Off and Literally Running

(Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, August 25, 2018, 11:12 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

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.

( photo)

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.

( photo)

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.


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About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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