what Clinton and Laurens have. Week one, to do it against each other, I hope it’s a great atmosphere for both teams. We expect this place (Wilder Stadium, which surrounds the aforementioned Richardson Field) to be full.

“Our guys are playing hard. They’re playing physical. They’re playing the way the Clinton Red Devils are expected to play.”

Now lies the lull as the thunderheads start to form out on the horizon.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Crazy of Natural Causes is on sale at $1.99. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Now I Gotta Scramble Some Eggs

(Monte Dutton photos)
Twon Roberson (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, August 12, 2016, 9:46 a.m.

“Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.” — Otto von Bismarck.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

A little of this probably exists in every means of making a living. Somewhere right now, two florists are having a drink, trading stories about the ugly side of a pretty job.

“Uhhhhhh. Camellias are nasty.”

“God, Frank, have you ever tried to keep tulips fresh?”

“It’s a nightmare.”

Rainbow

Such is the case with sportswriters. Writing about the Super Bowl is of greater import, but the Authur State Bank Wolverine Showcase is just as stressful. Or can be, even if a lovely rainbow arches over one end zone of W.L. Varner Stadium shortly before the proceedings commence.

No Boy Scout ever headed off to the camporee better prepared than a certain scribe for Woodruff Thursday night.

Tashymen Boyd
Tashymen Boyd

For whatever reason — rainbow watching, field drying, general malaise — it all started late, though it didn’t dampen the Clinton ardor. The Red Devils scored a point a minute for 24 — under this modified, unofficial format, two quarters constitute one of three halves, or, as Larry McReynolds sometimes says during Fox NASCAR broadcasts, “Dale Junior just shaved three and two-third tenths off Smoke’s lead” — while limiting the Blue Ridge Tigers to seven.

I just wrote a paragraph that might have led readers to get a scratch pad. Oh, well. On to the sausage making.

DSCF3560Once high school football games start in earnest, deadlines will be reasonable. If this had been a regular-season game in Woodruff, I probably would have packed up and driven home, a mere 22 miles, to write a story. On this Thursday evening, the deadline was 10 p.m., a time at which the Laurens Raiders, the dual focus of my coverage, were still playing.

This was not my hope. It was my dark suspicion.

DSCF3559Before arriving at the lovely yard, bedecked with the rainbow lending credibility to the drizzle, I went to see if Burger King had wi-fi. I knew McDonald’s did, but that’s on the other side of town from Woodruff High School and the opposite from home. Burger King would be open till 10. The Index-Journal deadline was 10. Eureka!

I drove back to the stadium, enjoyed fond conversation with the friendly folks who frequent the Woodruff press box, took my camera and note pad to the sideline, where I took photos during the first quarter of the half that was a third, and went back to catch up my notes with my stats while following the second quarter that was a half that was a third. Then, while Spartanburg was holding off Chapman, 21-20, I wrote about Clinton winning, 24-7. I edited the photos, and while Laurens was playing Woodruff, drove back to Burger King to email Clinton photos and a story on the Showcase sans LDHS results.

DSCF3572

The second quarter of the third half that was mathematically a third had begun by the time I got back. I took a few blurry pictures of the Raiders, asked my peers what had happened while I was away — the score was then 7-7 — and waited for it all to end, with Woodruff winning, 14-13. I interviewed Laurens head coach Chris Liner.

Nathan Rutter
Nathan Rutter

In the parking lot, I pecked out four paragraphs on my phone and emailed them to Greenwood, where the folks at the home office pasted the brief account of the Laurens third into the account of the Clinton third and this is how it all wound up.

The above is how I did it, and how I did it was the only way it could have been done.

Now I have a fresh batch of sausage, and, somewhere, Bismarck is proud.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Crazy of Natural Causes is on sale at $1.99. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

I Don’t Have Roots to Pull for and Cover

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, August 11, 2016, 10:06 a.m.

No good verb exists for your favorite team, or race driver, or ballplayer, or golfer, etc.

Who do you pull for? For whom do you pull?

Pull for? It’s hard enough just to pull.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

I’ve put a fair amount of thought, over the past few minutes, in how to “pull for”? Let’s say you’re driving a pickup truck, with a friend, and boredom sets in, and you decide to see how far you can coast. Push in the clutch — or slip it into neutral — roll down a hill and try to get to the top of the next one. As the truck slows, you and your buddy start sliding in the seat, stupidly thinking this tiny impetus might get the truck to the top, where, presumably, its coasting can live on for another hill.

That might be an example of “pulling for.” That might be an example of needing a life.

I’ve tried not to use “pull” in relation to sports, unless it’s skeet shooting. Personally, I try to condition myself to use “root.” I root for the Red Sox. I root for the Paladins.

I’m a hog. I’m trying to get out of my pen. Oink! Oink!

Plunging into academic research — I fiddled around with my phone for two minutes — the best alternatives are “back” and “support.” I back the Red Sox. I support the Paladins.

I bore myself.

I love the Red Sox! It went unrequited last night.

 

10:35 a.m.

Everything is becoming a ballgame.

I know a ballgame when I see it. I’ve been playing in and writing about them for my whole life.

The election is a ballgame. A dirty game. The refs aren’t calling anything. No one cares about the game. Everyone cares about this game.

