That’s what Easley High earned Friday night on the gridiron after thrashing Pickens in a 40-7 victory to open the season.
“Any time you open a season with a win, it doesn’t matter who it is, it’s good,” said Easley Head Coach Chad Smith. “Beating Pickens does make it a little sweeter. This one is special to me because I grew up in it, but at the same time it’s no different than any other week.”
The Green Wave struck first in the contest, as CJ Fuller found his way to the end zone for the first time of the season to open the game. A two-point conversion made it an 8-0 game heading in the second quarter.
A long drive by Easley shortly after resulted in Troy McGowens’ first touchdown of the year. Fuller then reeled off a 32-yard touchdown to give Easley a 20-0 lead at the half.
Missed opportunities and turnovers were the story of the second half for Pickens. A few big runs by Austin Clark got Pickens inside the 10-yard line, but the Blue Flame missed a field goal that would have gotten them on the board. McGowens then busted a 58-yard touchdown run for Easley, moving the score to 28-0.
“I couldn’t do it without my linemen,” said McGowens. “They give me opportunities to break big runs.”
The Green Wave defense then forced two consecutive fumbles resulting in touchdowns. Fuller and JR Crawford crossed the goal line for Easley, giving their team a 40-0 advantage in the fourth quarter.
Clark gave fans something to cheer about, however, as he managed to get Pickens on the board with 6:30 left in the game. The game ended with a scary moment, as Kelse Sumrell had to be carted off field in a stretcher after suffering a head injury. