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Life begins anew for the Clover High School football team Friday night.
Having met the grinding demands of the offseason and preseason, it's time to face live bullets, a cliche head coach John Devine often uses to capture new season excitement.
The Blue Eagles open the 2012 season Friday at home, with South Florence providing the opposition.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. in storied Memorial Stadium.
“We've watched film of South Florence football,” Devine said of first-game preparations. “They are very athletic and play kids on both sides of the ball like we do.”
Devine said South Florence will line up in a four-man front on the defensive side of the ball, utilizing a 4-4 and 4-3 look.
“They run a form of the spread offense like so many teams do,” he said. “It's nothing unusual, nothing we haven't seen.
“We will need to pressure the quarterback.”
South Florence plays in a region with teams Blue Eagle fans are familiar with, among them perennial power Marlboro County, Hartsville, Sumter, Camden and Wilson.
“They are a good football team and will present a challenge,” assured the CHS coach. “But our kids are ready to play a football game.
“They are excited about the season opener.”
Added Devine, “The kids have worked hard in the offseason and preseason and want to start the season on the right foot.”
He is looking for the senior team members to assume a leadership role during the coming season.
“From day one, we've asked our seniors to set the pace in the weight room, the locker room and at practice,” noted Devine. “They have to step up and set the tone.”
The final week of practice is a time for fine-tuning offensive and defensive schemes.
“We're polishing up this week,” Devine said of final game preparations for Friday's much-anticipated opener. “There's much emphasis on the offensive line coming off the ball and making sure everybody's on the same page, settling in.”
Devine said the Blue Eagles are building depth in an effort to reduce the number of starters having to play offense and defense.
“We need a lot of players contributing,” he added. “We want to keep players fresh.”
Above all, Devine said moving the ball on offense is the key to a successful season.
“We had a hard time keeping the defense off the field last season,” observed the head coach. “The kids need to know what to do and how to do it.
“We've got to move the chains.”
Junior quarterback Scott Jackson and senior running back Aaron Felder will have a lot to do with moving the chains.
“We're more familiar with the offensive scheme this year,” said Jackson, who has become more adept at executing the triple option.
There's something about the season opener that generates excitement among the players, coaches and fans.
Devine pretty much summed up the anticipation of a new season: “It's time to put the ball on the tee and blow the whistle.”
Following Friday's home opener against South Florence, the Blue Eagles travel across the border to battle Forestview, with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Gaston County school.
The next home game will be Aug. 31 at Memorial Stadium, with Spring Valley providing the opposition.