Green Wave battling to earn playoff berth

By Ryan Davenport
Special to The Courier

EASLEY — Easley’s 3-5 overall record could be considered deceiving if it were not for a rough two-game stand against teams from the city of Anderson.

Close losses to Daniel, Seneca and Belton-Honea Path showed a team that was on the verge of finding its way after the season’s first six games.

10-19 Page 1B.inddA late-game breakdown against T.L. Hanna and a thrashing at the hands of highly-ranked Westside in its last two outings have the potential to sour the squad’s hopes for a 5A playoff spot heading into its final two Region I-5A games.

With a week off to regroup, regain composure and get healthy, Easley is aiming to make sure that is not the case. The Green Wave will host the Woodmont Wildcats on Friday night in their final home game of the season. Woodmont also enters with three wins, but the Wildcats have six losses and could be playing their final game of the 2016 season. Woodmont is currently 1-2 in Region I-5A, one game ahead of Easley as the race for the last two region playoff spots heats up.

“We’ve got a week off and we’ve got to regroup,” Easley head coach John Windham said after the Wave’s loss to Westside. “We’ve got to get healthy for the next two weeks and continue to improve.”

The Green Wave and Wildcats have three common opponents so far on the season, including those same two teams from the city of Anderson. Woodmont lost to Westside 55-7 on Sept. 30, a score similar to Easley’s 46-7 loss to the Rams the following week. Woodmont lost to Hanna 41-21 last Friday night, scoring two late touchdowns to cut into Hanna’s big lead. Woodmont also defeated Wren 33-27 earlier in the season, the same Wren team Easley got the best of in week four.

10-19 Page 1B.inddOne opponent the two teams do not yet have in common is J.L. Mann — though they will soon. The Wildcats picked up their only region win against Mann two weeks ago with a 21-7 decision, giving them the edge over Easley in the current race for a coveted playoff spot.

Kerry Gilstrap/Courier
Easley senior Will Drawdy gets past a T.L. Hanna defender during their game Sept. 30 in Easley.

Easley will face off with Mann in the final regular season finale, scheduled for Oct. 28 at J.L. Mann. With the South Carolina High School League’s extension of the regular season by two weeks, many teams are aiming to push some regular seasons back rather than face two weeks off prior to the playoffs. There is no word yet if Easley will aim to be one of those teams.

Woodmont is led in part by Davonne Bowen, who lines up as a linebacker, defensive end and running back while also returning kicks for the Wildcats. Bowen is a member of the 2017 recruiting class for the University of South Carolina and has been chosen to play in the Shrine Bowl in December.

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Friday night also marks the final home game for Easley’s 25 seniors and this year’s edition of the always-raucous Easley Green Wave student section. That means it is the final home game for several Wave seniors who will likely find themselves on a college football roster next season.

Tommy McGaha/
Easley quarterback Weston Black fires a pass during the Green Wave’s loss at Westside this month.

Linebacker Caleb Hill was the first Green Wave to make a commitment, pledging his services to FCS member Brown University, which competes in the academically prestigious Ivy League.

Receiver Bralan Fuller reportedly has multiple FCS-level offers, among them Presbyterian and Liberty University. Safety Sean-Thomas Faulkner reportedly carries an offer from The Citadel.

Running back Will Drawdy is also expected to make a commitment at some point prior to February. Drawdy currently holds an offer from Brown and has made a number of other visits. Defensive lineman Allen Cheagle and offensive lineman Luke Foster are also likely to pick up an opportunity to play at the next level.

Westside currently leads Region I-5A with a 3-0 mark. Hanna is 2-0 and faces J.L. Mann this Friday night. Woodmont’s 1-2 region record currently holds down third place, while Easley and Mann are both 0-2. Westside and Hanna meet in their annual battle of Anderson in two weeks, a game that will likely determine the top seed from the region. The top two teams will open the playoffs at home, while the third and fourth teams will travel.

Friday night’s kickoff at Easley High School is set for 7:30 p.m.