Wave top Lions for third straight year

By Ben Robinson
For the Courier

EASLEY — Sitting at 2-0 after a pair of wins over county rivals, including their third consecutive win over Daniel last Friday, the Easley Green Wave seem to be on a bit of a roll.

But coach Chad Smith isn’t ready to celebrate just yet.

“We love playing Daniel, because they are a well-coached team, and you’re going to have to earn anything you get from them,” Smith said. “But you look at our schedule, and there are lots of teams like that.”

“We cannot go out and give anything less than our best effort and expect to win. This week we had better get ready for Seneca. Next week it’s Wren. These are quality teams, and we’ll have to give our best effort to earn a win each week.”

One aspect of the Green Wave team that often gets overlooked is the team’s defense.

“Fans may overlook our defense, but our opponents certainly can’t,” Smith said.

Smith credits defensive coordinator Andy Tweito, a former Pickens head coach, for the defense’s success.

“Coach Tweito and the defensive coaches do a great job for us,” Smith said. “Last week, our defense held Pickens scoreless for three quarters before giving up what turned out to be a meaningless touchdown in the fourth. This week Daniel scored early, but coach Tweito got the team settled down and shut out Daniel for the final two-and-half quarters, and we were able to comeback for the win.”

Smith said it helps to have a veteran team on the field. Easley has plenty of seniors on its first and second teams.

“Whatever we come up against, these guys seem to recognize, and are ready for whatever adjustments are needed,” Smith said.

Easley controlled the ball throughout the game, retaining possession for more than 34 minutes, while Daniel only had possession for less than 14 minutes.

“Our offense moves at a steady but time-consuming pace,” Smith said. “It helps so much when our defense is able to make the stops, then get off the field.”

Smith is pleased to have three wins over Daniel in his brief coaching career.

“I played high school ball for Pickens, so I know the kind of talent Daniel has to work with,” Smith said. “And I know that (Daniel) coach Randy Robinson and his staff are excellent coaches. So yes, it’s always special when you face Daniel and come out with a win. It’s a credit to every young man out there wearing Green to have a win against such an excellent team.”

Smith said Easley enjoyed the support of the overflow crowd that came out for the grand opening of Green Wave Stadium.

“The people were just fabulous,” Smith said. “This was just the first of many memories to come on Green Wave Field.”

With an offense known for eating time off the clock, it would seem that the Green Wave would have been panicked trailing by two touchdowns early in the second quarter, but Easley kept attacking with its slow, yet somewhat dominant pace, and scored three unanswered touchdowns to take the 21-14 win over Daniel.

Trailing 14-0 with 10:22 remaining in the second quarter, the Green Wave drove the ball 76 yards on a 13-play drive that took more than six minutes off the clock. Easley had yet to attempt its first extra-point kick of the season, so quarterback Kevin Bryant completed a pass to Jake Vess for the two-point conversion, cutting the Daniel lead to 14-8 with 4:19 to play in the first half.

Daniel kicker Christain Groomes booted the second-half kick-off to Troy McGowens at the Easley 17-yard line. McGowens returned the kick seven yards to the Easley 25, where the Green Wave began their first possession of the third quarter.

McGowens ran twice, picking up an Easley first down, before C.J. Fuller broke loose for a 64-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 14-14. Scott Mode then came in to try for his first extra-point kick of the season, hitting it and giving Easley a 15-14 lead over the Lions.
On Daniel’s next drive, the Lions drove the ball inside the Easley 10-yard line before Easley’s Andrew Albertson recovered a Daniel fumble to stop the scoring threat.

From there the Green Wave began a 17-play, 80-yard scoring drive that lasted well into the fourth period.

Fuller ran the final two yards for a touchdown that gave Easley a 21-14 lead with 9:11 to play. The Green Wave failed on a two-point conversion that would have almost ended any hope the Lions had, but it would ultimately not matter.

Daniel began its next drive at its own 22-yard line, driving the ball to the Easley 30-yard line before Green Wave defensive back Chad Smith recovered another Lion fumble with a little more than six minutes remaining in the game. Easley was able to run the remaining time off the clock, improving to 2-0 for the season.

The Green Wave offense, known for its conservative nature, has outscored opponents 61-21 so far this year.

The Green Wave have achieved 31 of their 32 first downs this season on rushing plays and outgained opponents by an average of nearly 200 yards on the ground per game.

Fuller leads the team in rushing with 324 yards and four touchdowns.
This Friday night, Easley will travel to Seneca to face its second consecutive Western AAA test. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.