The Clover Blue Eagles are looking to build on the success they enjoyed last year.
Head Coach Brian Lane has big numbers to work this year, and 16 starters returning.
“I am never satisfied with numbers, because you always want more,” Lane said. “However, the quality of the numbers is very good. They have worked very hard in preparation for this season.”
The Blue Eagles have 37 seniors on this year’s team, and that brings a smile to Lane’s face.
“Our leadership has been outstanding,” he said. “This group of seniors has been together for the past two years. They have grown up together, worked hard, improved, and made our program stronger.”
Lane has set goals for this year’s team.
“We want to win the first game. We want to beat our rivals,” he said. “We want to win the region and get into the playoffs.
“We want them to be leaders in the classroom and give back to the community. We expect them to work hard every day in practice and play as a team. They have seen the improvement and recognized that it came about through hard work.”
Lane said his offensive line is solid. He said that group works hard every day and has come a long way.
The offensive backfield features several experienced players. Quarterback Gabe Carroll and running backs David Hall and B. J. Tims will be the leaders, Lane said. The receiving corp is loaded with experience and excellent athletes, the coach said. It features returning starters in Jaylin Lane, Zion Robbins, Zacch Davis, and Blackmon Huckabee.
The Blue Eagles defensive line is big, strong, quick, and physical. J. Q. Guinn, Jaylon Ballard and Zach Blanchard will lead that group.
Lane said the linebackers are the overall leaders of the defensive unit. Shon Brown and Hayden Johnson are back for their third seasons as starters. The secondary is young, but they have experience. Chance Mackey and Rhyan Cheatham are the top players in that group.
Alex Hodge will handle the punting, while Christian Erwin does the place kicking. Jaylin Lane and Davis will return kickoffs and punts.
The coach said his team has room for growth.
“I am very pleased with the way we have worked since we began preparations for this season,” Brian Lane. “We are stepping it up, and I like our work ethic as we strive to get better.”
The Blue Eagles play a tough non-region schedule and then follow that with a difficult region slate.
“Playing tough teams in non-region prepares you for the region games, and that is the way I want it,” the coach said. “Our region is very tough and competitive. You have to be ready every Friday night.”
Despite the fact that Clover has improved tremendously since Lane’s arrival, the veteran coach says there is still work to be done.
“This program is not where I want it to be,” he said. “It is better than it was when I got here. I attribute that to our hard-working players and our excellent coaching staff. They have worked hard to get us to where we are. We are continuing to work with the middle school programs, because that is the future.”
Coming Monday: Fort Mill