In the midst of a bye week, Clover coach Chad Smith will scout his Week Three opponent on Thursday night in Shelby, N.C., then enjoy a rare Friday night with entertainment options not limited to a high school football stadium sideline.
Smith and his team are catching their collective breath this week. Clover is off to a 2-0 start.
Soak that up Blue Eagles fans.
A season-opening blowout of Ashbrook (N.C.) was followed by a more convincing 19-13 win over Forestview (N.C.), a perennial playoff team. The Jaguars beat Clover by 35 and 20 points the first two times they played Chad Smith-coached Blue Eagles squads.
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The really good thing about the group of kids that we have now is they really don’t get too high or too low. And that’s exciting because when you face adversity like you had Friday night it doesn’t bother them.
Clover coach Chad Smith
Smith said Tuesday that he’s most pleased with his team’s “overall execution.”
“Last week, if we don’t have numerous touchdowns called back, several big plays called back, the result is much larger. And that’s against a Forestview team that, really the first two years I was here, dominated us.”
After a difficult stretch - the 2007 state champs were 7-49 combined the last five years - Clover has some positive momentum accruing.
The Blue Eagles put the ball in the gut of 14 different kids in the first two games, and though none of them have eclipsed 100 yards rushing individually, the team racked up 304 and 300 yards on the ground.
Superior execution - the best Smith has seen since he’s been at the school - hasn’t been limited to offense.
6.8 yards per carry for Clover through its first two games.
The Blue Eagles held their first two opponents under 200 total yards of offense, and put a wet blanket on Forestview’s run game, holding the Jaguars to four yards rushing as a team. In Week Zero, Clover shut out Ashbrook until late in the fourth quarter when backups entered the game and the Green Wave put two quick touchdowns on the board.
Smith said his defense is “more aggressive than we have been and I think our level of contact has increased.”
After the bye, the Blue Eagles step up to their toughest test yet on Sept. 9, a home game against Belmont’s South Point. The Red Raiders have won at least 10 games in eight of the last nine seasons. The extra week off is beneficial for Clover in preparing for South Point’s triple option attack.
Smith thinks that game will see the biggest crowd of the year at Clover’s Memorial Stadium, in part because of the natural rivalry with football-loving South Point, and in part because of the Blue Eagles’ fast start to 2016.
Other news and notes
▪ The public’s interest in Friday’s Rock Hill-South Pointe contest probably grew a bit after the Bearcats’ win over York last week.
Tickets for Friday’s game at South Pointe can be purchased from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at both school’s athletic offices Wednesday and Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are also available at Double B Graphix - at 924 Heckle Blvd. - from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $3 for students.
▪ Northwestern sophomore Jamario Holley bruised his collarbone in the win over Dorman and his status for Friday’s game against South Meck is uncertain. Northwestern coach David Pierce also confirmed that standout defensive lineman and Clemson commit Logan Rudolph is getting his shoulder checked out after playing just the first quarter against Dorman.
▪ Northwestern safety Ali Shockley had 26 tackles against Dorman last Friday night, giving him 42 stops through two games. A dogged run defense supporter, Shockley had 11 assists and 11 primaries to go with five solo efforts during the Trojans’ 14-point win in Spartanburg.
▪ Fort Mill’s Tony Godbolt was named a defensive captain at North Greenville University ahead of his senior season. Godbolt has started all four years at safety for the Crusaders, playing in 33 games. He was second on the team last year with 62 tackles.
▪ South Pointe’s Josh Wilkes signed with Eastern Michigan last spring but has landed at Butler Community College in Kansas instead. His college career got off to a positive start last Saturday against Fort Scott, the freshman making four catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
▪ Another South Pointe product, Nick McCloud, is making an early impact at N.C. State. McCloud is one of four true freshmen that will play for the Wolfpack this season and has been named a backup at cornerback on the team’s first fall depth chart. McCloud was also named to the football program’s leadership council as a freshman representative.
State rankings ahead of Week Two
South Pointe remained No. 1 in the state in 4A football in the latest S.C. Prep Media poll, released Tuesday afternoon. Northwestern moved up to No. 4 in 5A on the strength of a win over Dorman, which remains in that classification’s top-10 despite two losses to open the season. And Clover picked up a top-10 vote after its strong 2-0 start.
Lancaster joins South Pointe in the 4A rankings at No. 6; the Bruins were off last week and face 5A Fort Mill at home this Friday.
York fell out of the top-10 after losing to Rock Hill, but Lewisville held strong in the 1A poll at No. 5. The Lions are joined in the top-five by region rivals McBee and Lamar.
