A new day for Wave


2013 Easley Green Wave

2013 Easley Green Wave

New coach, new offense and just four returning starters

By Ben Robinson, Courier Sports

EASLEY — When coach Chad Smith left Easley High School last season, rumors flew about his possible replacement. Smith ran a very ball-control heavy brand of offense and coached many seniors on his final Green Wave squad. Smith also brought a winning tradition back to the Green Wave, with three back-to-back playoff seasons.

Smith was successful in bringing back some of the pride that had so long been associated with the program, which started in the 1920s. The Green Wave have won four State championships in their history.

The first was under the leadership of Coach J.C. Brice in 1937. Brice was a longtime servant to the school, being the principal for quite a while, then the superintendent of Easley-area schools. Though Brice provided great leadership on the field, he was known better for his way of working with students and guiding them through some very important decisions.

Another man who gained public prominence after leading the Green Wave to a State title, former Easley mayor Bill Carr coached the squad to its second crown in 1962, the highlight of his 10 seasons on the sidelines.

Easley won its third and fourth state titles under the leadership of EHS graduate Larry Bagwell, the current mayor of Easley. Bagwell won the State championship in his first season, 1967. His team took top honors again in 1972 with a squad that featured future NFL great Stanley Morgan and future Easley head coach and athletic director Mike Barnes.

While Easley has had occasional good seasons since that ‘72 title, the Green Wave have never returned to their past glory. But the past three seasons, under Smith, the Green Wave came close, before Smith departed for a new challenge in Clover after three winning seasons.

Green Wave fans were unlikely to accept a new coach who could be satisfied with three-win seasons.

Enter Grayson Howell, a former assistant at Daniel High School under coach Allen Sitterle and most recently head coach at Sumter, who accepted the challenge of leading the Green Wave to perhaps new heights.

Howell’s offense has been described by some as “wide-open” or “high-powered” but the coach himself considers it a basic “run-first” offense.

The Easley offense will rely upon the talents of C.J. Fuller, the only returning starter on that side of the ball. Fuller has already committed to play for Clemson University next season, which should work out well for Howell’s Green Wave.

“To be honest, our offense resembles Clemson’s a little,” Howell said. “I think they would prefer to run the ball more often. We’re not that complicated with ours — we do not have the practice time that they do — but we hope to run the ball effectively.”

Through the preseason the Green Wave have had no major problems with the offense, but Howell is ready to make any adjustments necessary if the team stalls midway through the season.

Under center at quarterback will be sophomore Dalton Black, while the tight end will be senior Thomas Bullard.

Five players will rotate freely at the wide receiver position: Deequon Arnold, Landon Segee, Hakeim Warren, Dee Gamble and Jackson Matthews.

The offensive line is built around center Watson Owens. Guards are set to be Trevon Benjamin and Austin Rusher. Offensive tackles will be Eli Lowe and Lucas Grant.

The defense will be anchored by seniors Quavon Ferguson and Mark Livingston at defensive tackle. Warren and Jordan Crooks will start at defensive end.

The two inside linebacker positions will be shared by Dalton Hughes, Dru Duke and Thomas Thornton. Lining up at outside linebacker will be Peddy Cleaves and Stephen Andersson.

Arnold and Kelsia Sumrell will line up at corner, while Kardeem Hines will play safety.

Scott Mode will handle both the place-kicking and punting duties.

Easley opens the season this Friday at home in the Sam Wyche Meals on Wheels Food Fight Bowl against rival Pickens. The Easley-Pickens rivalry is one of the school’s oldest, though it was cut for many years after fans began to cause problems after games and Easley dominated in early years. The series was restored in the late 1970s and has been relatively even since then. A few years ago, students at Easley and Pickens high schools decided to use the game as a fundraiser for Pickens County Meals on Wheels. Both schools have contributed to the county’s fight against hunger.

Next, Easley goes on the road to face county rival Daniel. Though Daniel remains a AAA school, the Lions have built a reputation as one of the top programs in the Upstate. The Green Wave have won three in a row in the series, providing Daniel with one of its toughest challenges early in the season.

Easley then plays Seneca in another traditionally tough match-up. For many years the Bobcats fielded excellent teams under coach Tom Bass. Playing in the rugged Western AAA under the tutelage of former Berea and Belton-Honea Path coach Wayne Green, Seneca seems to always have a tough team.

Easley then finishes the non-conference portion of its schedule against rival Wren. When Wren was founded in 1957, it was simply a single-A school, and was not considered much of a challenge for Easley. But the community grew and grew, eventually with its school sharing the same AAAA conference as Easley. When Powdersville High School was developed to ease overcrowding at Wren, Wren dropped back into the Western AAA, but the game against Easley — with the two schools only a few mile apart — still brings in a rowdy crowd.

After a bye week, Easley will open play in Region I-AAAA with a trip to Laurens to face the Raiders. Laurens once dominated Easley, but things have been rather equal for the past few seasons.

Easley then travels to Anderson for its third consecutive game on the road, against T.L. Hanna, before coming home the following week to face another Anderson County foe in Westside.

The Green Wave will play at Woodmont, which has struggled in the AAAA ranks, the following week in preparation for a visit from defending region and AAAA-Division II State champion Greenwood, which has been dominant in conference action in recent years.

The Green Wave’s final regular-season home game will come against Hillcrest, while Easley will hit the road to take on J.L. Mann to close the season the following week.

With a long history of excellence to support his young team, Howell hopes to add exciting new chapters to the tale of Easley High School football.