Category Archives: Sports

King breaks records

Keyshawn King, a junior from Liberty High School, took home two gold medals and set two meet records at the Foothills Track Classic at Byrnes High School on March 18. He won the triple jump with a jump of 46-3.75, which beat the previous record of 45-0. He also won the long jump with a jump of 22-2, which beat the previous record of 21-8. His jump of 22-2 was also a personal record.


Trio of Liberty seniors sign to play at North Greenville

By Rocky Nimmons

LIBERTY — Last Friday was a big day for the Liberty High School family, as three football players off one of the most successful teams in Red Devil history signed to play next

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Liberty 10U basketball team wins Palmetto Tournament

LIBERTY — With only eight regular-season games played this year, the 10U Liberty Cavaliers boys’ basketball team pulled out an undefeated year.

Following the great season, the team began the Palmetto playoffs on Feb. 11. The playoffs featured 28 teams spread over two brackets.

After winning the bottom of the bracket, Liberty advanced to play a tough opponent in the also-undefeated Easley Storm on Feb. 15.

Following a great start in the first half, Liberty never looked

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Baseball/softball signups underway at Pickens Rec

PICKENS — Baseball/Softball registration is being taken now through Feb. 24 at the Pickens Recreation Center on Sangamo Road in Pickens.

The following age divisions are offered: Instructional (coed), 4

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Tigers head west

Rex Brown/Courtesy The Journal

A large crowd of supporters gathered outside Memorial Stadium’s West End Zone to wish the Clemson Tigers well on Monday afternoon as they departed for Glendale, Ariz., where they will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl with a trip to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on the line. Above, quarterback Deshaun Watson signs an autograph for a fan. Below, head coach Dabo Swinney prepares to give a high-five.

Clemson researchers hope to reduce football brain injuries

By Denise Attaway
Clemson University

CLEMSON — A team of Clemson University researchers and an Upstate businessman believe they can help make football a little safer by creating a facemask that can help reduce the severity of head injuries by increasing overall helmet protection.

The researchers are Gregory Batt, an assistant professor in the Clemson food, nutrition and packaging sciences department; John DesJardins, an associate professor of bioengineering and director of the Laboratory of Orthopaedic Design and Engineering; and Alex Bina, a doctoral student in bioengineering who also is a graduate research assistant in food, nutrition and packaging sciences. They are teaming up with Jay Elmore, owner of Green Gridiron to determine how future designs of facemasks can help improve the overall safety of football helmets. The team has received a nearly $50,000 grant from the Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute for their study “Quantifying the Impact Performance of Football Helmet Facemasks.”


Denise Attaway/Clemson University
Clemson University researchers, from left, Alex Bina, Gregory Batt and John Desjardins are using a linear drop tower with an anthropomorphic head model for their football helmet facemask tests.

“What we’re working on is trying to understand and evaluate the role a football helmet facemask plays in the overall impact performance of a football helmet system,” Bina said. “We’re doing this by evaluating the mechanisms by which forces are transmitted from the facemask through the rest of the helmet system upon impact.”

Impact forces on facemasks

The forces Bina refers to are g-forces, which result from accelerations experienced by the head during impact. Bina and the rest of the team are working to make helmets more safe by creating a facemask that can help the helmet transfer g-forces away from the head. Traditional helmet design produces protective equipment that gradually decelerates the head upon impact. Facemasks are to prevent direct contact with players’ faces.

“Ideally, facemasks would deform slightly in order to produce gradual head deceleration, but not so much so as to put players at risk of injuring their faces,” Bina said. “However, the deformation properties of existing facemask designs are not available, making it impossible for doctors. trainers and parents to make informed decisions when purchasing a facemask for their helmet system. The first step in our facemask impact performance experimentation is to generate a ranking system of existing facemask designs based on their ability to deform.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, head injuries can occur when there is rapid change in the movement of the head, such as when a football player is tackled. Any significant force can have a detrimental effect on brain tissue. Batt said there are many different situations on a football field that cause rapid changes in velocity, or g-forces.

