Raiders look to wipe out mistakes, run behind future USC line player
Clinton High varsity football will look to get back on the winning side against cross-county rival Laurens this Friday, in the first-ever, season-opening meeting between the rivals. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Wilder Stadium. Laurens won 35-6 last season at now-under-renovation KC Hanna Field in Laurens. Two Red Devils who have moved on to college football were instrumental in Clinton’s first and only score against the Raiders. Tay Cook’s long pass reception up against the home sideline put the Devils in position for a Donovan Blackmon run that staked Clinton to a 6-0 lead. It was all Raiders from then on. In 2016 pre-season play, the Raiders identified miscues as an area of continuing work as practice and scrimmages continued. Laurens lost 14-13 to host Woodruff in the Wolverine Showcase. A pre-season poll shows Woodruff the No. 4 team in the state in Class AAA. Laurens this season moves to the newly formed Class AAAAA. The Raiders had two blocked punts and a missed PAT against Woodruff. Laurens quarterback Nathan Rutter had a pass picked off at the Woodruff 5-yard-line with 12.5 seconds left to play in the scrimmage. Rutter put Laurens ahead with the scrimmage’s first touchdown, a 4-yard scoring run to cap a 90-yard drive. A Jalin Walker interception gave Laurens’ Troy Dendy the chance to score a go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter. Laurens missed the conversion and that opened the door for Woodruff to score the winning touchdown and PAT. Clinton defeated Blue Ridge, 24-7, in Wolverine Showcase action. Clinton plays host to Woodruff in region action Oct. 27 at Wilder Stadium. “These guys want to earn respect from our community and our opponents,” Clinton football head coach Andrew Webb said after his team’s 7-0 scrimmage win over Strom Thurmond. “If we are going to be champions we have to push ourselves.” Red Devil senior quarterback Charlie Craven, a three-year starter, has been the key on offense in the pre-season. He has connected with Aaron Copeland, a junior coming over from shortstop on the region champion baseball team, and Donte Reeder, senior multiple purpose player, for scoring passes. Webb said the Red Devils are deepest at running back with players returning and JV players with experience coming up. Tyreke Watts has anchored the defense up front, as the running backs from offense take their turns at linebacker on defense. After its season-opener against Clinton, Laurens has its next two games at home, Sept. 2 against AAA Chapman and Sept. 9 against AAAAA Irmo, both non-region games. Perhaps the Raiders’ two most important games - to qualify for the playoffs - also will be at home, Oct. 21 against Mauldin and Oct. 28 against Greenwood. Webb and Laurens football head coach Chris Liner will talk about their teams’ upcoming seasons Friday at the first 2016 meeting of the Laurens County Touchdown Club. Lunch meetings will be held every other Friday through football season at The Ridge, the City of Laurens’ new recreation complex on the Hwy 76 by-pass. Friday Night Football Carolinas ranks offensive lineman Summie Carlay of Laurens (6’5”, 280 lbs) as the No. 16, of 50 seniors, top college football prospect in the state. Carlay is committed next season to the University of South Carolina. Carlay and the rest of the offensive line will look to open holes of Dendy, a junior, and DQ Floyd, a senior running back. FNFC calls Dendy and Floyd “big talents in the backfield.” NOTES: Clinton JV football will play Laurens on Thursday, 6 p.m. in a game moved to Laurens Middle School on West Main Street. Following the high school schedule (home and away in reverse), the Red Devil JV will play host to Greer, Sept. 1, and Aiken, Sept. 8, at Wilder Stadium. Clinton varsity football’s Homecoming will be Oct. 7 against region opponent Mid-Carolina. The games will come after road contests (Sept. 23 at Chesnee and Sept. 30 at Chapman, region) and before an important region road contest, Oct. 14 at Newberry, defending AA Upper State champion.