Clinton is County Champion
Members of the 1972 State Champion Team applaud the 2022 Clinton Red Devils after a 35-14 1st half against Laurens (26 photos).
On a night when Clinton remembered football glory from 50 years ago, the 2022 Red Devils took care of business in a rush for a 55-28 cross-county rivalry win over Laurens. Austin Copeland set the stage for Clinton’s Friday win with a long TD run before dust (actually powder thrown into the air – LeBron James-style) from the Laurens crowd even settled, after Clinton accepted the kickoff.
By the time it was over, Clinton had run the ball for 491 yards, and Laurens had 6 yards on the ground. In fairness, Laurens threw the ball for 274 yards – to Clinton’s 51 yards through the air. But Clinton’s 42 plays went for 542 yards while Laurens’ 53 plays went for 280 yards. Clinton was penalized 9 times for 107 yards.
Clinton did not have a turnover while running the ball 39 times. Jishun Copeland (2), Bryson James (2), Jaden Robinson and Austin Copeland (1 each) scored for Clinton. Justin Copeland had a pick six to open Clinton’s scoring.
For the second consecutive week to start the season, Clinton set a new school record – last week it was for first downs in a 55-20 beat down of Batesburg-Leesville; this week it was Jishun Copeland’s 99-yard from scrimmage rushing touchdown, breaking Jykorie Gary’s recently set record.
Clinton Football Head Coach Corey Fountain said, “Awesome crowd tonight. I’ve never seen it more packed than it was tonight. It was electric and our guys fed off that. I think our coaches did a good job preparing our guys all week, the way practice went and how our guys practiced this week because you win your games Monday through Thursday. We were super aggressive like I like, we were physical; that’s the way we want to be remembered, we want to be a physical team each and every week We were a little too aggressive in the secondary at times, but at the end of the day, you know what we came out on top. A lot of credit to their team. They have a really explosive team, a lot of good receivers, a good quarterback.”
The game was a stark contrast to last year, a 21-19 Clinton win at Laurens’ KC Hanna Stadium. Clinton improves to 2-0, following last week’s win over Batesburg-Leesville; Laurens slips to 0-2 after leading Hillcrest but giving up 41 unanswered points in non-region action.
This coming Friday, Clinton travels to former region foe Newberry, and Laurens faces an always tough Belton-Honea Path team.
Clinton is the #5 ranked team in Class AAA.
Honored at halftime, the 1972 team under Hall of Fame Coach Keith Richardson came back to Clinton for a pre-game team meal, and the next day a gathering at Whiteford’s for WPCC’s Saturday Morning Rewind radio show. The broadcast crew will have special segments about the team throughout the season, and the game program has a special page about the 1972 Pride of Clinton team. The Voice of the Red Devils, Buddy Bridges, made sure to mention during halftime the team members who have passed away. The 1972 Championship was Clinton’s first in 33 years and the first of 7 won by the Red Devils since then. The 1972 team went 11-0-1 and defeated Hanahan of Charleston, 32-0, for the title in a contest played in Greenwood. Eight members of that team went on to play college football, and Kevin Long played for the New York Jets.
Part of Friday night’s festivities was the 1972 State Championship Trophy, placed into the custody of CHS Principal Dr. Martha Brothers. As she held the trophy secure while hitching a ride off the field in the rear of a golf cart, Dr. Brothers said, “I want another one of these!”