“These situations can be player-to-player or player-to-turf interactions,” Batt said. “These rapid changes in velocity can cause the player’s brain to move around and smash against the player’s skull. This trauma can result in a brain injury.”

The facemask tests

The Clemson team is using a linear drop tower system for its tests. Helmets tested in this manner are placed on an anthropomorphic head model and dropped from a specific height to generate a simulated football head impact. In the lab, the researchers said the linear drop tower testing system shows fewer than three impacts of 12 mph can cause permanent damage to facemasks. Football players of all positions commonly reach maximum velocities above 12 mph, especially on kickoff returns and coverage plays in both games and practice.

Using the linear drop system introduces many variables to the overall performance of a facemask design, including the helmet’s padding structure, the helmet’s outer shell and the chin strap buckles. Some facemask designs only fit one helmet style, but testing the entire helmet system will not specifically determine how one facemask performs compared to another.

“Because facemasks have been overlooked by the head impact research community, it is important to start at the structural and material level to determine appropriate facemask designs, then move into studying the method with which the facemask is attached to the helmet outer shell,” Bina said.

The facemask tests are being conducted in the head impact section, the Clemson Helmet Impact Performance Laboratory (CHIP LAB) of the Sonoco Packaging Science laboratory on the Clemson campus. Some variables the researchers are studying include structural stiffness, resistance to permanent deformation and energy absorption. Over the course of a season, an NFL or college team may experience a handful of permanent facemask deformations in game situations, requiring the equipment staff to replace the facemasks on the sideline. However, at the youth level, the course of a season’s worth of impacts in practices and games can permanently damage facemasks beyond repair.

Facemask reconditioning service providers, such as Green Gridiron in Greenville, select permanently damaged masks from youth, high school, college and professional programs and removes them from circulation. Undeformed masks are recoated and returned to teams.

Jay Elmore and his team at Green Gridiron are working with the Clemson researchers on the facemask study.

“I have been involved in football helmet facemask testing for more than six years and have struggled with inconsistent results,” Elmore said. “As a provider of football facemasks for teams across the country at various levels of play, we look forward to the testing methods developed at Clemson University and their ability to provide science-based and data-driven criteria for facemask selection and future facemask development.”

“When we set out to investigate facemask performance in general, there was no literature out there,” DesJardins said. “From a research university’s perspective, that’s the perfect thing to do: research something that is important but no one has done before.”

Football is a major sport at Clemson, so it is only natural a study on how to make the sport safer would be conducted by Clemson researchers.

“Anytime someone plays a contact sport, there’s a chance they will suffer a concussion,” said Danny Poole, Clemson’s director of sports medicine. “Football helmets were developed to help stop skull fractures, not concussions. If a helmet can be created that would stop concussions, everyone would buy it.”

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, about 75 percent of traumatic brain injuries that occur each year are concussions. Sports is second only to car crashes as the leading cause of brain injury among people aged 15 to 24 years.


After ACC title, Tigers advance to playoff again

By Alex Maminakis
Courtesy The Journal

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Clemson Tigers are ACC Champions for the second straight year, and College Football Playoff-bound once again.

Clemson defeated Virginia Tech 42-35 on Saturday night at Camping World Stadium for the conference crown — the first time in 28 years that the Tigers (12-1, 7-1 ACC) have won back-to-back conference championships. And, like last year against North Carolina, Saturday’s conference title didn’t come easy.

12-7 Page 1B.inddThe Hokies (9-4, 6-2) continued to answer the bell, keeping pace with Clemson’s offense after going down 14-0 early, but they could never close the gap. Virginia Tech came closest with 1:11 left in the game and the ball on Clemson’s 23-yard line, but Jerod Evans threw an interception to Cordrea Tankersley on fourth and six.

One more first-down run by Deshaun Watson, who was named the game’s MVP, sealed the victory.

“This is special,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said after the win. “They’re all special — every one of them has kind of its own story, its own journey — but this one here, back-to-back, 28 years, there’s a reason why it’s been that long, it’s hard to do. These guys set out to do that at the beginning of the year, and they were all brought here for this moment.”

