Big Red Gets Devilish in Soccer

Luke Mann (6) scored the first Clinton goal. (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 9:52 a.m.

Red Devil soccer has developed gradually over the years. I was away, writing oddly about race cars that go around and around, for most of its history, but it has been my theory that Clinton High School added a soccer program at just about the time sporting goods manufacturers stopped making blocked-off shoes for straight-on football kicking.

By Monte Dutton

From time immemorial until the end of the 1980s, Red Devil football had exactly one soccer-style placekicker, and the reason I am so attuned to this phenomenon is that the sidewinder in question, in 1978 and 1979, was my brother, Brack, who also played cornerback in the latter year’s Shrine Bowl. Have you ever noticed how seldom it is that a placekicker plays another position nowadays?

What I’m suggesting is that the motives might have been slightly mixed when a soccer team representing District 56 finally took the field.

On Tuesday evening, amid conditions that were almost perfect, Clinton won a Class 3A soccer playoff game for the first time … ever. All I was there to write was this. I took a few photos during the first half and then retired to the sidelines, there to complain about the officiating and be swept up in partisan fervor.

The score was Clinton (11-11) 3, Chester (8-9) 2. The Red Devils will go to Walhalla, an outpost on the far side of Clemson from here, for another match on Thursday night.

Here comes Parker Duncan.

Luke Mann, whose father once played football with me; Parker Duncan, son of our Congressman; and Elvis Fitz, who coincidentally kicked field goals and extra points for the football team last fall; scored the goals. The Red Devils outshot the Cyclones, 20-12.

Clinton took a 1-0 lead on Mann’s goal. Then it was 1-1. Then Clinton took the lead again. And Chester tied it. Duncan’s game-winner occurred in the 71st minute, three after Chester’s Jeffery Gulish scored.

At the time, things looked ghoulish. I couldn’t resist.

Duncan’s game-winner led 30 parents of Cyclones to yell aloud something like “oh, fiddlesticks!” and something less wholesome under their breaths, and about 50 Red Devil fans to exult in much the same fashion. The tone was markedly different.

Clinton: “Damned if we didn’t score! He got it! He got it! Who was it? Parker Duncan! Woo-hoo! Go, Parker!”

Chester: “Day-ummm.”

Duncan, whose thirst for the net is as great as his father’s political ambition, also had an assist, as did Jesus Gonzalez and Patrick Nelson.

If one is standing on a sideline, surrounded by others among the faithful, listening to jeers rising from the little wooden grandstand where the other team’s pilgrims have set up camp, reality gets distorted.

It was as if the officials were willing participants in a seedy attempt by the visitors to brutalize the local lads. Fans were howling for mandatory incarceration, no parole, and all the refs had to offer was a single, solitary yellow card. I even went so far as to suggest one of the co-conspirators might need an update in the prescription for his spectacles. Oh, wait. The ref wasn’t wearing glasses. Contact lenses, undoubtedy. Something was distorting his view.

Many of the fans were quite knowledgeable about the game, no doubt a result of carrying kids all over the Upstate to play club soccer for “select” teams.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

If Clinton should win at Walhalla against the Razorbacks – it seems particularly unique a nickname for soccer – then I’m told they will play Berea, the Greenville school that is, according to a reliable source standing next to me, the No. 28 team in the nation.

I’ve got my share of problems, but I’m glad I haven’t been tasked at trying to figure out the top 50 high school soccer teams in America. Lots of variables, I’m thinking.

Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.

(Steven Novak cover design)

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. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

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.

(Joe Font cover design)

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 a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

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.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

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).


Blame the Names

Deja Marshall (21) (Monte Dutton photos)
Deja Marshall (21)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, January 28, 2016, 3:48 p.m.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

The high school basketball games blend together. Remember when Kiah Young hit the bucket from the corner? Who was that against? What was that great big kid from Greenwood’s name? When did the students dress in Hawaiian shirts?

The experience is more than what takes place on the floor. It’s chatting with a coach out in the lobby, and the banter at the scorer’s table, and standing down at the end of the court with a camera hanging from my neck, making small talk with one of the referees during a timeout.

No griping. I only do that when sitting up in the stands with friends, just for fun. When I’m on the beat, it’s not my place. If I don’t have something friendly to say, I hold my tongue.

DSCF1820Then there’s the routine. I usually wind down whatever work I’m doing at home, then do a little study of the teams, shave and shower at mid-afternoon after working since breakfast, head out, and have an early supper because I’ll be too busy when I get home afterward getting the story in. Clinton High School and Presbyterian College are just a few minutes away. Laurens District 55 High School is 20 minutes. I went to Newberry a couple times between Christmas and New Year’s. I was in Simpsonville Tuesday night. I’m driving to Anderson next to see Laurens visit Westside.

