EASLEY—An electric crowd and relentless running game boosted the Easley football team past Daniel High, 21-14, in its home opener at Green Wave Stadium Friday night.
Easley is now 2-0 on the season, and Head Coach Chad Smith says he is pleased with his team.
“Daniel’s got a great defense, they are a well-coached team, but luckily we’re not very bad either,” said Smith. “The seven shutouts (Daniel had) last year, and all that other stuff, our kids knew that going in. We executed, and I’ve never been more proud of an offensive line or backfield.”
The Lions imposed their will early, looking to spoil the celebration for the Green Wave at the brand new stadium. Daniel scored the first two touchdowns, and held a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. JR Crawford got the Green Wave on the board just before the half, however, and a successful two point conversion moved the score to 14-8 at the half.
“We have a huge sign in our locker room that says don’t flinch, and that’s what they did,” said Smith. “I tell them every week that something good is going to happen, and something bad is going to happen, and the team that can maintain composure the best is going to win.”
Easley’s CJ Fuller took over after the break, reeling off a 64-yard run that gave his team a 15-14 lead over Daniel in the third. Fuller later punched in another score that gave Easley a 21-14 advantage.
“When we execute, we’re a pretty good football team,” said Smith. “CJ Fuller had some big runs, Dan Travan had some big runs, Troy McGowens and JR Crawford followed their big offensive line. If they do that and we get better every day, we’ll have a chance to be a special football team at the end of the year.”
With time ticking down, Daniel mounted a long drive that was squandered in Easley territory by a key fumble.
Daniel head coach Randy Robinson says turnovers are what killed his team in the end.
“If you look at the last seven years, when we win the turnover battle we win, but when we lose the turnover battle we lose,” said Robinson. “That’s one of those things that doesn’t lie in football, and we weren’t able to overcome it. They flat out whipped us on the defensive side of the ball. That hasn’t happened in a really long time.”
Robinson said his team missed an opportunity.
“We had an opportunity in front of a lot of people with a lot of excitement,” said Robinson. “We turned the football over and you can’t do that against a good team. Easley has a good team this year.”
Opening night saw a packed house for Easley fans. Daniel fans also filled the visitors section in what resulted in a fired up Friday night game.
“This is what high school football is all about,” said Robinson. “I just wish we could have given them a better game.”
Easley Athletic Director Chris Carter says the opener at the new high school was everything he had dreamed it would be.
“You always come in with a thought of what you think it may be like, but that was beyond any expectation I’ve ever imagined,” said Carter. “Our town is passionate about football. They believe in Chad Smith and they believe in what he’s doing.”
“It’s a huge win,” he continued. “Anytime you line up against a team with gold helmets, with the tradition and success that they’ve had, it’s unreal.”
Coach Smith agreed.
“You can go anywhere in the state, but we’ve got the best fans anywhere,” said Smith.
The Green Wave will try to make it a perfect 3-0 on the season as they travel to Seneca next week. Smith says he knows his team has a long road ahead.
“We can’t relax. We can’t afford to,” said Smith. “Seneca is a great football team, and so is Wren. We’ll just see what happens, and we’re going to have to start preparing (on Saturday).”