CLOVER — With 2011 behind them, the Clover Blue Eagles are looking forward to a more competitive football season.
Last year’s season was filled with controversy as 13 players were suspended after allegations of hazing. The junior varsity program was suspended as JV players were elevated to the varsity team.
After a criminal investigation, York County Solicitor Kevin Brackett and York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant dismissed the hazing allegations as mere “horse play.” Two civil suits filed over the hazing are still pending.
The Blue Eagles finished the season 2-9.
Clover will try to regroup this season but head coach John Devine isn’t overly optimistic , knowing there could be some challenges ahead.
“We have made some progress in the weight room, but we still have a ways to go,” he said. “We are still a very young football team. The seniors we do have are quality kids; there just aren’t enough of them. We feel good about the direction we are going. We just need some positive things to happen for us.”
Clover should have about 40 players on the varsity squad, including some sophomores.
“Our 10th grade class is probably the biggest class we got,” Devine said. “Number wise you would like to have more seniors, but we are working in that direction, but it’s going to take time.”
Senior running back Aaron Felder is the only consistent starter returning to the Clover offense.
“We are having to rebuild the offensive line,” Devine said. “We had a number of kids play the second half of the year after all the suspension, but as far as kids that started all of last year, Aaron would be the only guy.”
In the past, Clover has been known for its running game.
“We have to win the line of scrimmage,” Devine said. “We want to be able to run the football and throw it when we have too.”
Junior quarterback Scott Jackson could be the player to lead the Clover offense.
The Blue Eagles are also hoping for big things from Jevaughn Starr, a transfer in from Forestview in Gastonia, N.C., and senior running back Dekevis Adams.
On defense, there are four to five players returning with significant experience and Devine said there are also some newcomers he is looking at to step up.
“One thing we talked about is to put more pressure on the ball and be more aggressive up front on the rush and in our blitz packages,” Devine said.
One thing Devine would like to see is his team be more competitive during region play.
“We weren’t very competitive last year,” he said. “We are trying to get where we are competitive in this region. It’s a tough region. We want to get it where we give ourselves a chance and compete with the best this state has to offer.”
2012 Clover varsity football schedule
Aug. 17 vs. South Florence, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 24 at Forestview (NC), 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 31 vs. Spring Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Boiling Springs, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Nation Ford, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 vs. Rock Hill, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 vs. Northwestern, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Lancaster, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19 vs. South Pointe, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Fort Mill, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 at York, 7:30 p.m.