Enquirer Herald

Blue Eagles face Rebels

CLOVER -- Byrnes wants to ruffle some feathers. Clover is out to rouse the Rebels.

Something's gotta give when the Clover Blue Eagles square off against the Byrnes Rebels at Nixon Field Friday night.

The 7:30 p.m. Class AAAA playoff headliner is a battle of defending state champions, Byrnes in Division 1, Clover in Division II.

The Rebels, 11-1, were ranked No. 1 in the nation before losing to cross-county rival Dorman.

The visiting Blue Eagles are 9 and 3, with down-to-the-wire losses to 4A powers Northwestern and Rock Hill and an early-season defeat to No. 2 rated South Point.

Clover's signature win was a 37-35 thriller at Gaffney, a team that steamrolled highly-touted Summerville 40-10 in first round playoff action.

The Rebels are coming off a 34-0 shellacking of Spartanburg.

Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore, who this week received an offer from Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns, slashed for 177 yards and three touchdowns against the Vikings.

The Rebels outgained Spartanburg with 378 total yards to 115, and forced seven punts on the night.

"Byrnes is one of the best teams in the nation," CHS head coach Jet Turner said in his weekly interview. "We have the utmost respect for what they have accomplished."

Friday's marquee attraction will showcase two of the most intriguing offenses in the high school ranks, Byrnes' high powered, no-huddle spread and Clover's vaunted wing-T attack.

Clover two-way starter Ricky Moore, who sat out last week's playoff game with an injured shoulder, talked about the mindset for Friday's showdown.

"We've practiced hard this week and remain focused," the senior leader said.

Turner described Moore's playing status for Friday as 50-50, an upgrade from last week's injury report.

Two-way starter Chris Lindsay echoed his teammate's sentiments.

"We are coming together and reaching the level of play that made us a successful playoff team last year," commented Lindsay.

Sophomore quarterback Aaron Miller, an emerging threat to run or throw out of the wing-T, approaches the second-round playoff game with a positive outlook.

"I've developed more confidence at quarterback," he said. "We need to put it all together Friday night."

Said Turner in his closing remarks, "We're excited about playing at Byrnes. It'll be a great atmosphere."

The Blue Eagles withstood Mauldin's big-play capabilities en route to a 49-32 conquest of the Mavericks in opening-round playoff action at rain-soaked Memorial Stadium.

The Mavericks jumped to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, including a 71-yard TD pass from quarterback Joshua McKie to Kevin Liller.

But it wasn't enough as Miller and company unleashed the wing-T in its deadliest form, flashing and splashing their way to 517 rushing yards by game's end.

Wingback Max Elliott led the assault with 212 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.

Fullback Tyron Douglas rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns, breaking tackles and moving the pile as No. 4's been known to do.

Not to be outdone, Miller rushed for 128 yards on 14 carries and scored two TDs.

A 22-point second quarter offensive surge pushed Clover to a 29-20 halftime lead and the Blue Eagles were in the driver's seat the remainder of the game.

"We knew Mauldin was an explosive team with playmakers and a lot of speed," Turner said. "I was proud of our players.

"They kept chugging along, got the lead, made some defensive stops and came up with a hard fought win."