CLOVER — After a fourth-quarter rally by Clover’s Blue Eagle football, the team fell short last week in a 21-14 loss to the Rock Hill Bearcats.
The team shifts its focus to Friday’s match against No. 1 ranked Northwestern.
The Blue Eagles will square off against a Trojan team that is ranked No. 8 nationally at Rock Hill’s District Three Stadium, with the opening kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
CHS head football coach Chad Smith is aware of Northwestern’s elite status and rich football tradition. “Northwestern is phenomenal,” Smith said. “They have the pieces in place everywhere.”
But he said the Blue Eagles will prepare like they always do. “We’ve got to be prepared to play on Friday night, regardless of the opponent,” he said.
Smith stressed when the season began: “We will do what we do best.” That means the double wing-T power game in huge dosages.
Northwestern did what it does best in a 27-0 shellacking of perennial region contender South Pointe last week. The Blue Eagles had success last week against Rock Hill in the first quarter, running 16 plays, but lost two fumbles.
Taking advantage of multiple turnovers by Clover, the Bearcats had the upper hand until the Blue Eagles dotted the scoreboard on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Ladarius Adams with 4:19 remaining in the game.
Clover recovered placekicker Adam Edmunds’ well-executed onside kick and found the end zone again in the final minute on a 1-yard run by Zach Conrad.
“We practice the onside kick a lot,” said Edmunds, who succeeded his older brother, Evan, as the Blue Eagles’ placekicker. “You need a lucky bounce and that’s what happened. We executed the onside kick and recovered the fumble.”
Smith lauded the senior placekicker’s commitment. “Adam’s the first kicker I’ve had that buys into the way do things,” Smith said. “He will do whatever it takes to help the team. We came close to recovering his second onside kick.”
Conrad said he was pumped up after scoring Clover’s second touchdown. “It felt great scoring the touchdown,” the junior fullback said. “It gave the team and me a lift.”
Conrad said the Blue Eagles are getting close to a win.
“The opportunity was there in the Rock Hill game,” he said. “We need to play the first half like we do in the second half.”
Senior mainstay Chase Galant, who contributes to the Blue Eagle cause on both sides of the ball, had a key third-quarter interception that gave Clover a scoring opportunity.
“Making the interception was big at that stage of the game,” said Galant. “It helps our offense when the defense makes a play. We need to eliminate turnovers and get the offense going.”
While disappointed that the turnover erased potential scoring opportunities, Smith lauded the Blue Eagles for rallying late in the game.
“The kids fought back,” Smith said. “Sometimes it appears our kids find out they can be successful against the team we are playing when it gets into the second half. We have to be mentally prepared in the first half.”