Wave turn focus to region schedule

By Ben Robinson
For the Courier

EASLEY — With Easley a perfect a 4-0, and several state polls ranking both the Green Wave and region foe Greenwood in the Top 10 among state AAAA schools, the temptation is there to look ahead to later in the season when the two teams face off October 19, but Easley coach Chad Smith is not falling for that way of thinking.

“There are no sure wins on the schedule, and if we start looking ahead and do not prepare for any team, we are likely to get beat,” he said. “We have to take it one game at a time.”

Taking it one game at a time in Region I-AAAA begins this Friday night, when the Laurens Raiders make their first trek to Green Wave Stadium for both teams’ region opener.

Laurens was at one time one of Easley’s toughest rivals, with the Raiders defeating the Green Wave for several consecutive years, but Easley has won the last two contests between the schools.

“We scouted them Friday night, and they had more than 400 yards rushing in a loss (to Woodruff),” Smith said. “That team matches up with us real well. We’ll need the support of all the Green Wave fans to beat them Friday night.”

Laurens comes into Friday’s game with a 2-2 record, having defeated Clinton and Belton-Honea Path and with losses to Woodruff and Spartanburg.

“Given a break, they could play with anybody in the state,” Smith said. “We cannot afford to be looking past them.”

Next Friday night, the Green Wave will host T.L. Hanna. The Yellow Jackets are currently 2-2, with losses to Wren and North Augusta and wins against Mauldin and rival Westside.

“Hanna is always tough, wherever you play them,” Smith said. “We’ll have to be on our toes to avoid coming out of that game with a loss.”
The following week, Easley travels to Anderson to face Westside, 1-3 so far this season.

“Westside lost to Hanna, but that’s a rivalry game, and you can’t consider that when you’re preparing to play them,” Smith said. “They beat a good Seneca team earlier this year, and could challenge for a spot in the playoffs with a win over us.”

After Westside, the Green Wave will head to to Piedmont to face Woodmont, a winless squad so far this season. Woodmont has only been at the AAAA level for a short time after many years of competing at the AAA level.

“You get the feeling that they could strike at any time,” Smith said. “They’re going to win at the AAAA level, and if we do not play our best, we could be their first victims.”

Following the game at Woodmont, the Wave will get their opportunity at redemption against Greenwood, the team that handed Easley both of its losses last season, including a 17-0 game in the AAAA playoffs. Greenwood is 4-0 this season, including wins over Big 16 power Dorman, Spartanburg, South Aiken and Irmo.

“I cannot control how good Greenwood is,” Smith said. “My job is to have Easley ready to play and compete to the best of their ability. I honestly feel if we can do that, there is a chance of defeating them, but regardless, I want our kids to go out and give their best effort. But we cannot worry about Greenwood now. We’ve got plenty of business to take care of on our way there.”

Easley ends its home season against Hillcrest October 26, then finishes the regular season on the road in Greenville, taking on J.L. Mann.
Smith hopes to be able to make it back to Green Wave Stadium in the postseason, but knows his team will have to take care of business to assure that.

“We hope to have home playoff games, but of course we will have to earn them,” Smith said.

Earning them will be difficult with the strength of schedule the Wave face, Smith said.

“We don’t have any weak ones left on this schedule,” he said.
Things have gone well so far, however, so Smith plans to keep his team’s gameplan status quo week-to-week, attacking teams with a punishing ground-based offense and a staunch defense.

“If teams are going to beat us, they will have to beat us at what we do best,” Smith said.