CLOVER — With a nickname like L.A., Ladarius Adams needs to be good.
In his first game of the season Friday night, Adams was certainly that for the Clover Blue Eagles, rushing for more than 200 yards on 20 carries and reaching the end zone twice. The still winless Blue Eagles fell 48-21 to Boiling Springs, but it was their highest point total of the campaign and most encouraging effort yet under new coach Chad Smith. Adams, the senior who missed the first three games of the season with a concussion, was a big reason why.
“Against some of the teams we played earlier in the season, we don’t only score six points if Ladarius is in the game,” Smith said. “Not only does he bring something blocking and running, but I think our other kids really feed off of him.”
Adams had runs of 52 and 35 yards, the longest runs of the season for Clover thus far. A mix of speed and power, Adams’ best athletic trait might be his field vision.
“He’s a very talented runner. He sees stuff well,” Smith said Wednesday. “He’s a great blocker too.”
Smith maintained that more important than Adams’ running is his confidence, which seems to translate to his teammates.
“Ladarius is probably our team leader and Ladarius makes things happen when he’s on the field, whether he’s blocking, tackling, thinking, whatever it is, he goes as hard as he can.”
Adams suffered a concussion during a scrimmage against North Gaston the week before the regular season commenced. By the time the Blue Eagles faced state-ranked Spring Valley in Week Two, they were down seven injured starters, Adams included. Several of those players returned last week, and all of them should be ready to go next week in the Region 3 opener against Nation Ford, thanks to a well-timed bye week.
“As long as nothing stupid happens in practice, we’ll be healthy going into Nation Ford,” Smith said. “To be 100 percent healthy going into conference, which we haven’t been all year, is huge.”
Still rutted in a 22-game losing streak, the Blue Eagles can draw from the strength of their opening four opponents, who are a combined 12-2, and from the bottomless belief of their first-year head coach.
“Honestly, I don’t know of a dang 0-4 team that would be as good as us right now,” Smith said, his L.A.-inspired confidence shining through.