By Gene Graham
CLOVER When Clover cornerback Xavier Wright picked off a Chapman pass and returned the pigskin 60-plus yards for a touchdown last week, his teammates leaped for joy along the sideline.
It was excitement galore in Thursday’s preseason scrimmage, a scene depicting a Blue Eagle team on the rise.
And when senior running back Ladarius Adams outran the coverage for a 55-yard touchdown jaunt out of the double wing alignment, it was more of the same.
With the regular season opener against South Florence slated for a week from Friday, the Clover High School football team is approaching the preseason like a bunch of eager-beavers building a dam.
While CHS head coach Chad Smith said there’s work to be done to reach the mountain top, he is holding to the belief that the Blue Eagles will open the flood gates to the land of opportunity sooner than later.
Smith likes what he has seen in the team’s mindset in scrimmages against Chapman last Thursday and Kings Mountain Saturday.
“We were more physical than our opponent in both scrimmages; that’s important to us,” Smith said.
The self-driven Clover head coach lauded the Blue Eagle players for their commitment and enthusiasm in the preseason.
“We were 10 to one better against Kings Mountain than we were in the Chapman scrimmage,” said Smith. “If we keep showing improvement, we’ll get to where we want to be.”
Blue Eagle players interviewed the day of the home Chapman scrimmage spoke in positive tones about the team’s confidence level.
Wright, a sophomore playing with field presence beyond his years, talked about the interception return in the early stages of the first scrimmage. “It felt good,” Wright said of reaching the end zone after the timely interception. “Everybody was cheering, players and fans.”
Interceptions don’t just happen. Wright said it’s all about anticipation. “I read the play from my cornerback position,” the confident sophomore said of his defensive gem.
Adams shared his thoughts about the crowd-pleasing touchdown run from scrimmage. “I think it’s what we needed at the time,” Adams said. “I wanted to do something to pick my teammates up.”
Adams, who is no stranger to the double-wing offensive scheme, said the offense is making progress amid preseason preparations. He also likes the rabid support base in Blue Eagle Country.
“We have great support this season,” commented Adams.
He added: “With this being my final season, I have become a senior leader for the younger players on the team.”
Scott Jackson, a bundle of talent and energy for the Blue Eagle team, knows a lot about the quarterback position, regardless of the offensive concept. The third-year quarterback has been around the block and knows how to adapt to the offensive scheme of the coaches in charge.
Last year, it was the triple option and Jackson gave it his best shot in a season of uncertainty.
This season, it’s back to a variation of the wing-T (double-wing), an iconic offensive scheme in Blue Eagle football lore.
“Our offense is looking good,” said Jackson.
The slick senior signal-caller said he feels good about the coming season, echoing the confident mindset of his teammates.
“There’s so much enthusiasm,” said Jackson. “Everybody’s behind us. We’re looking forward to the first game. We can’t wait.”
The final tune-up for the opening of the 2013 high school football season is slated for Friday, with the Blue Eagles competing in Gaston County’s FCA Football Jamboree hosted by Hunter Huss this season.
The invent includes four scrimmages at one-hour intervals. Admission is $6.
Clover will get things started in a matchup against North Gaston at 6 p.m. at the Hunter Huss football stadium.
Ashbrook takes on Providence Day in the 7 p.m. scrimmage. Forestview and Charlotte Christian will tangle at 8 p.m., with host Hunter Huss to face Mallard Creek in the nightcap at 9 p.m.
The Blue Eagles’ Aug. 23 season opener against South Florence will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Clover’s Memorial Stadium.
Clover remains at home the following week, hosting Forestview at 7:30 p.m. before making the trek to Spring Valley in Columbia Sept. 6.
The Blue Eagles host Boiling Springs Sept. 13 before opening Region 3-AAAA play against the Rock Hill Bearcats at District 3 Stadium.
All games have 7:30 p.m. starts.