Blue Eagles focus on fundamentals as region play begins

genegraham@comporium.netSeptember 24, 2013 

— After a week off, the Clover High School football team is ready for Region 3-AAAA play.

“We got healthier during the week off and devoted more time to the basic fundamentals of the game,” head coach Chad Smith said. Now, the focus shifts to Friday’s 7:30 p.m. region opener against Nation Ford at Memorial Stadium.

“It’s a new season,” Smith said. “Anything can happen in region play. Northwestern started the season 0-5 several years ago and ended up playing for the state championship. I’m not saying we will play for the state championship, but we have an opportunity to turn things around.”

Nation Ford has a 3-1 record for the season. Last week, the Falcons balanced the run and throw in a 31-28 come-from-behind win over Ridge View, rushing for 221 yards and gaining 233 yards through the air.

“Nation Ford is a strong and physical team,” Smith said. “You can tell they have hit the weight room. They like to throw the ball and use an odd and even defensive front.”

The Blue Eagles enter region play after pounding the Boiling Springs defense for 358 rushing yards on Sept. 13. Smith said avoiding the three turnovers in the Boiling Springs game might have spelled victory.

Senior quarterback Scott Jackson said the rushing totals against Boiling Springs was a confidence-builder for the offense.

“We’ve gotten better executing the offense each week,” Jackson said after Monday’s practice. “This needs to continue.”

Jackson said the key to success against Nation Ford is the right mindset. He added that the return of Ladarius Adams to Clover “really jump-starts the offense.”

Senior offensive lineman Owen Jefferies, who stand 6-foot, 1-inch and tips the scales at 260 pounds, said he has visions of good things happening for Clover Friday night. “Winning the first region game would be awesome,” said Jefferies. “If we move the football like we did against Boiling Springs, we will win.”

Junior Zach Conrad, who plays nose guard in the Blue Eagles’ defensive scheme, agreed. “Our goal is to be 1-0 in the region after Friday,” he said. “The key is to be mentally prepared, stay low and carry out our assignments.”

Smith said he learned in his first coaching job to focus on his team’s Friday night readiness.

“I want to make sure our team is ready to play,” he said. By that, he said, he means a heavy dose of the pound-it-out double-wing offensive scheme.

Having Adams back in the Blue Eagles’ lineup, running behind a vastly-improved offensive line, raises the CHS coach’s degree of optimism.

“L.A. is a difference-maker,” he said.

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