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With a lack of numbers and varsity game experience impacting the Clover High School football team’s 0-4 start to the 2012 season, the Blue Eagles refuse to buckle.
Monday afternoon’s practice in no way resembled a winless team searching for answers.
Blue Eagle players were upbeat, attentive, responsive and eager to learn. There was no bickering, no laying blame. Driven by a hunger for success, the players embrace the challenge of the next game.
“Our kids have a great attitude,” head coach John Devine said after practice. “There’s no finger-pointing. They come to practice ready go.”
“We’re taking small steps to get the program back where it needs to be,” Devine said. “You go with the cards you are dealt. We’re looking for week-by-week improvement.”
One thing the Blue Eagles didn’t need in a 51-0 loss at Boiling Springs last Friday was another key player going down with an injury; but that is what happened when talented running back CJ Woods left the game in the fourth quarter.
“CJ broke his leg and will be out for the season,” Devine said of the Blue Eagles’ latest misfortune. “He is a senior who provided on-the-field leadership and words of encouragement to his teammates.
“It hurts him that he won’t be able to finish the season.”
Another impact player, senior Aaron Felder, is still on crutches from an injury sustained early in the season.
Devine and the CHS trainers are hopeful Felder’s cast will be removed in the weeks to come, after which it will be a wait-and-see situation.
CHS trainer Kim Bressler said that with the exception of Woods and Felder, the Blue Eagles have escaped serious injury this season.
“We’ve had the usual sprains, bumps and bruises that you expect during football season,” Bressler said.
With Woods out for the season and Felder out indefinitely, junior running back Ladarius Adams appears more than capable of carrying the offensive load.
Adams churned out 96 yards on 17 carries against a formidable Boiling Springs team, which advanced to the 4A upper state championship game last season.
“Ladarius came within an eyelash of breaking a couple runs against Boiling Springs,” said Devine. “He does a good job for us.”
Devine said the team’s offensive output was vastly improved from the week before.
“We tightened down the splints in the Boiling Springs game,” he said. “It helped our offensive linemen.”
Adams said the Blue Eagle offensive line paved the way to gaining nearly 100 yards against the Bulldogs.
“I’m more comfortable running the ball with the offensive scheme built around the triple option,” he said.
Asked if it felt good gaining 96 yards rushing for his teammates, Adams replied, “No.”
“We lost the game. Had we won the game, I would’ve felt good about the yardage I gained,” he said.
With the season shifting to an open date week, followed by a trip to emerging region foe Nation Ford, Devine said senior leadership is vital.
“Treant Hartis and Shantarius Brown are among the seniors assuming leadership roles,” he said.
Hartis is a 6-1, 195-pound offensive lineman/linebacker. Brown is a 6-1 receiver/linebacker who tips the scales at 175.
Devine said the extra week of practice is an ideal time to re-evaluate personnel.
“It’s an opportunity for the players to compete for a position, to earn more playing time,” he said.