EDITORIAL: Major Changes Are Coming
On Friday, we saw this social media hash tag pop up: #InWebbWeTrust.
All the good feelings are gone now. The up-beat-ness that we felt that day when we named a “native son” to the city’s highest profile sports position, vanished. Andrew Webb won’t be the head football coach at Clinton High School next season. Jimmy Webb won’t lead the athletic booster club. Jo Webb won’t coach volleyball.
It’s a turning of the page.
Now, Clinton High School and District 56 have to take a very close, hard look at where football goes from here. Ten seasons removed from the last Red Devil football state championship, if they take that close look they will see a sport in evolution.
Our path to another state championship in football will always be blocked by Union County and Dillon County. No way around it. So, we should de-escalate our expectations. Second place in the region, two rounds deep in the playoffs - IF we can compete with Newberry, which spent the money to land a big-name coach, Woodruff and Emerald. Looks like we’ll always have Laurens on the schedule, a formidable AAAAA opponent. Can it ever be enough to raise hard-nosed, give it all we got, respectful student-athletes who like their coaches never buy in to the win-at-all-costs mentality? And, can we ever let the Athletic Director makes these decisions - what she is paid to do - without involving the school board?
At CHS itself, a shift is going on. Boys’ soccer is making the playoffs. Boys’ cross-country is region champion. Girls’ track produced a state champion relay team. Boys’ tennis has played for the state title in successive seasons. Baseball was four runs away from the upper state title in 2016. Girls’ basketball played for the upper state championship in 2012. Boys’ basketball played for the upper state championship in 2017.
While there are some cross-over athletes - basketball players who can compete on the gridiron - we really have to face the future. Concussions and defensive restrictions are killing this sport anyway. Is it time to give it a respectful, minor place in the sports pantheon.
Perhaps not just yet.
You know, Presbyterian College football could do a lot worse than signing all 25 of the Laurens County All-County football players to letters of intent to play football for the Blue Hose. Some All-County players are underclassmen, so their time will be coming. Some will want to play football at bigger colleges. Still, Laurens County football fans want to see players that they know, and care about, on the field. That, could be the way forward into The Pioneer League. A PC chance to play could be a great recruiting tool for the Red Devils. Again, PC could do a lot worse ...
Laurens-Greenwood also could do a lot worse than Mike Pitts in electing a “tell like I see it” state lawmaker. You always know where Mike Pitts stands. Gun legislation, Confederate flag, big-game hunting - you always could count on his position. Support for the thin blue line - unwavering. ZF needs an EMS station - here’s the money. District 56 built Clinton High School on the wrong piece of land, yes, Mike Pitts had an opinion about that, too. Now, he is moving on - to a position in charge of land conservation in South Carolina.
Sounds like a good spot for an avowed outdoorsman.
As we send Mike Pitts off to his next challenge, we can’t help but wonder and analyze - What does Laurens County want in a State Representative? We, Clinton, will never have a chance to elect “one of our own” - Union will always out-vote us to the east, north Laurens will always out-vote us to the west. In the larger picture, however, the county stands to have three State Representatives, Doug Gilliam and Mark Willis, along with Pitts' replacement, with a significant stake in the success of our communities.
About all we can hope to do is keep the lines of communication open. And, elect a listener.