NEWBERRY — With a close win such as the one between Newberry High School’s Bulldogs and the Union County Yellow Jackets last Friday night, it should not be hard for the team to keep its momentum going.
The Bulldogs take on the Clinton Red Devils Friday night at home with a kickoff time of 7:30 p.m.
Although the Bulldogs came out on top against Union County, Coach Phil Strickland said they can definitely get a whole lot better as a team.
“We had a lot of mistakes. You can expect some the first game, but we had too many,” Strickland said.
Despite the mistakes, Strickland said it was a lot easier to correct mistakes following a win, rather than a loss.
“An ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day,” he said.
Mistakes Strickland said the Bulldogs made in their first game included lining up wrong, using the wrong formations, blocking assignments, alignment and jumping offsides several times during the game.
“It’s aggravating as a coach, but ultimately it’s my job to correct it,” Strickland said.
The Newberry Bulldogs have played Clinton for years, Strickland said, and he said the team makes no bones about what they’re going to do. Strickland said Clinton was a running team and that the Bulldogs would need to mop up their mistakes and to keep getting better to compete well against them.
The Red Devils are currently 0-2 with both of their games being played on the road against AC Flora and Greer. Strickland said he hoped Newberry being their third game without a home field advantage would work out in the Bulldogs’ favor.
The last time Clinton started a season 0-2 before picking up its first win of the season over Newberry was 1935. This was then coach R.P. Wilder’s inaugural year as their head coach. The football stadium at Clinton is named in memory of Wilder.
Strickland said he knew Clinton had some good coaches and would not give up without a fight. At one point, Strickland recalled that he thought Clinton had gone 0-5 for a season before winning the next six games in a row.
“Let’s hope they don’t get better this week,” Strickland said.
Areas of emphasis
Newberry has not defeated Union and Clinton in the same season since 2002. They have never done it in consecutive weeks. The Bulldogs have defeated both the Yellow Jackets and the Red Devils at home during the 1950, 1962, and 1968 seasons.
In the four years that Strickland has been at Newberry, the Bulldogs have lost two games at home and two games away to Clinton.
Strickland said the team had their game plan in place this week for practices to play their best against Clinton, but that they would also be working hard to eliminate their mistakes made in the game against Union.
“We were fortunate with the amount of mistakes we made that we came out on top,” Strickland said.
Continuing this week’s practice, another area of emphasis Strickland said would need to be addressed was the hydration of the players. A problem Strickland said they have had is with cramps. The Bulldogs changed their kickoff time last Friday night from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to eliminate some of the heat, however Strickland said that will not occur any more this season.
“We weren’t in good shape and need to do a better job of hydrating,” Strickland said.
In South Carolina, Strickland said typically the first three to five games were going to be impacted by the high temperatures and that the players needed to do their part by drinking plenty of fluids several days prior to games.
Last week, wide receiver/defensive back Zy Towns was injured on the field, and Strickland said he will not return this season.
“Not only did he dislocate his ankle, but he broke it as well,” Strickland said.
Strickland said Towns had surgery over the weekend, and while the doctor said he would recover from the injury, he would be out for the season. Luckily, Towns is a junior and will be able to return next year.