Andrew Webb has a couple productive running backs, Mark Wise and Kris Holmes, to replace. He’s looking for depth in the offensive line and receiver corps. The themes recur, to some extent, each year when spring football practice gets underway at Clinton High School, or, for that matter, most anywhere else.
The drills began last week and will culminate with the spring game on May 18 at Wilder Stadium, beginning at 6 p.m.
Webb, Clinton born, bred and educated, enters his fourth season with a record of 13-21, two Class 3A playoff berths and a program trying to turn a corner. Last year ended in the first round of the playoffs, where Clinton (4-7) lost in a heartbreaker, 18-14, at Seneca.
“We’ve got a lot of competition at a lot of spots, which is really good for us,” he said.
The schedule remains challenging but has been considerably modified. In Region 3-3A, Union County and Emerald are the newcomers, Chapman and Broome the departures. The Red Devils will face the Centurions out of region and have added Powdersville, Wren and Pendleton before the region campaign commences on Sept. 28 in Union. Gone from the schedule are Chapman, Greer, Abbeville, Chesnee and Aiken.
Webb’s staff is mostly intact. Dillon Salmans is moving elsewhere. John Gardner is leaving his football post to concentrate on girls’ basketball and weight training.
The big change is the addition of Louie Alexander, who is joining the Clinton staff after resigning as head football coach and athletic director at Mid-Carolina.
“Coach Alexander is someone I have tremendous respect for and have gotten to know well over the past few years,” Webb said. “The timing just worked out really well for us. It’s great to have someone on the staff who brings such knowledge, energy and experience. Our philosophies are almost the same.
“The best thing about adding someone like him is in your meeting room. He’ll give you his opinion but certainly doesn’t act like he knows it all. It’s a testament to the kind of person Louie is.”
As for the young men who actually put on the helmets, Webb said, “We have depth at quarterback (in Konnor Richardson and Cameron Nichols). We have a slew of running backs we feel can help us. Elijah Campbell is one of our few returners in the wide receivers group. We have some tight ends we feel can step right up.”
In Powdersville and Pendleton, the Red Devils have two opponents they have never played, and Wren last played Clinton in the early 1990s.
For the third year in a row, the season will begin against rival Laurens. The Raiders, who won last year’s county championship by a score of 24-18, will visit Wilder Stadium on Aug. 24.
“Beginning the season with Laurens has been really fun,” Webb said. “It’s been a good atmosphere, and we’ve played two really good ballgames.”
Webb is trying to raise money to help fund a visit by motivational speaker Jason Kuhn at May 31. The ex-Navy SEAL “meets, teaches and trains sports teams about mental toughness, leadership and teamwork,” in Webb’s words.
The fourth-year Clinton head coach is raising money to pay for Kuhn’s visit. Those interested in helping can call Webb at (864) 938-1983.