Watson finished 23-of-34 passing for 288 yards, three passing touchdowns, 89 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Eight different Clemson receivers caught a pass from Watson, led by Artavis Scott with seven catches for 48 yards, Jordan Leggett with four catches — two for touchdowns — and 49 yards, and Deon Cain with two catches for a team-high 69 yards.

12-7 Page 1B.inddWith Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson in attendance, Watson made his own final push for the award. After the win, Swinney made his case for his quarterback.

“This guy right here (Watson) is the best player in the country, and it ain’t close,” Swinney said. “I’ve seen it the last two years, and proof’s in the pudding — we’re 12-1 this year, 13-0 last year in our regular seasons — there’s just nobody better, and he was on display tonight.”

Two of Watson’s biggest throws came with the Tigers up 35-28 in the fourth quarter — a 31-yard completion to Hunter Renfrow on second and 19 from his own 16-yard line, followed by a 30-yard completion to Cain on third and 14 later on the same drive. Renfrow scored a touchdown to cap off the drive, giving Clemson 42 points.

“I always tell my receivers, whether we have man or any situation, I’m gonna give y’all guys a shot, y’all go be special and make the play,” Watson said. “Really, it’s an honor, it’s a blessing to have those guys on my team and to make me look good.”

With the conference title and a 12-1 season, the Tigers are poised to head back to the College Football Playoff and make another run at the national championship that slipped through their fingers last year. A Dec. 31 Fiesta Bowl showdown against third-seeded Ohio State is all that stands between second-seeded Clemson and the College Football Playoff National Championship game against the winner of No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Washingto

12-7 Page 1B.indd

n in the Peach Bowl.

This week, though, the Tigers w


ill sav


or Saturday’s win, another big one for their program.

“Both were pretty sweet,” Watson said of Clemson’s back-to-back conference titles, “but I think this one was just a little bit sweeter.”



Wave move forward during 2016 season

EASLEY — Led by second-year head coach John Windham, the Easley Green Wave finished 2016 with a losing season at 5-6, but the Wave did have a chance to take a try at the 5A playoffs with a trip to old nemesis Greenwood. Even though that trip did not end as hoped, it was a step in the right direction for Easley.

The season began with high expectations for Windham’s Green Wave, having more than 100 players working hard in the preseason. Some key losses made the Wave fall short of reaching all their goals, but making the playoffs was on that list, and that they accomplished.

Fruster finds success in first year in charge

By Rocky Nimmons

CENTRAL — The first year on the job was a success for Daniel football coach Jeff Fruster.

Despite his Lions’ first round exit in the Class 4A playoffs the Lions did show improvment from the previous season, posting a winning 6-5 record and even taking wins over long-time rivals Pickens and Seneca, both in convincing fashion.

Fourth-quarter surge lifts York over Lions

By Rocky Nimmons

YORK — Jeff Fruster’s first season as the head coach of his alma mater is in the books. The York Cougars made sure of it with a 35-10 thumping of the Lions in round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday in York.

Daniel hung tough, even taking a 10-7 lead into the halftime intermission, only to see the wheels fall off in the final quarter. The Lions were outscored 28-0 in the fourth quarter, with three of the touchdowns coming via the big play.

11-23 Page 1B.indd“I think the kids came out and played primarily hard for most of the game,” Fruster said. “We let some big plays go against us. I think we got psyched out a bit by the things that were happening at the end of the game.”

The Lions did manage three interceptions, all by junior defensive back Michael Becker, but only one led to points. York, however, dominated the stats posting 424 yards to the Lions’ 138.

“The one thing that I have learned this season is that momentum is very hard to keep and maintain,” Fruster said. “I thought we had a lot of it going in the first quarter, and we didn’t do enough to keep it in the second half. Once you lose it, it is something that is hard to get back.”

The game kicked off with the Lions getting the ball to open. A quick three-and-out put York in great field position the first time it had the ball. Starting at their own 40-yard line, the Cougars mounted a six-play series that led to the game’s first points. Big plays included a 17-yard pass from York quarterback Ethan Mitchell to wide receiver Shandon Cobb for 17 yards, followed two plays later by a 25-yard completion from Mitchell to La’daruis Allison. Mitchell capped the drive with a seven-yard TD toss to Allison with 8:54 left in the first quarter. Myles Prosser added the PAT, making the score 7-0 in favor of York.

