DSCN2154.JPG

Clinton High School’s football team can’t control the fact that its Friday-night opponent, Daniel, is the reigning Class 3A champion. The Red Devils can’t control that Daniel is 11-0, or that quarterback Trent Pearman is one of the state’s best, or that he’s thrown for 33 touchdowns and been intercepted only 5 times.

The Red Devils can only control themselves.

DSCN2069 (2).JPG

Corey Fountain

“Last week, at the beginning, Lower Richland hit us in the mouth,” head coach Corey Fountain said. “We weathered the storm because they believed in themselves, they believed in the process and they believed in their coaches.

“Big games like this (Daniel) come down to big moments, and we hope to rise to the occasion.”

Could Clinton (11-1) have beaten Daniel in the 1st game of the season? Probably not. The Red Devils have risen to the aforementioned occasion week after week, building momentum, confidence, execution and the occasional moments of magic, such as the memorable fake punt that busted open last week’s 48-34 victory in Hopkins. Even the loss (to Chapman, 27-26) was heroic.

DSCN2185.JPG

Jykorie Gary (3)

One strong point of this Clinton team is pass defense. Daniel is the sternest test to date.

Pearman is the son of Clemson’s football scouting director. Clay Swinney is the son of Clemson’s head coach. A junior wide receiver, Eli Merck, has 56 catches for 738 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jaylen Brown-Wallace has fewer receptions (44) but more yards (786). Swinney is 4th on the team with 31 catches.

DSCN2287.JPG

Bryson James (25)

Clinton quarterback Davis Wilson, punter in his most famous completion, typically tosses seldom but accurately. The Red Devils’ propensity for gobbling up yards on the ground rivals Daniel’s pass offense in speed of movement. The Clinton stable of runners -- Jishun Copeland, Jykorie Gary, Bryson James, Jayden Robinson, et al. -- is constituted fast and shifty.

Daniel is the king until toppled. Regardless of Friday night’s outcome, Clinton has had a fantastic season. If Clinton wins, Daniel will consider the season a failure.

Relatively nearby, Powdersville (12-0) takes on Chester (8-3) in the other Upstate Class 3A bracket.

The Red Devils, who again go on the road, haven’t lost there all year.