RED DEVILS THIS FRIDAY: Win and we're in, and likely will play at Seneca
BROOME WINS 35-19. Mid-Carolina beats Woodruff, 38-9, Clinton at Woodruff this Friday for final spot in playoffs - a trip to Seneca is likely for the Devils with a victory. -- Newberry tunes up for game of the year with a 49-21 victory playing at Clinton
The Newberry Bulldogs’ tune-up for its game TONIGHT against defending state champion Chapman was a 49-21 win last Friday on Clinton’s home turf, Richardson Field at Wilder Stadium.
The Bulldog win spoiled Senior Night for 24 Red Devil football seniors. Senior cheerleaders and band members also were introduced in a pre-game ceremony. Seniors for girls tennis, volleyball and cross-country were recognized at those sports’ final home contests.
Newberry and Chapman will be battling in the 2017 Game of the Year for the Region 3 AAA regular season championship. Chapman defeated Newberry in the 2016 Upper State Championship game, then won the state title over Dillon. Broome is right there at the top of Region 3, and the Centurions, 6-2 overall, are this Friday’s opponent for 3-5 Clinton.
"(This) week's going to be a really, really big football game for us," Clinton football head coach Andrew Webb said, in Clinton-Newberry post-game comments. "We got to continue to get better. We got to get better tackling on defense. We got to get better blocking up front on offense. We got to find a way to win a big, big football game (this) week.”
Broome defeated injury-plagued Woodruff, 21-14, Friday. The Centurions took a 14-0 halftime lead and answered a Woodruff fumble scoop-and-score TD with a 99-yard scoring return of the ensuing kickoff.
Newberry had a similar return - the second half kickoff - against Clinton. That put the Bulldogs up 35-6 with virtually the whole second half left to play - the Red Devils got a Mark Wise TD reception from Konnor Richardson in the first half.
Newberry scored a touchdown pass late in the game for the final margin of victory. Red Devil senior Kris Holmes - 101 yards rushing for the game - scored Clinton's third TD as the fourth quarter began. Holmes ran in a third quarter touchdown, and Wise ran in the 2-point conversion.
CHS Athletics expressed its appreciation to 24 Red Devil football seniors. "They're just deep down good dudes," Webb said. "It's fun to coach them, They do their best to do the things we ask them to. They get the FLEX Time when they've got to get help with their grades. They're a fun group to coach because they're just good dudes."
Last season, the Broome game kept Clinton’s aim of making the playoffs on track, after a 28-21 win at Wilder Stadium in dramatic fashion.
Both Broome and Clinton watched to run, but throwing turned out to be the Red Devils’ most dramatic play. Going down in CHS football lore as Koko’s Catch, running back Koko Rickey grabbed a batted ball out of mid-air and went 66 yards to the house in a dramatic Clinton second quarter score.
Senior quarterback Charlie Craven scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:17 left on the game clock on a play the coaches didn’t call. “We were on the half yard line,” the senior quarterback said. “I took it myself.”
That “did it myself” attitude came from three seasons for the Red Devil offense under center for Craven, who played with his grandfather Norman Craven’s name stitched on his uniform above his heart. “The offensive line blocked great,” Craven said. “We just kept pounding them, right and left. The backs blocked great, we just battled through adversity.”
On Veterans Night 2016, when the Red Devils wore red-camo jerseys with the names of veterans or military words of commitment stitched onto nameplates, Webb knew his players were inspired.
He said, “They knew tonight they had a little more to play for.”
The game-winning score by Craven was set up by a call Webb did not want to make. Late in the game, the Red Devils drove into Broome territory, but mistakes pushed them back. Faced with fourth and 15 at the 50, Webb decided to punt with the game clock at just over 7 minutes. The move put the pressure to get the ball back squarely on the Clinton defense. They did it. “That defensive stop,” Webb said. “I did not want to punt (and give Broome the chance to run out the clock with a 21-20 lead). That was a heck of a stop. That was the defensive stand of the year.”
If you’re going ... Broome High School is east of Spartanburg. From Clinton High, take I-26 toward Spartanburg, merge onto US 29-N, Exit 21B toward downtown Spartanburg (Dorman High School exit), turn left onto W St. John St., slight left onto East Main/US 29, turn right onto Cherry Hill Road. Broome High School at 381 Cherry Hill Road is on the left. Trip is just over 43 miles, and takes about 50 minutes, one way.