Food Fight Bowl this Friday night

By Eugene Jolley, Courier Sports

EASLEY — The Easley Green Wave will look for a third consecutive win against archrival Pickens when they host the Blue Flame Friday night at 8 p.m. in the annual Sam Wyche Meals on Wheels Food Fight Bowl, the season opener for both teams.

Easley won 40-7 last year and 54-20 two seasons ago.

Pickens will enter the game coming off a 14-0 blanking of Walhalla in the Pickens Jamboree last Friday night. Easley lost 7-0 to Pendleton in that same jamboree in a strange play. Pendleton punted the ball at about the 40 yard line, but the punt was shanked and never crossed the line of scrimmage. The ball, since it was still live, was picked up by the punter and run in for the only score of the game.

The Green Wave beat Berea, 26-7, in a half at the Easley Jamboree last Thursday night, and had scrimmaged the Bulldogs and Liberty last week.

“We got better, I hope,” first-year Easley coach Grayson Howell said following the Blue Flame Jamboree. “We saw some progress. We felt good with how we played last night with our jamboree. The thing we talked about after last night’s jamboree, and the thing we’ve really preached all preseason, is being consistent and being able to put back-to-back practices together and things like that. We challenged them last night and we played great last night, to be able to put some consistency together and come out and play tonight. We didn’t play well. We didn’t play with any emotion. I felt like Pendleton was more physical than we were tonight, and it showed. We’ve got to find a way to bring it every time we practice and every time we play. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Easley had threatened in the final minutes, getting inside the 10-yard line twice. But the Green Wave missed a field goal and then had a fourth-down pass fall incomplete.

Pickens blanked Westside 20-0 in the Easley Jamboree. Tyler Gravely scored a touchdown, recovering a fumble in the end zone, while Gunner Covey had a 24-yard scoring run and Jacob Addington added a 30-yard score. The Blue Flame had earlier scrimmaged against Wade Hampton.

“I think it was good,” Pickens coach Chad Seaborn said of the preseason. “I think we’ve got a little bit of tired legs, but everybody does right now. I think the next two days will be good to get a little recovery, get our legs back under us and back off a little bit for next week. Overall, very pleased with what we got in and how they’ve seemed to improve every time out. I told them we’re nowhere where we need to be, and they know that. That’s the good thing. We just want to get better every day.”

Friday night against Walhalla, the Blue Flame got a one-yard touchdown run by Antron Wakefield and a 35-yard keeper by Mason Covey for scores. Gunner Covey and J.C. Baker had big blocks on the long touchdown run around right end.

Both teams are excited about the match-up in front of what should be a standing-room only crowd this Friday night.

“We’re excited,” Howell said. “It wouldn’t matter if we were playing the kids off the movie The Little Giants. It’s the first game of the year. With it being Pickens, that makes it even better. It should increase our focus. The preseason is tough, because you’re not really playing for anything quite yet. Hopefully next week we’ll be razor-sharp on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and be ready to go on Friday.”

Seaborn agreed that anticipation will be high come Friday night.

“It will be a challenge for us,” he said. “I watched (the Green Wave) tonight and saw them last night there, and they are well-coached. Coach Howell and that staff do a great job. They have some great athletes. I hope it will be a good game. We haven’t held up our end of the bargain the last two years. I hope this year we can make it a better game and get in there and compete a little bit. Our kids are excited about it. They’re tired of beating on each other, tired of jamborees. They’re ready to get in game week and face the Green Wave.”

The game will be broadcast on WCCP-FM 104.9. James Thurn and William Qualkinbush will provide radio coverage of the week zero game.

In other games at the Easley Jamboree, T.L. Hanna beat Rock Hill, 14-12; Seneca beat Rosman (N.C.) 35-8. At Pickens, Seneca beat Liberty 14-7. Daniel beat Wade Hampton 17-14 as Christian Groomes kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired. Clemson commit Jae’lon Oglesby had a long touchdown reception in the game.

In addition to Friday night’s season opener for the Blue Flame, Daniel will host the annual Daniel Day Jamboree beginning at 6 p.m. The jamboree will feature Liberty taking on Christ Church, Walhalla playing Blacksburg, and the host Lions battling AAAA Spartanburg to close the night.