Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, October 2, 2015, 11:51 a.m.
The Red Devils are now past the halfway point of Andrew Webb’s first season as head football coach. The record is 2-4, which is not as good as everyone would like, but it is better, at this point, than last year’s mark.
Thursday was great in that Broome High School had the foresight to move the game ahead a night and, as a result, here in Clinton, we can stay in and get ready for what is apparently the mother of all stormy days tomorrow. In case you haven’t been watching The Weather Channel, we are so … uh … doomed.
Nah. We’re screwed.
Everyone on TWC is 100 percent sure that this is going to be “a major event.” Like the Super Bowl. The Daytona 500. Squealin’ on the Square. Mule Day in Columbia, Tennessee.
All wrapped up in one. Go get some bread and bottled water. Hunker down.
But I digress.
Broome, which was in about the same boat (pun intended) as Clinton, won, 17-14. The diplomatic way would be just to write the score and leave it to that, but honesty compels me to report that it wasn’t a close game. When there were 43 seconds left in the whole game, Broome led 17-0. After the horn sounded, it became 17-12, and then, long after the horn sounded, it became 17-14.
Overall, 2-4. In Region 3-3A, 0-1. The Centurions are 3-3 and 1-0. Lancaster visits Wilder Stadium next week. All I can tell you about Lancaster is that it’s “lan-kuh-STER,” not “LAN-kas-ter.”
Webb said after the game that the Red Devils and the Centurions were evenly matched, and that seemed reasonably true. Clinton didn’t score in the first half, or for the first 47 minutes and 18 seconds of the game, but Donovan Blackmon’s 65-yard touchdown run got called back by a holding penalty in the first half, and as everyone who ever cheered for a losing team said at least once and, more likely, many times, it could have been a completely different ballgame.
Actually, I doubt it, though the Red Devils would have won, I guess, had they still managed to score 14 points in the final 42 seconds. Broome had quite a few penalties, too, several of which erased similarly big gains.
The most discouraging aspect from my vantage was that it was the first time Clinton played a team whose linemen were not significantly larger than its.
Broome hurt the Red Devils badly with a set of Jacksons, Dazhon and D’Marco (the latter of which I heard called “Action” by the announcers sitting next to me at least a dozen times) and Jeters, Jarius and Lorenzo. Then there was Zeke Stringer, who sacked Red Devil quarterback Charlie Craven three times and up close and personally fouled him another.
Webb, whose father, Jimmy, was a teammate of mine 40 years ago, is doing his best. He has installed a new system, one that must be best because three quarters of the teams in the state are running it. The offense, which stares longingly at the sideline before each of its plays, is now getting them off without having to take a time-out. The hurry-up offense is gradually hurrying up.
In each of the first three games — Clinton won one of them — the team had one horrible quarter. On Thursday night, the Red Devils had 42 magnificent seconds.
Most encouraging was the play of backup quarterback Donte Reeder, who showed considerable athletic skill in his first game. He had been injured since a preseason scrimmage. The move wasn’t made to jump-start the offense. Craven was just “too banged up to go” in Webb’s words.
While I was talking to him afterward, Webb used the word “consistent” four times, and it wasn’t because they were.
The team remains behind its coach, who was certifiably truthful when he said, “Our kids aren’t going to quit fighting. I’m proud of their effort. We’ve just got to play better.”
Broome’s Jet Turner said what every coach of a Clinton opponent has said.
“Clinton is a good football team.”
What remains is for the Red Devils and their first-year head coach to prove it in what remains of the season.
Did I mention that Lancaster is 6-0?
Each of my three novels — The Audacity of Dope (2011), The Intangibles (2013), and Crazy of Natural Causes (new) — has at least a little football in it. The game is the centerpiece of The Intangibles, which is set in the 1960s. You can buy them here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1