Laurens County is chock full of football Friday night. The lights of K.C. Hanna, R.P. Wilder and Todd Kirk will all be shining as Laurens celebrates Homecoming with a cupcake from J.L. Mann, Clinton takes a shot at an upset of longtime rival Newberry and Laurens Academy tries to end a losing streak against Jefferson Davis Academy.
J.L. Mann (0-7, 0-4 Region 1-5A) at Laurens (5-1, 4-0): The Patriots are winless this year, but that’s not the half of it. In fact, it’s the third of it. Mann has fallen 21 consecutive times without being able to get up. It was September 22, 2017, when last a standard was raised in victory.
Raider head coach Chris Liner is undoubtedly concerned about his Raiders looking past the Patriots to another home game next week against T.L. Hanna that will likely determine the region title. A championship team needs to make progress every step along the way, but LDHS could probably beat Mann barefooted, not that it would try. The matchup is notably lopsided.
Laurens has not burst into the state 5A rankings yet, but MaxPreps now ranks them 27th in the state overall and 15th in the top classification. This week may get the Raiders officially ranked. LDHS has scored 138 more points and given up 175 fewer than the Patriots, who fell, 49-10, to a Westside squad the Raiders defeated, 20-17, a week earlier. Mann has already fallen, 51-0, to Woodmont and 55-13 to Hanna.
To date, the Raiders have run the ball 297 times and averaged 5.9 yards for each carry. Five backs – quarterback Ryan Campbell (440), Duane Martin (338), Jeremiah Fuller (247), Zy Todd (216) and Jordan Woodruff (207) – have surpassed 200.
Campbell has passed for 304 yards, and the wide-out who caught the game-winner at Woodmont, Dee Foster, has hauled in 14 of his 23 completions. Foster has also completed a pass that went for 53 yards.
Liner’s staff grades defensive statistics by something called production points. Martin has 106 of them, along with 23 solo tackles and 16 assists. Mark McGowan is next with 102 points, 22 solo tackles and 13 assists.
Newberry (4-3, 1-1 Region 3-3A) at Clinton (3-4, 1-1): Phil Strickland’s Bulldogs have only scored 10 more points than the Red Devils this year, but they have allowed 60 fewer. Both teams are 1-1 in region play, but there is no other valid means of comparison. Clinton’s region games have been against Union County and Mid-Carolina. Newberry’s played Woodruff and Emerald.
Corey Fountain’s first Clinton team has exceeded its wins of a year ago, and the principal goal all along has been merely to get better. The Red Devils are now talking playoffs.
In a 35-21 victory at Mid-Carolina last week, Clinton rushed for 308 yards, led by Shyquan Kinard’s 127. The Red Devils trailed, 13-0, after a quarter but responded with five touchdowns before the Rebels scored again late in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided.
Kimon Quarles scored three touchdowns at Mid-Carolina.
Jefferson Davis (4-3, 2-2 SCISA 8-man Region 2) at Laurens Academy (2-4, 1-3): After a 2-1 start, the Crusaders have fallen three weeks in a row. Eight-man football is a chamber of horrors for defenses, and LA’s numbers have been gaudy though the record is not.
Junior quarterback Thomas Lowry has already passed for 1,226 yards, completing 66.4 percent of his 131 attempts. He’s thrown 16 touchdowns and been intercepted twice. He’s made 28 tackles, third only to Cal Robertson, who’s been credited with 45, and Diamonte Grant, with 31. He’s made as many interceptions as he’s thrown.
The Raiders are as happy to run as the Crusaders are to pass. Seth Davis has rushed for 104.3 yards per game.
Comparative scores suggest a close, high-scoring contest. LA defeated King, 50-6, which JDA pounded 54-6. Winn defeated the Crusaders, 52-20, and the Raiders, 65-28.