The 2017 prep football season is underway, and for the county’s three area teams the question is how will they use this week’s game to either maintain their momentum, or turn things around.
Laurens hits the road this week when it takes on defending Class 3A champion Chapman, while Clinton welcomes Greer to town for its home opener. As for Laurens Academy, its difficult start to the season continues when it comes home to take on Wardlaw.
On the college scene Presbyterian also gets into the act as it starts the 2017 season Thursday night with a road trip to ACC foe Wake Forest for its only game against a Power Five conference team this year.
Here is a look at this week’s games:
Presbyterian at Wake Forest, 6:30 p.m., Winston-Salem, N.C.: The Blue Hose open the official first week of the college football season with a Thursday night contest against the Demon Deacons of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The last time these two teams played came in 2010, when Wake Forest picked up a 53-13 victory. In that game, however, Presbyterian had an ESPN-worthy highlight when then-quarterback Brandon Miley threw a backward, bouncing pass to Derrick Overholt, who picked it up and later fired a 68-yard touchdown pass to teammate Mike Ruff.
Wake Forest enters off a 7-6 season last year, including a victory over Temple in the Military Bowl. Tight end Cam Serigne, a redshirt senior, was the team’s lone selection to the All-ACC preseason team. The team was picked to finish fifth in the ACC Atlantic Division preseason rankings, behind Florida State, Clemson, Louisville and N.C. State.
Laurens Academy (0-1) vs. Wardlaw (1-0), 7:30 p.m., at Kirk Field: Laurens Academy comes home to take on longtime rival Wardlaw after opening the season against Holly Hill, losing 58-20. Wardlaw won its opener against Richard Winn, 44-13.
The defending state champions, as LA head coach Todd Kirk noted, will probably be the best team his squad plays this year. Wardlaw is a fundamentally sound unit that will force the Crusaders to have to play very well to be competitive, Kirk said.
Note: The LA-Wardlaw game was originally scheduled for Friday, but was moved to Thursday due to the forecast of heavy rains in the area.
Laurens (1-0) at Chapman (2-0), 7:30 p.m.: The Raiders took care of their intra-county rivals from Clinton for the fifth time in six seasons Friday, pulling away to a 24-18 victory. But the road doesn’t get any easier for the Raiders as they travel for the first time this season, taking on the No. 1-ranked and defending Class 3A champion Chapman Panthers.
Colton Bailey had himself a heck of a day against Seneca last week, accounting for eight touchdowns – six of which came on passes. Bailey also threw for 341 yards, and took full advantage of wide receivers Richard Tucker (eight catches, 168 yards, three TDs) and Patrick Phongsat (seven catches, 135 yards, two TDs).
Clinton (0-1) vs. Greer (1-1), 7:30 p.m., at Wilder Stadium: Greer, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A entering last week, will be licking its wounds as it comes off a 42-7 blowout loss to Class 5A’s Byrnes. Running back Dre Williams will be looking for a bounce-back game against Clinton. After running for 140 yards against Westside in the team’s Week 0 victory, Williams was limited to 45 yards on 12 carries.
Clinton went back to its grind-it-out traditional offense against Laurens, and made the passing game an element of surprise, hitting on two touchdown passes from Konnor Richardson. The Red Devils were held to 87 yards of offense on three series in the second half. That came after picking up 88 yards on the team’s first series of the game.