 

10:42 a.m.

My grandmother on my mother’s side had many nonsensical sayings. When she felt a bit puny, she’d say, “I’m about to perish to death.” “Perish” was pronounced “persh.” I was 15 years old before I realized she didn’t “ice” her potatoes before she boiled and mashed them. “Aish taters” were Irish potatoes.

I’m about to perish to death of the Olympics, and I’ve barely watched them. They’ve smothered all the channels like hash browns at the Waffle House.

I’m surprised TCM isn’t running a week of Olympic movies.

Yes, I’m ashamed of myself for feeling this way.

DSCF3495

10:55 a.m.

I remember when I wrote about football games. (By the way, I am as dismissive of “cover” as “pull for.”)

In case you aren’t convinced that football is king, I now write rich descriptions of “7-on-7 scrimmages,” which once were called games of touch, and other scrimmages that don’t count, still more than two weeks away from games that do.

The local folks can’t get too much about their Red Devils and Raiders. Tonight they’re both playing a half in a Woodruff jamboree, which means “scrimmage that sells tickets,” only they are thirds, technically, since three sessions are being played. Each third is what would normally be a half: Clinton vs. Blue Ridge, 6:30 p.m.; Spartanburg vs. Chapman, 7:30; and Laurens vs. Woodruff, 8:30.

Me to the local McDonald’s to file story and photos, no later than 10 p.m.

All that having been snarked, I’m part of the local folks, too. I love hanging out on practice fields and chatting with coaches. It unearths my inner kid. Most sports fans feed an inner kid. A few get to buy it meals.

I also like the tension of deadline pressure. Another political analogy: It’s the art of the possible. Write the best you can do in the least possible time. It’s like taking the SATs every Friday night.

And, occasionally, Thursday night for a jamboree in Woodruff.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Crazy of Natural Causes is on sale at $1.99. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

So Far, So Good, So Early

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 6, 2016, 5:57 p.m.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

I’ve seen the Red Devils and Raiders in combat mode. I guess it can be said that they are going on maneuvers. The first battle is between them on August 26.

On Friday night — it was mostly Friday day since it started at 6 — Clinton defeated Ninety Six, 34-19, and I’m guessing it was longer than a game because the Red Devil quarterback, Charlie Craven, completed 27 out of 39 passes for 463 yards, and the running game was potent, too, so I’m guessing the offense in an actual game will not be putting up numbers as if Mike Leach was the head coach instead of Andrew Webb.

DSCF3469Last year Clinton was 3-7. The team is coming off three straight losing years. The town and its surrounding area — District 56 counts Joanna, Cross Hill, Mountville and other nearby metropoli among its constituency — are ill suited to football seasons bereft of glory.

DSCF3455It being Clinton — Look upon my works, ye mighty, with despair! — the schedule is backbreaking, as Red Devil schedules are wont to be.

DSCF3486Realistically, if Clinton comes out of the first four games — Laurens, Greer, Aiken and Abbeville — with a victory or more, the rest of the campaign bodes well.

That having been said, the summer workouts and the preseason to date have gone just about as well as they possibly could. Clinton will be smaller than most of its opponents, but the chief signal that emerged from Ninety Six’s visit was:

DSCF3463These kids will hit you. They’ll swarm on defense like worker bees, and Craven, the rough and ready quarterback, is more efficient than was he in 2015. The throwers are throwing, the runners are running, the receivers are receiving, and the defensive is drawing the kinds of guttural roars from the Wilder Stadium concrete that are traditionally associated with the sound of the yard.

Football has changed. Modern rules do not foster a brand of the game in which defenses limit offenses to negative rushing yards. Sometimes the rules do not allow football players to play football, and Clinton has had some trouble adjusting to this change of atmosphere.

The Red Devils look like they know what they are doing, a tribute to Webb and his staff, and what remains is to find out if they are strong enough to do it well. There appears no apparent doubt in their minds, which can probably be said by at least three quarters of the football teams out there now, and the other quarter thinks it believes it but doesn’t quite.

DSCF3500In Laurens, the theme is a slightly different variation. Chris Liner, the loquacious Raider mentor, told his team at the end of its sweltering Saturday that he was pleased with how fast they are going but a bit mystified at where to. In other words, at times, LDHS goes wide open for no apparent reason.

But they’re loaded. The holes left from a 6-6 season seem filled. Either of the new quarterbacks is likely to be fine. The running backs, Troy Dendy and D.Q. Floyd, are quicksilver. A freshman with the build of a future Shrine Bowler, Duane Martin, is a young man we shall get to know better.

DSCF3523The Laurens soccer field might as well have been Death Valley (California, not Clemson) on Saturday morning. Five teams milled about, cursing the sun, with four of them occupied at any given time either down in the soccer valley or up on the baseball outfield. Emerald, Midland Valley, Thurmond and Mauldin didn’t come for a tea party. K.C. Hanna Stadium was not an option because it has been resodded and the rush is on to get it ready for the home opener by staying off it now.

I left dehydrated, and the most athletic moves I made involved snapping photos.

Hope springs eternal before seasons begin, and the nature of dreams is that very few are fulfilled. For that to happen, though, dreams must be in place.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).