Flame turn focus to Western AAA slate

By Eugene Jolley
Courier Sports

PICKENS — The Pickens Blue Flame actually got to enjoy the Labor 9-16 Page 1B USE THIS.inddDay holiday last week before turning their attention to the Western AAA opener at Wren on Friday night.[cointent_lockedcontent]

Coach John Boggs gave his staff and players a few days off, including Labor Day, as the team had an open date on Friday night. The plan was for the staff to split up and go and watch other region teams they will see in the coming weeks.

Wren has struggled early, losing big to T.L. Hanna and Easley and winning over Woodmont. Gone are star quarterback Kelly Bryant and most of the offensive line from a year ago. The Hurricanes could start as many as four freshmen and sophomores along the lines.

For Pickens, it was great to go into the open date coming off a win — a convincing 30-0 rout of county rival Liberty. Pickens forced five turnovers in the game and is now plus-four in the turnover margin entering region play.

Pickens played Wren twice last year — once in the region and then in the first round of the state AAA playoffs. Bryant showed why he was an elite recruit headed to Clemson in both games.

The Blue Flame have been fairly fortunate so far injury-wise. Junior lineman Hudson Burgess has been out all season with a leg injury, and freshman lineman Braden Gravely injured his knee against Pendleton. He’s expected back in a few weeks.

The Blue Flame don’t have many players — with only 28 on the roster — so everyone is playing a good bit.

Leading the way defensively for the Blue Flame have been senior lineman Tyler Gravely and junior linebacker Cole Seaborn. Seaborn has 24 tackles, including five for loss. Gravely has 19 tackles, including six for loss and two sacks.

Pickens is glad to have senior Matt Gravely kicking again this season. He’s been perfect on his six extra-point attempts and is 5-of-7 on field goals, with a long of 44. He has hit from 60 in pregame.