Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 6, 2016, 5:57 p.m.
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.
Last 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.
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:
These 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.
In 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.
The 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.
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?
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.
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.
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).