If and when first-year Clover coach Chad Smith gets his program back to the level it was at when the Blue Eagles won a state title in 2007, you may well look back at Friday as the night when it all started.
After his Blue Eagles fell just short of rival York, falling 13-10, Smith wanted to make it perfectly clear that is exactly what people better get ready for, and sooner rather than later.
Were not trying to build something, we are building something, Smith said. And I think they know that tonight. They tried to pour it on at the end and our kids didnt quit. Were going to be back, and were going to be back in a hurry. If we played them the first week theyd beat us 55-0. I dont believe in moral victories, but they know theyve been in a ballgame.
York quarterback Dashaw Andrews threw the first punch with a 52-yard touchdown run just 1:05 into the game for a 6-0 lead.
Clover clearly came in with a game-plan to ride senior running back Ladarius Adams to limit the Cougars possessions. The plan could not have worked much better as Adams carried the first nine plays of the drive for 68 yards down to the 2. But after that ninth play, the Blue Eagles were whistled for a personal foul that backed them to the 17 for third down instead. They lost four yards on third down and Adam Edmunds 38-yard field goal try had the distance but missed wide left.
Those mistakes kill you in a ballgame like this, Smith said. We made a big mistake, but the kid did it playing a hundred miles an hour and I can handle that.
A personal foul call on York as Clover was driving just before the half helped move the Blue Eagles into field goal position again, and this time Edmunds drilled a 31-yarder as the clock hit zero to send the home team into the locker room with momentum.
Clover kept that momentum as they came out in the second half with a 15-play, 70-yard drive that ate 9:18 off the clock. Adams carried on 11 of those plays for 49 yards, and when he scored on a three-yard run at the 2:42 mark of the third quarter, the 1-9 Blue Eagles led the twice-beaten Cougars 10-6. Adams carried the ball 42 times in the game for 199 yards and his coach could not have been more proud.
Hes a fantastic kid and hes a helluva lot better than Ryan Moore, he just doesnt get credit for it, Smith said.
York answered immediately with a quick and precise ten-play, 64-yard drive to go back ahead 13-10. Andrews hit senior wideout Josh McCoy on five of those plays, including the last one that covered 10 yards to paydirt on the first play of the final quarter.
When Clover got the ball back, they were able to drive to the Cougars 45, but a halfback pass, the first and only pass from Clover, by junior Coby Hamblen fell short of an open R.J. Moore with 8:23 left and the Blue Eagles punted. That was their last real chance to score as the York punter pinned them at their 9 on their next and final possession. They were unable to move the ball and turned it over on downs at the 10 with 1:12 left. Clovers ground-and-pound run game produced a lightning fast one hour and 45 minute old-school football game that is rarely seen these days.
I told their coach, thats amazing that a team that is 1-31, to keep them out here and keep them interested in football is extremely special, York coach Bobby Carroll said. He must be doing a tremendous job. Im just proud of our defense. We cant simulate their offense in practice. Its a new season, 9-2 at York, weve won 29 games in three years and we appreciate our fans coming out here. Well see what happens in the playoffs, its a new season.
York 13, Clover 10
YCHS;6;0;0;7- 13 CHS;0;3;7;0- 10
Scoring summary YCHS - Deshaw Andrews 52 run (2-point failed) CHS - Adam Edmunds 31 kick CHS - Ladarius Adams 3 run (Edmunds kick) YCHS - Josh McCoy 10 pass from Andrews (Buddy Anderson kick)
YCHS;CHS First downs;12;17 Rushes-yards;23-116;56-245 Passing;101;0 Comp-Att-Int;13-17-0;0-1-0 Fumbles-lost;1-1;2-0 Penalties-yards;6-45;5-35
Individual statistics Rushing - York: Deshaw Andrews 8-76, Ryan Moore 14-43, Patch Edwards 1-(-3). Clover: Ladarius Adams 42-199, R.J. Moore 4-7, Tanner Whitley 4-15, Zach Conrad 2-11, Coby Hamblen 1-5, Scott Jackson 3-8. Passing - York: Andrews 13-17-101-1. Clover: Hamblen 0-1-0. Receiving - York: Moore 2-6, Kyron Schrouder 4-18, Josh McCoy 8-77. Clover: None. Records - York: 9-2, 5-2 Region 3-AAAA; Clover: 1-10, 1-6.