Protecting the house - do it this Friday and Red Devils win their way to playoffs

 

Remember that Under Armour ad from a few years back, “We Must Protect This House”? That’s Clinton football’s Job One this Friday night.

The Red Devils’ opponent, Woodruff, did that two Fridays ago. They did not do that playing against Clinton last season.

Woodruff erupted from two close games for a 56-7 victory over winless Mid-Carolina at W.L. Varner Stadium in the Wolverines last game. The victory made Woodruff 6-3 on the season.

In non-region action in 2015, Clinton surprised Woodruff, 32-13, at W.L. Varner Stadium. It was a low point in an otherwise stellar, 10-2 season for Woodruff.

In last season’s game, Donovan Blackmon scored second, third and fourth quarter touchdowns. Blackmon signed to play for the 8-1 Newberry College Wolves, but Clinton defender Sincere Hunt, who had a big interception against Woodruff last season, is back for his senior campaign.

Clinton football head coach Andrew Webb said at the time, “The interception at the end of the first half was a big stop, a great play by Sincere Hunt. That kept it a one-point game (13-12 Clinton leading) rather than seven.” Then, Clinton went on to dominate the second half.

Protecting the house - it’s important to the Red Devils for a reason other than just pride. It’s the last game of the regular season, and for Clinton, before Friday’s games, it looked like “win and you’re in.”

The Red Devils sit at 2-2 in region play - 3-2 certainly would make the playoffs. Then, Chapman defeated Broome, 33-7, and that punched Clinton’s ticket to the playoffs. Where the Devils will be seeded is a little more complicated. If Clinton wins and holds Woodruff to 22 points or less, the Red Devils will finish second in the region. That means playing host to Camden. If Clinton wins and Woodruff scores 23 points or more, the Red Devils will finish third and would travel to Chester. If Clinton loses, the Red Devils will travel to Fairfield Central in Winnsboro, as the fourth place team. 

Newberry, Chapman and Woodruff all have a chance at finishing region play ahead of Clinton in the newly re-aligned Region 3, Class 3A. The Red Devils and Wolverines are ending their seasons this Friday (rather than Oct. 29) because the AAA state playoffs will not start until Nov. 18.

Hurricane Matthew caused major problems for schools in the Lowcountry, and games had to be rescheduled to get the regular season completed.

Rather than finish the season and wait two weeks to be in the playoffs, Clinton and Woodruff opted for a pre-Halloween bye week.

Webb said after Clinton’s home win against Broome that senior defender Rakevis Brown could be cleared to play against Woodruff. An injury has kept him on the sidelines since the opening week.

Senior running back Kris Holmes left the Broome game early having re-aggravated a leg injury, so the rest helped him, also. Last season, Holmes scored a fourth quarter touchdown against Woodruff, followed by a Tay Cook from Charlie Craven two-point conversion pass.

For Woodruff, sophomore quarterback Keegan Halloran is running an offense that scored seven rushing touchdowns against Mid-Carolina two weeks ago. In last season’s game, Halloran came into action in a reserve role, and the Red Devil defense did a god job holding him in check. With another season’s experience, the elusive Halloran manages an offensive with explosive ability.

Against Mid-Carolina, he went 5-for-5 on screen passes to rack up 70 yards and give five different receivers a catch apiece. The sixth play was a touchdown run by Jarius Thompson.

The Wolverines pooch-kicked and got the ball back. This time, a Halloran to Keith Pearson pass covered 21 yards and Thompson took the ball in from 18 yards out. Woodruff scored twice, within the span of 29 seconds.

The Red Devils might want to consider playing their “hands team” on every Woodruff kickoff.

 

(The Clinton-Woodruff game kicks off Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Wilder Stadium. It will be Senior Night for the Red Devils, with football, volleyball, girls tennis and cross-country, athletic trainers, cheerleading and marching band seniors, and their parents, being honored in the pre-game.)

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