A Small Miracle

A surprisingly large crowd got a an even larger surprise from the Clinton Red Devils.

A surprisingly large crowd got an even larger surprise from the Clinton Red Devils.

[cb_profit_poster Travel1]Clinton, S.C., Saturday, October 12, 2013, 12:12 p.m.

The afternoon channel surfing has begun. My first priority, at the moment, is Texas-Oklahoma, followed by South Carolina-Arkansas and Missouri-Georgia. The priorities may change as the day develops and some games are close and others aren’t. Right now the Longhorns are driving, so I may linger a while.

At the moment, I’m still savoring last night’s oasis at Wilder Stadium. Clinton entered the game 0-6. Chapman, which is located in the hometown of James Harvey Hylton (Inman), was 5-1.

Clinton won, 50-21. At one time, it was 47-7.

Here’s a dirty little secret. The only time in history Clinton ever had a winless season was 1933. The Red Devils had not started 0-6 since 1941.

Whew. We can chalk up 1933 to the Great Depression. Rest assured, apparently there won’t be another Pearl Harbor this year.

I hear Chapman was missing its star receiver. The Panthers’ quarterback fell in the second half, but Clinton was already far ahead by that point.

Forget the details. It was a miracle. Perhaps, now, the Red Devils will remain awakened. They’re 1-1 in region play. Not that anyone should get his or her hopes up just yet, but it’s still possible to make the playoffs.

Fans have an endearing tendency to get their hopes up, but for now, all this lone victory does is make wandering around town – to the Mexican joint, or the office-supply store, or the post office – a little more pleasant.

The first impression when I got to the stadium – later I even walked across Keith Richardson Field – was, it’s amazing that a large crowd will still turn out to see an 0-6 team play. Yes, it was homecoming, and homecoming means more to small schools than large ones. When Clemson has its homecoming, all those people come every week anyway. At Furman, my alma mater, it’s a lot bigger deal because lots of people come from a long way away once a year. It’s about the same at Clinton High School, at Presbyterian College here in town, and at relatively small schools all across the country.

Last night the Class of 1983 was in reunion. Some of its members were at the game in coats and ties, some were wearing Bass Pro Shops caps and camo fatigues. Some had been traveling; some had been deer hunting.

I watched the game with an old friend who joined me after I yelled at him. He kept partial tabs on his beautiful girls, who happened by breathlessly from time to time. It was his first game of the year even though he’s not in the Class of 1983. “I keep up with them in the Chronicle, though,” he said.

We talked about what was wrong – I’d seen all six losses – as the team informed us it was nothing.

Texas and Oklahoma are tied at 3. I’m going to watch a while.

Chronicle21:03 p.m.

Last night, as noted, I watched the Chapman-Clinton game in the stands, and all I reported was the score via Twitter and Facebook from time to time. The previous two weeks I covered the game for the local paper because its regular reporter was otherwise occupied.

As you may remember from a previous blog, the two losses, both on the road, were the first high-school football games I covered in more than 15 years.

Did I enjoy it? Well, kind of. Writing about high-school football is a chance to go back to what Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings called “he basics of love.” It’s not the same love they were singing about, but I was a journalist for the majority of my life, and I didn’t go into it just for the hell of it. I loved writing about sports (and, obviously, still do).

It also involves doing it all yourself. Cover a college game, and there’s someone else providing the statistics and, in almost all cases, a brief description of each play. Someone hands out the stats. At a high school game, it’s everyone for himself (or herself).

At Abbeville, there wasn’t room for me in the press box. I sat in the back row of the home side with binoculars around the neck, program lying next to me and clipboard and pen in hand. I had no place to set up the laptop, which the folks there were kind enough to let me store in the press box.

At Broome (near Spartanburg), I did sit in the press box and used the laptop, though if I ever cover another high-school game, I’ll use the clipboard. It’s just easier to write the information than it is to type it in. Too many tabs and shifts and alignments. I always keep individual running totals, then go back later and make sure they’re correct. For instance, a description of a play might be:

3-2-24                        Dowdy 3 rt (9-42)*

Translated, that means that, on third down and two from the 24-yard line, Dowdy ran for three yards off right tackle, giving him 42 yards in nine carries for the game. The asterisk denotes a first down. Occasionally, I write more information if it’s an important play, and I list the time on the clock for scores and changes of possession. I’ve been basically doing it this way since I was a stringer for nearby games while in college.

After over 15 years, I had no trouble at all remembering how to do it. I was a little rusty, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it. What was difficult was trying to do it inside a laptop, which I shan’t try again.

I realize most of you have little interest in the fortunes of my old high school, but I assume that many of you have old high schools and may find some common ground. Other than that, it’s just what I felt like writing today, and since I write a blog most every day, this is bound to happen from time to time.

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About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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