CLOVER — Clover High School students are like the adult fans in Blue Eagle Country. They believe their football team will return to the glory days. They also know there’s no quick fix.
Such was the case the case when students were filing into Memorial Stadium for Friday’s home opener against South Florence.
Students said they believe that new head coach Chad Smith has pumped new life into Blue Eagle football — and that it’s a matter of time before the program will “Soar like an Eagle.”
Smith’s first game as head coach of the Clover Blue Eagles did not go as planned, however. The Blue Eagles ran into the spread offense of South Florence in Clover, and the Bruins scored in every quarter to register a 40-6 win.
Despite the loss, Smith felt like he had some things that his young team could build on as the season progresses.
“Rome was not built in a day,” said Smith. “We did some things well, and that will give us something to work on.”
The Blue Eagles moved the ball well at times, he said, and finally scored in the fourth period, when Cody Payne scampered in from 6 yards out.
“I am real proud of our offense for getting a touchdown against their first team defense,” said Smith.
Many students who attended Friday’s game echoed Smith’s optimism.
Ella Segars, a freshman at Clover High, said she has felt the excitement about football at school. “There are a lot of posts on Twitter,” she said. “The students are talking Clover football.”
Junior Cody Boyte said he is excited.
“The students feel the change,” said Boyte. “They say they will be coming to the games. The players I talk to are more conscious Clover discussing football.”
Another junior, Jacob Gill, said he is receiving positive vibes from players. “I have friends on the football team,” he said. “There’s a new attitude this year. The students want to come to the games and I think the new coach is great.”
Clover High band drum major Mary MacInnis agreed. “We’re hearing good things about the players and coaches,” she said. “There’s a lot of excitement about the season.”
MacInnis said the football team is working hard and so is the band. “We put in a lot of work at band camp,” she said. “We have a great show and are excited about that.”
Ashton Nicholas, a senior cheerleader captain, said she has noticed a difference in the football team this season. “The players were pumped at school today,” she said Friday. “We’ve won most of our scrimmages. The cheerleaders are excited about the team.”
Ryan Troutman contributed to this report