Jalen Carter (12)
Jalen Carter (12)

When the game’s over, if it’s close enough to drive home, I’ll arrive back at the house, put on some coffee, go to the bathroom, hook the camera into this laptop, download the photos, start rotating, cropping and playing around with the images, get the coffee, attach the best photos in an email, put the camera away, get my notes organized, write the story and send it in. I haven’t filed on the road since a playoff football game in November, but I might do it Friday night. McDonald’s has reliable Internet and stays open till midnight on Fridays. I haven’t made up my mind yet. It might depend on where the nearest McDonald’s is. Maybe I’ll take the laptop along and make a decision after the games.

Olivia Hamrick (32)
Olivia Hamrick (32)

Who knows? I like snap judgments. I make them better than the considered ones.

DSCF1811Last night it was Chester and Clinton, both CHS’s, the visitors known as the Cyclones and the Red Devils at home. Both schools stress bright red, but Chester trims its duds in navy while Clinton touches off its wardrobes in black.

The Laurens-Westside game is going to get some interest, as the Westside Rams currently rank first in Region I-4A and the Raiders are second. Clinton and Chester were jockeying for position in the mid-regions of Region III-3A. The Red Devils won, 58-49, and that means they are 9-7 overall but only 2-4 in the region. The Cyclones fell to 10-8 and 4-2. The game was played with lots of intensity on both sides, and it might have been Clinton’s best game of the season to date. Three players — Tay Cook, Young and Jalen Carter — scored 14 points or more. The team shot almost 50 percent from the floor, and if they’ve had fewer than nine turnovers in a game, it wasn’t one I watched and the head coach recalled.

Shauna Goforth (10)

The Clinton girls aren’t going to have much more than moral victories. Yes, they get old, but at 2-13 and 1-5, losing 40-29 to Chester passed for an honorable showing. A Cyclone named Deja Marshall scored exactly the same number of points as the entire Red Devil team, and when that’s going on, it’s hard to win.

Junior Johnston (21), Demetric Hardin (1), Jalen Carter (12) and Quay Hardin (5)
Junior Johnston (21), Demetric Hardin (1), Jalen Carter (12) and Quay Hardin (5)

Clinton’s girls pass, dribble, rebound, and set picks. They play hard. They try their darndest. If they could shoot, they would be competitive, but they can’t, and they aren’t. Last night they hit 11 out of 54.

I still enjoy watching them play. I find the perseverance admirable.

Last night I added LaTerriya Tibias, Browniee McCrorey, Niquavian Coleman and Phalek Brown to the season’s Hall of Names. When I copy names out of the scorebook, I feel more pressure to get it right than I do transcribing audio. I have to write “Niquavian” carefully so that, later, I’ll read it as “Niquavian.”

Tay Cook
Tay Cook

Meanwhile, I long for a niquavian sunset. Don’t make me mad, or else I might go on a kadyah.

Junior Johnston
Junior Johnston

The most difficult part is the apostrophes that apparently came in voque 15-18 years ago, many of them for no apparent reason. Once an apostrophe was used in names similarly to the way it is used in contractions. For instance, there was a pitcher some years ago named John D’Acquisto and a character in a novel some more years ago named D’Artagnan. Now it’s Ke’Na-Ja, if you’re keeping score, which I am.

M.K. Kelly (14) and Deja Marshall.
M.K. Kelly (14) and Deja Marshall.

By season’s end will I dream of sunset evenings on the beaches of Dakaylia, Shuneiya, Malikiya, and, yes, Malaysia. I will recall the glory that was the reign of Rakevious IV of Kezario. I will scour the shelves of Game Stop looking for a Playstation version of Dahkavi Duck. Then suddenly will I feel eerie, undoubtedly from the vu of Deja Marshall and her 29 points.

To each his own. I remember a time long ago when my full name, Hudson Montgomery Dutton, was a mouthful, too.

Here’s my GoClinton/GoLaurens story on Wednesday night’s Chester-Clinton games:

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The editing process is complete, and I’ll let you know when Forgive Us Our Trespasses is available for download from Kindle Publishing. It’s a tale of crime and corruption, young and old, good and bad, cops and robbers, etc.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Meanwhile, Crazy of Natural Causes, set in Kentucky and concerning the reinvention of a football coach, was published late last summer, and, if you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look here:

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

My second novel, The Intangibles (2013), is about a high school football coach and his players trying to cope with rapid change in the 1960s South.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

The first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), is about a pot-smoking folksinger who wants no part of being a national hero. The accidental hero learns how to be a real one.

My short stories, book reviews, and essays are here:

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton. I’m a tad more irreverent @wastedpilgrim and a little more literary @hmdutton. I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Um, I think that’s it. Oh, yeah. Google+. I’m on there, too.