Following an exchange of punts, the Lion defense began to roar. Facing a third and six from the Lions’ 34-yard line, Mitchell went back to the air, only to have his pocket picked by Becker, who was sitting back in coverage for the Lions.

11-23 Page 1B.inddAfter the turnover, Fruster’s offense just couldn’t muster a drive and was forced to punt the ball away once more. Daniel punter and field goal kicker Nick Muchow sent a nice one down the field, giving the Cougars the pigskin near midfield at the York 45.

Rocky Nimmons/Courier Daniel’s Billy Bruce is dragged down by a York defender during their game Friday night.

The Lion defenders were still playing lights out. On the Cougars’ second snap from scrimmage, again Becker was the man when he stepped in front of another Mitchell pass, giving his team the ball at the York 46.

Daniel quarterback Ben Batson wasted little time, as he fired a 36-yard pass on first down to receiver Will Swinney to the York 10-yard line. Daniel’s only touchdown of the night came three plays later when Batson slung one to Kiandre Sims from nine yards out. Muchow split the uprights on the extra point, evening the game at 7-7 with 10:55 to play in the half.

The Lions took the lead late in the first half. This time it was another turnover that set the Daniel series in motion. The Lions had been forced to punt, and Muchow blasted one downfield with York’s Ke’trael Lytle back deep. Lytle bobbled the kick, allowing Daniel to take over at the Cougar 21. The Lions offense sputtered, but they were close enough for Muchow, who came on and nailed a 39-yard field goal with 3:13 to play, giving the Lions a 10-7 lead.

11-23 Page 1B.inddThe lead held up until the fourth quarter, when fate stopped smiling on Fru’s crew. A Batson interception got things going for York. The Cougars took over at the Lion 42-yard line and went right to work. On first down, Mitchell hit Cobb for 25 yards on a post pattern and followed that up two plays later with a 17-yard strike to Allison for touchdown. Prosser added the PAT with 11:23 to play in the contest, giving the Cougars a 14-10 lead.

Rocky Nimmons/Courier
Daniel senior Will Swinney fights for yardage after a catch at York on Friday night.

It was all downhill from that point, as the Lions began to self destruct. The very next time York had the ball, it was obvious the Cougars were out for blood. On the series’ second snap, Paul Moore took a Mitchell handoff and split the Daniel defense, racing 71 yards to paydirt. Prosser tacked on the PAT with 9:11 to play, pushing the York lead to 21-10.

It quickly went from bad to worse following the ensuing kickoff, as the Lions where stymied deep at the 22. The drive started at the 38-yard line, but back-to-back sacks on backup Lion quarterback Noah Lupton, who was subbing for the injured Batson, killed the drive and forced a punt. Disaster stuck when Muchow was cornered as he got the kick away, with the Cougars blocking the kick. Cobb was “Johnny on the spot” and snatched up the loose ball in the end zone for six points with 7:01 to play. Prosser added the PAT, pushing York’s lead to 28-10.

11-23 Page 1B.inddThe game’s final points of the night came on another big play. This time it was a 65-yard scamper by Moore on first down. Again Prosser nailed the PAT, ending the Lions’ season with a 35-10 loss.

“The kids did a good job of persevering,” Fruster said. “Even when the game got away from us, the kids were still fighting and playing hard. I think we have hope for the future.”

Fruster added that he had learned during his first season as a head coach that you can’t take anything for granted.

“I am very proud of these kids and what they were able to accomplish this year, having a winning season for the first time since 2014,” he said. “I have found to take comfort in the little things and to continue to build on.”

This was the last game for 14 seniors, who will never wear the Lions’ golden helmet again.

“We had a lot of things that happened to us this year, breaks that went against us, and they continued to persevere and fight through. I’m proud of this senior class and what they were able to accomplish this season,” Fruster said.


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