Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, September 13, 2015, 4 p.m.
Nice people live in Woodruff. If they were any nicer, undoubtedly, they’d be in Clinton. The Wolverines have been hosting the Red Devils, and the Red Devils have been returning the favor, for almost a century, at least in football. Few were the seasons without a Clinton-Woodruff game.
The press box at W.L. Varner Stadium was highly agitated during Clinton’s surprising 32-13 victory over Woodruff, but everyone maintained a sense of decorum. The Clinton radio team was on the opposite side of the field, and my Clinton residency was well known, but those wearing maroon and gold were gracious toward the triumphant visitors, whom their team had felled, 35-14, in Clinton the year before. I was gracious, as well, even though I wasn’t wearing red because, many years ago, I discovered a sports writer was much more likely to get good quotations from a coach if he didn’t walk up to him wearing the regalia of the opponent. I had driven up to Woodruff, not much more than twenty miles, wearing neutral navy.
Clinton is now 2-2. All four opponents have been ranked in various places. The Red Devils have fallen on hard times in recent years, and part of the evidence was the radio show I was listening to the following morning on the way to Charlotte. The knowledgeable host said the upset was shocking because Clinton had been winless and that the Red Devils had been smeared by Greer, 40-8, the previous week. It had actually been two weeks since that smearing. Newberry had beaten Clinton during the week in question, and it was 43-20.
Four games into the career of a new head coach, Andrew Webb, an energetic and genial young man, Clinton has played two extraordinary games and two that were similar in experience to dental work. From here on out, the team will demonstrate whether it is erratic or emerging.
The other ancestral rival, Laurens, is next.
By the time I had gotten finished cropping photos, writing about the game, and sending everything in, it was late, late (James Corden was on) instead of late (Stephen Colbert), and, in order to drive to the UNCC campus to watch Presbyterian play Charlotte at noon, I had to get up early, early on Saturday.
Roy Walker and I had planned this for a couple months. Roy and I played for the Red Devils forty years ago, and he went on to become an Oscar-winning (okay, it was the Jacobs Blocking Trophy) lineman for the Blue Hose afterward.
It’s funny about best friendships. They go into hibernation for decades sometimes, but nothing much has changed when the get-togethers resume. Roy was one of my favorite people four decades ago and still is. He looks like he could still play for Presbyterian, but after the two of us had to walk quite a ways to and from Jerry Richardson Stadium after parking on the roof of a deck equipped with many stairs, I no longer believe it to be the case that Roy could squeeze into a No. 77 jersey (70 in high school) and get the Blue Hose rushing attack going again.
Maybe for a few plays.
It needed something. Presbyterian once again has a good defense. Offense was almost nonexistent, and the predictable result was Forty Niners 34, Blue Hose 10. This happens from time to time when little schools play big ones. Meanwhile, in faraway Blacksburg, Virginia Tech was taking Ohio State out on Furman, my alma mater, by a measure of 42-3. At least I wasn’t there. It wouldn’t have been too bad, of course. I would have hobnobbed with people wearing purple the same way I enjoyed fellowship with those wearing blue. I didn’t go to PC, but I still have Clinton cred. In the stands, a lady nearby suggested that one of my faulty opinions was what one would expect from a Furman man, but I appreciated it when she acted like she was kidding.
Next week I expect to be amid the lovely shade trees near Bailey Memorial Stadium, experiencing a Saturday night game between the Blue Hose and the Camels of Campbell. I may even go in the stadium.
On Saturday, though, I returned home sunburned and tired, having dropped Roy off at his Charlotte home, still relishing the Red Devils and slightly disappointed but hardly crestfallen at the Blue Hose setback. Hearing the Furman score only caused me to say one naughty word under my breath, and I commenced to paying attention to the NASCAR race making its lonely way to conclusion on my large and well-focused television.
So far today, football of the National League variety has failed to gain my attention, due in part to going to bed at about 3 a.m. after writing, editing, compiling statistics and reviewing tweets of the Federated Auto Parts 400 that Matt Kenseth dominated.
I’m a bit dull today, and that’s why this blog isn’t a little better.
If you read my three novels — The Audacity of Dope, The Intangibles, and, most recently, Crazy of Natural Causes — you’d probably get an inkling or two of what it was like growing up in this delightful town. Here’s your chance. Click, please. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1