08/17/2014 7:42 AM

08/17/2014 7:45 AM

How they stack up

Outlook: Optimistic would be one apt descriptor for the Blue Eagles’ preseason camp. Second-year coach Chad Smith seems to have successfully washed away the gloom that hounded the program the last few seasons and has the Blue Eagles ready, at least mentally, to hike up the region standings.

Clover returns six of its seven front-line blockers from last season, including talented and large bookends Barrett Courtwright and Landon Harkey, who is the team’s top college prospect. Team captain Harrison Gibson anchors the offensive line, while fellow captain Coby Hamblen will be prominent as a spur.

Defense is where Clover really has to elevate, and Smith expects R.J. Moore, who will focus more on defense this season, and Hamblen’s fellow spur Rivington Lambert to help shore up the Blue Eagles’ defensive backside.

Departed: QB Scott Jackson, LB Corey Parham, RB/DB Keyshawn Pressley, RB Ladarius Adams, FB/LB Jakob Morrison, OL Wade Bradley

Key players: TE/DE Barrett Courtwright, WB/DB R.J. Moore, WB Cody Payne, WB Tenchi Her, S Coby Hamblen, QB Noah Lindsay, TE/DE Landon Harkey, OL Charles McClure, OL Harrison Gibson

Smith said: On his players picking up the double-wing’s finer points: “They’re starting to speak our language. They understand our concepts, they understand the value of a three-yard gain, and that’s exciting. Our scheme is completely different from 99 percent of football out there, and for a kid to finally start understanding and grasping those concepts, that’s a very exciting thing for us.”

Did you know? The Blue Eagles had 17 different players carry the ball at least once last fall, including senior Ladarius Adams, who ran for over 1,000 yards despite missing a number of games. Adams is gone, but Smith plans to use a rotation system this fall to make up for his loss. Sophomore Willie Clark, junior Cody Payne, Colton Barnes and Tenchi Her will all tote the football as Clover looks to wear down opponents with its relentless run game.

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