Those 5-0 Clover Blue Eagles are at it again, running up a storm after having to replace the entire offense with the exception of senior quarterback Aaron Miller.
But if a team had to build around one player, he's a good one to take with first pick. Miller is a three-year starter and has always had the ability to break long plays. In his first two seasons he was content to run the Blue Eagles double-wing offense by handing off to his stable of backfield mates.
The situation changed this year and Miller was told to run more when he saw an opening. He's taken the challenge seriously, rushing for 1,585 yards and 16 touchdowns.
But Miller is by no means a one-man wrecking crew. It might seem that way to opposing teams but that's not the case.
Never miss a local story.
Miller leads the way with 704 yards and eight TDs, Derrick Carothers has 378 yards and a TD, Davontay Brown has run for 117 yards and eight TD. In a 35-14 win over rival York last Friday, Clover had 60 carries for 443 yards and five touchdowns. Carothers had 147 yards but didn't dent the end zone. Miller had 127 yards and run for three scores, while Brown had 125 yards and one TD run.
Vintage Blue Eagles, nothing new about them to the teams in South Carolina except for the names, faces and jersey numbers. On Friday, the state of Florida will be introduced to Clover.
According to assistant coach Butch Windell, Clover was in dire straits for an 11th game and thought one had been set up with Riverside. But a change in realignment made the Warriors unavailable, so Clover AD Carroll Hester was called to duty for finding another game.
He found one against Fort Walton Beach High School in the panhandle, a 10- hour drive by charter bus.
Fort Walton Beach, the first of two Vikings teams on Clover's 2010 schedule, has an enrollment of 1,913 students in grades 9-12. The Vikings, off to an 0-2 start, are in Class AAAA, the highest level in Florida.
Don't count out Fort Walton. Clover coach Jet Turner and his staff will treat this game like it's the Super Bowl. The last thing the Blue Eagles want is to travel that far and not leave an impression of how competitive football is in the Palmetto state. The Vikings have won two state championships in football.
Fort Walton has had its share of big-time players pass through its doors, including Danny Wuerffel, who won the 1996 Heisman Trophy and 1996 national football championship while playing quarterback at the University of Florida; Glen Coffee a University of Alabama standout from 2006-2008 and former running back for the San Francisco 49ers; and E.G. Green a former wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2000.
Windell said Clover's team pulls out early Thursday morning and will spend the night in Atlanta. He said the Blue Eagles will eat at The Varsity, an Atlanta landmark, practice that afternoon at Georgia Tech and do some sightseeing. The games is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. When it is over, the players will shower and board the bus for the trip home.
ESPN2: Clover isn't the only team that will be in the spotlight this Friday.
South Pointe will be making a second appearance on national TV when the Stallions travel to Wofford's Gibbs Stadium to play the Spartanburg Vikings at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. South Pointe played rival Northwestern on ESPNU on Aug. 28 and lost 42-20 after leading 20-7 at the half.
INJURIES: Clover's J'ai Littlejohn will be sidelined at least two more weeks after the Blue Eagles win over York last Friday.
The game was stopped late in the fourth quarter and Littlejohn was taken to Carolinas Medical Center for what was thought to be a severe concussion. Clover assistant coach Robbie Wiggins said early Saturday morning that Littlejohn was moving and talking in the emergency room, telling those listening how he was injured. Kudos to the York fans for giving Littlejohn and standing O when he was carted off.
This is how Ryan Fagan, a Herald correspondent covering the game, described what happened:
The loudest cheer of this rivalry night came after the game clock stopped for the final time, with 2:43 left on the scoreboard.
J'ai Littlejohn, a junior, who was being carted off the field by paramedics and trainers, raised his right arm up a couple of feet off the stretcher and the crowd, which had waited more than five minutes to see a positive sign after Littlejohn fell to the turf, responded with a cheer that seemed equal mix joy and relief.
"It was very scary," Clover coach Jet Turner said. "We don't really know right now. He's conscious and awake, but I really don't know."
Littlejohn was on the kickoff coverage team, in fact was the first Blue Eagle down the field on the squib kick after quarterback Aaron Miller scored to put Clover up 35-14 late in the game. He put a hit on a York player, then as he was jogging back to the sidelines, he fell down on his back.
Rock Hill quarterback Corey Wessinger was taken to Piedmont Medical Center on Friday after being slammed to the ground on a clean hit by a South Pointe's Gerald Dixon. It was believed that Wessinger had a broken jaw, but X-rays showed it was only bruised.
Wessinger has been cleared to play this week but his status hasn't been decided by the Bearcats' coaches.
AWARDS: This week's Tri-County Football Coaches Association's award winners:
OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Justin Worley (Northwestern) 29-of-38 passing, 365 yards, 5 TDs. Honorable mention: Preston Fry (Fort Mill); Derrick Carothers (Clover); Tay Hicklin (South Pointe). OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: Steven Nance (N) graded 92%. Honorable mention: Devin Hutchinson (CL). DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Andre Foulk (Lancaster) 15 tackles, sack, QB pressure. Honorable mention: Jordan Loy (FM); James Walker (CL); Collins Mauldin (N); Mitchell Jeter (Rock Hill); Gerald Dixon (SP). DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Thomas Perry (RH) 14 tackles, fumble recovery, QB hurry. Honorable mention: Jerry Sanders (CL); Gerald Dixon (N); Jadeveon Clowney (SP). SPECIAL TEAMS: Nic Couser (N) punt return yards 3 for 76 yards (average 25 per); kickoff return yards 3 for 71 yards (a. 24 per) 147 total yards. Honorable mention: None.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Breyon Williams (Indian Land) 13 carries for 109 yards, 2 TDs, scored the game winning TD on a trap play with 17 seconds remaining in the game. Honorable mention: Deon Strong (Chester). OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: Darius Foote (CH) graded 80%. Honorable mention: Marc Morris (IL). DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Julius Pendergrass (CH) 12 tackles. Honorable mention: Breyon Williams (IL). DEFENSIVE LINE: Marc Morris (IL) 7 tackles, Big Hit. Honorable mention: None. SPECIAL TEAMS: Austin Kerr (CH) 3 punts, 41.0 yard average, 2 inside the 20. Honorable mention: Daniel Helms (IL).