Blue Eagles shift focus to Fort Mill

genegraham@comporium.netOctober 31, 2013 

— Seeking to win another game, members of the Clover High School football team say they are approaching Friday’s home game against Fort Mill with renewed confidence.

The Region 3-AAAA encounter will be at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

The Blue Eagles were beaten 42-0 by perennial powerhouse South Pointe last Friday. The Yellow Jackets beat Lancaster 28-15.

CHS head football coach Chad Smith said Fort Mill is a well-coached team. Coach Ed Susi “does a good job with the Fort Mill program,” Smith said. “We can match them talent-wise.”

The Yellow Jackets qualified for the class 4A playoffs last season, losing in the first round to eventual state champion Greenwood.

In Friday’s game against South Pointe, The Blue Eagles gave up four costly fumbles.

Clover out-rushed the Stallions, but were unable to contain the South Pointe’s air raid attack.

South Pointe would have been held to four touchdowns had it not been for Marveon Mobley’s 30-yard fumble return and Chris Smith’s 90-yard interception return.

Chase Galant gained 60 yards on 10 carries, averaging six yards per carry. Teammate Coby Hamblen was next, gaining 31 yards on nine carries.

The Stallions have gained elite status in recent years, winning two state championships in five years entering the 2013 season.

“South Pointe is a talented football team,” said Smith. “Their coaches do a good job. We didn’t play one of our better games, but South Pointe had a lot to do with that.”

CHS senior Scott Jackson, a three-year starter at the quarterback position, said he is locked in mentally for the Blue Eagles’ final two games.

“Our goal is to win both and to make the playoffs,” Jackson said before Monday’s practice. “The key to success is execution, being efficient at what we do.”

Jackson has embraced changes in the team’s offensive structure, making the necessary adjustments when the double wing-T supplanted the triple option.

“Making the transition wasn’t as difficult as you might would think,” he said.

Senior Owen Jefferies, who is active on both sides of the ball, said he feels good about Friday’s opportunity.

“We’re winding down the season with Fort Mill and York at home,” he said. “It’s special for the seniors.”

Though senior players often take on added responsibilities, Jefferies said it’s not so much about senior leadership at this stage of the season.

“The younger players have to accept responsibility,” he said. “They will have to become leaders next year.”

Key’shawn Pressley, a senior special teams player who hadn’t played football until this season, said he looks forward to Friday’s game.

“We feel good about the Fort Mill game,” he said. “I am glad I came out for the team. “I’ve learned a lot. It’s been a good experience.”

Smith said the number of high-caliber teams on the schedule has made it difficult for a breakthrough season his first year in Blue Eagle Country.

In addition to competing in the state’s strongest football region, he said, a brutal non-region schedule including highly-regarded opponents South Florence, Spring Valley and Boiling Springs stood in the way of sustained success.

“If we played the schedule we had my first year at Easley, we’d be 8-1,” said Smith.

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