The trappings of major-college football are quite the rush for high school kids who dream of competing one day in the rarefied air of the sport.
On Friday, Clinton High was one of 36 teams taking part in a seven-on-seven tournament hosted by the University of South Carolina. The Red Devils played a game in Williams-Brice Stadium and others at the Gamecocks’ indoor and outdoor practice facilities.
“It’s really cool to get our guys a chance to play in that environment,” head coach Andrew Webb said Saturday. “We did all right. We didn’t make the championship bracket, which we managed to do one time a few years ago, but we played really good competition. We had some really young guys step up who we’re going to be counting on. Our kids played hard and continued to encourage one another throughout the day. USC does a good of filming all the games, and that gives us a chance to come back home and analyze what we did and how we can improve.”
On Tuesday, the Red Devils will host Laurens District High School, Emerald, Woodruff and Daniel on their home fields, beginning at 10 a.m. The following Tuesday, June 26, a similar series of competitions will take place at LDHS, also at 10. The composition is similar, though other teams such as Union County and Ninety Six are on hand for some of the them.
Clinton has already participated in four seven-on-seven competitions, which feature throwing and catching and are valuable for quarterbacks, receivers and pass defenders.
Webb singled out several players, including quarterback Konnor Richardson.
“You can see a lot of ways Konnor has gotten better, last year to this year,” Webb said. “He’s gained the confidence of getting the ball out efficiently and knowing where to get it to. He’s done really well this summer.”
The Red Devils are making optimum use of their two-hour daily practice time. Rising freshmen through seniors are working out on Monday through Thursday. Webb said the team will take a break for the Fourth of July week.
“Some young guys are fighting for some spots in our secondary,” Webb said. “Kendrick McMorris is one who has gotten off to a really good start this summer. I’m most proud of how he has handled his assignments mentally. We’re counting on Jaylin Wyatt, who has done a good job leading. He’s a rising senior and he’s leading the right way and setting a good example for his teammates.
“Elijah Campbell is doing a good job. We’re counting on him to play both offense and defense, and he’s rising to that challenge.”
Though the seven-on-seven competitions are useful for specialized skills, Webb has all his athletes out for work in the weight room, speed work, conditioning and non-contact practices. Rising seventh and eighth graders come over to CHS two days a week for practice sessions.
“I’m very pleased with our numbers, top to bottom,” Webb said.