Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, November 17, 2016, 11:04 a.m.
In the greater scheme, the football games on Friday night are not compelling. Vladimir Putin isn’t interesting in rigging the outcomes. No one’s up for the Trump Cabinet. No one’s going to be deported. If someone gets hurt, he won’t have to rely on Obamacare.
This season, in Laurens County, began with Clinton pulling an upset over Laurens, and now both the Red Devils and the Raiders hope to advance beyond their counties and their regions. Both have 5-5 records. Clinton is the third-seeded team from Region 3-3A, and Laurens is the champion of Region 2-5A. The Red Devils were 3-2 in their region, the Raiders 4-1 in theirs.
Clinton defeated Laurens, Chesnee, Mid-Carolina, Broome and Woodruff, and lost to Greer, Aiken, Abbeville, Chapman and Newberry. Laurens defeated Irmo, Hillcrest, Wade Hampton, Riverside and Greenwood, and lost to Clinton, Chapman, Dorman, Boiling Springs and Mauldin.
Both teams are better than their break-even records indicate. Clinton played what MaxPreps rates as the toughest schedule in all of Class 3A. Clinton was 2-3 outside its region and 3-2 within it. Laurens was 1-4 and 4-1.
In regard to the Red Devils, before the season, I wrote that if they went 5-5 – and even added 2-3 outside the region and 3-2 in it – it would be a good season. That means I’m more lucky than insightful, and head coach Andrew Webb didn’t come through for me. They came through for themselves. Clinton football, proud home of 10 state championships, is on the way back. They’ve gone from 2-9 in 2014, to 3-7 in 2015, to 5-5.
Laurens could be headed for its third consecutive 6-6 season, but that’s a bit misleading. The Raiders won a region championship that hardly anyone thought possible. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone before the season, but it surprised everyone after the 1-4 start. Perhaps the team’s progress is best accentuated by Ryan Campbell, the capable freshman quarterback, who began the season on the junior varsity team.
After a season racked with injuries, the Raiders are relatively intact as the playoffs beckon. Head coach Chris Liner handled adversity with grace and optimism, and his attitude paid as many dividends as the works and deeds of his players.
Not once this year have I cranked up the truck (or car) and headed off to a ballgame without looking forward to it. I’ve dreaded some writing assignments. I’ve had some miserable days and rotten experienes. Not at a high school football game, though.
It’s been a pleasure, and I expect another one Friday night.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs.
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.
Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.
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.
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.