1. Fort Dorchester; 2. Westside; 3. Dutch Fork; 4. Northwestern; 5. Gaffney; 6. Spartanburg; 7. Boiling Springs; 8. Lexington; 9. Byrnes; 10. Dorman
Others receiving votes: T.L. Hanna, Greenwood, Clover, Sumter
1. South Pointe; 2. Myrtle Beach; 3. Hartsville; 4. Belton-Honea Path; 5. Ridge View; 6. Lancaster; 7. Union County; 8. North Augusta; 9. Cane Bay; 10. Airport
Others receiving votes: South Aiken, York, North Myrtle Beach, Marlboro County, Daniel; Richland Northeast; Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Beaufort, Greer, Chapin, Wren, Wilson, Westwood
1. Dillon; 2. Fairfield Central; 3. Newberry; 4. Bluffton; 5. Strom Thurmond; 6. Brookland-Cayce; 7. Woodruff; 8. Chapman; 9. Seneca; 10. Camden
Others receiving votes: Bishop England, Hanahan, Clinton, Broome, Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Crescent, Gilbert, Georgetown, Lake City
1. Abbeville; 2. Southside Christian; 3. Bamberg-Ehrhardt; 4. Calhoun County; 5. Andrews; 6. Cheraw; 7. Batesburg-Leesville; 8. Allendale-Fairfax; 9. Chesterfield; 10. Barnwell
Others receiving votes: Fox Creek, Chesnee, Saluda, Christ Church, Carvers Bay, Lee Central, Ninety Six, Silver Bluff
1. Lamar; 2. McBee; 3. Lake View; 4. Cross; 5. Lewisville; 6. Wagener-Salley; 7. C.E. Murray; 8. Hunter-Kinard-Tyler; 9. Williston-Elko; 10. Ridge Spring-Monetta
Others receiving votes: Hemingway, Baptist Hill, St. John's, Bethune-Bowman, Timmonsville, Green Sea-Floyds
The S.C. Prep Media Football Poll is conducted by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal with voting from Michael Christopher, Greenwood Index Journal; Bob Castello, Greenville News; Chris Clark, Orangeburg Times and Democrat; Chris Dearing, The State; Joe Hughes, Myrtle Beach Sun News; Kevin Melton, Spartanburg Herald Journal; Lou Bezjak, The State; Lake Morris, Anderson Independent Mail; David Shelton, Charleston Post and Courier; Bret McCormick, The Herald (Rock Hill); Scott Chancey, Florence Morning News and Eric Russell, Aiken Standard.
Tri-County Coaches Association players of the week
The Tri-County Coaches Association got together Tuesday for its first meeting of 2016 and picked award winners from Week Zero and Week One action.
4A, 5A schools
Offensive player of the week: Voshon St. Hill, South Pointe- senior rushed for 139 yards against Northwestern, including a 75-yard that set up the game-winning touchdown.
Co-offensive linemen: Preston Vang, Clover and Jaydon Collins, South Pointe- Vang graded out at 90 percent and helped the Blue Eagles rush for 304 yards, while Collins graded 94 percent with eight big blocks and a pancake.
Defensive player: Bryson Cooper, South Pointe- senior linebacker made 19 tackles against Northwestern, recorded a sack, a tackle-for-loss and recovered a fumble in the second half.
Defensive lineman: N/A
Special teams: Nick Sciba, Clover- kicker hit all seven point-after tries against Ashbrook, kicked 5-of-7 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks and averaged 42.5 yards on a pair of punts.
1A, 2A, 3A schools
Offensive player of the week: Trey Keels, Lewisville- senior QB completed 10-of-17 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Andrew Jackson.
Offensive lineman: Jaylen McFadden, Lewisville- junior offensive lineman graded out 85 percent with four knockdowns and three pancake blocks.
Defensive player: Chase Yoder, Lewisville- Lions defensive back intercepted two passes and made five tackles against Andrew Jackson.
Co-defensive linemen: Jene Thompson, Lewisville and Ethan McGriff, Chester- Thompson made 10 tackles and two sacks for Lewisville, while McGriff made nine tackles, including one for a loss and a sack.
Special teams: John Erby, Chester- junior punted six times for a 42-yard average and hit both kickoffs for touchbacks.
4A, 5A schools
Offensive player: Dre Robinson, Rock Hill- senior QB threw for 390 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for three more. Robinson committed no turnovers and completed 65 percent of his passes.
Offensive lineman: Jaydon Collins, South Pointe- junior offensive lineman graded 93 percent with three big blocks and a pancake against Nation Ford.
Defensive player: Devardo Williams, Rock Hill- linebacker made 17 tackles with one for a loss and a pass break-up.
Defensive lineman: N/A
Special teams: Zhenya Deller, Rock Hill- senior kicker hit all five kickoffs for touchbacks and made all seven PATs against York.
1A, 2A, 3A schools
Offensive player: Quentin Sanders, Lewisville- Sanders ran the ball 24 times for 212 yards and two touchdowns and completed 5-of-12 passes for 62 yards and another score against Blacksburg.
Offensive lineman: Jake Locklear, Indian Land- big junior graded out at 88 percent during the Warriors’ overtime win against Buford.
Defensive player: Isaiah Parker, Andrew Jackson- Parker had a huge game during the Volunteers’ 25-8 win over Aynor, racking up 24 total tackles.
Co-defensive linemen: Josh Belk, Lewisville and Radarrius Wright, Chester- Belk made nine tackles, including one tackle-for-loss against Buford, while Wright recorded eight tackles and two sacks during the Cyclones’ win over Franklin Christian.
Special teams: Brandon Dickerson, Indian Land- kicker hit all five of his point-after attempts and hit one kickoff for a touchback.