The annual football game between Laurens County rivals Laurens and Clinton is bigger than it has been in a while.
The Raiders and Red Devils have not regained their onetime status among the state’s best, but promise abounds in both camp and den.
Clinton (1-0) has no one as fast as Laurens’ Jayden McGowan, but most of those who touch the ball for the Red Devils are burners whose flames are only slightly less bright.
The Red Devils’ incentive is to reverse the trend of a series they have historically dominated but not so much in the memories of current players. Laurens (0-1) has won 7 of the past 8 and 3 in a row versus Clinton. The Red Devil faithful will probably fill the visitors’ side of K.C. Hanna Stadium shortly after the gates open. The home side won’t fill as quickly – there are more seats – but it will fill.
I have long gotten over my inbred distaste for Laurens. Men like Daryl Smith, Tommy Spires, Chris Liner, Bobby Ivey and, eternally, King Dixon, have a lot to do with it. Heck, it doesn’t even matter to me where the Chamber of Commerce is located. That’s how tolerant I’ve become.
A Laurens lineman who now wears my onetime Clinton number assured me recently that he despises the Red Devils, and I replied, “As well you should. I would think less of you if you didn’t.”
I have mellowed, but I have not forgotten my roots. The Raiders are friends. The Red Devils are family.
My impression of watching them on their respective practice fields is that both are good teams.
Laurens needs a victory in the micro, and Clinton needs one in the macro. Laurens yearns the reward of a victory as it wades into a tough schedule. Clinton wants to regain what it perceives to be its birthright. Each stands in the other’s way.
As God intended.