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In the first two weeks of this abbreviated football season, the Clinton Red Devils have won a close one and lost a close one. They have blocked a field goal in overtime and had one blocked at the end of regulation.

Now the challenge is the third-ranked Chapman Panthers (2-0), who have won 49 of their last 51 games and captured the state Class 3A championship last year. Friday night in Inman marks Clinton’s first road game.

“They are a fine and balanced football team,” Clinton head coach Corey Fountain said. “Chapman has a prolific offense and great defense and special teams. On offense, they are good at the vertical passing game, but they are also productive with the running games and screen passes. They’re a really good team and a challenge, for sure. They’re hitting on all cylinders.”

Chapman has a new head coach, Harry Cabaniss, and a new quarterback, Drew Settle, who threw for over 1,000 yards backing up Mikele Colasurdo last year. So far, the Panthers haven’t skipped a beat. After opening with a 45-14 victory at home against Woodruff, the Panthers similarly routed Emerald on the road, 49-14.

In order to compete, Clinton (1-1) must use its potent running game to good advantage. Injured quarterback Davis Wilson, who hasn’t played thus far, could be back. Jykorie Gary is coming off a game in which he rushed for 180 yards, one of which was a 97-yard touchdown.

To keep playoff hopes alive, this is a must-win for the Red Devils. Woodruff knocked off Union County, 28-26, last week, leaving something of a scramble in place behind Chapman. An upset would make that scramble full-blown.

“The more we can sustain drives, the better we’ll be,” Fountain said.

Chapman High School is located in Inman at 1420 Compton Bridge Rd.