Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 25, 2018, 11:12 a.m.
The game was played at 8 p.m. instead of 7:30 because the likelihood a week earlier was that it would be too hot to meet the South Carolina High School League’s protective requirements. As it turned out, 7:30 would have been fine. It was cool for late August at Wilder Stadium, scene of many sweltering nights.
In another way, the game didn’t really start until almost 9:30 because the first half was scoreless as Laurens and Clinton rammed into each other with thunderous clashes of what passes in football for infantry advances. The Raiders lined up with a diamond in the backfield, four backs in a square turned 45 degrees, with quarterback Ryan Campbell at the shotgun point. The Red Devils opened the game in the wishbone, a formation that has been inextricably linked to them, at least on short yardage, since the early 1970s.
For a ground-oriented attack, in an age ruled elsewhere by the pass, Laurens looked sort of newfangled in a way that wouldn’t have seemed so different had the head coach been Clark Shaughnessy or Knute Rockne instead of Chris Liner. He called it the “diamond pistol triple option” and portrayed it as a variation on how Georgia Tech operates, though the Yellow Jackets put their quarterback under center. Liner said his team can do that. It just hasn’t yet.
Scoring in the second half improved infinitely because zero is zero percent of anything else, and the teams combined for 48.
The final score was Laurens 34, Clinton 14. Twice in the fourth quarter, the Red Devils crept within six, but the Raiders’ superior size wore them down.
What Clinton head coach Andrew Webb had said all preseason was true. The Red Devils could pass if they could run. Quarterback Andrew Webb passed successfully but not successfully enough. The Raider defense got up on its toes but not its heels.
Laurens, a Class 5A school, deserved the county championship because it looked the way numbers would suggest. Clinton, in Class 3A, won’t accept that size matters, but a neutral observer, of which the crowded stadium had few, would’ve suspected it.
The season is long. Myrtle Beach visits Laurens next week, and Clinton takes a trip to Broome, near Spartanburg, to play a team called the Centurions that was in its own Region 3 until this year. All that tires me about Broome is having to type “Centurions” repetitively because there is no short version. “Cents” or “Ions” would be deemed unacceptable by the blue-clad, would-be Romans there.
If you enjoy my insights about racing and other subjects, make a small pledge of support. Rewards are in place for pledges of $5 or more. If 1/10 of my followers and Facebook friends pledge $1 a month, I’ll be set. Read all about it here.
If you yearn for my writing in larger doses, I’ve written quite a few books. Most are available here.
Lightning in a Bottle, the first of my two motorsports novels, is now available in audio (Audible, Amazon, iTunes) with the extraordinary narration of Jay Harper.
Just out is my eighth novel, a political crime thriller called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s right up to date with the current political landscape in the country.
My writing on other topics that strike my fancy is posted here.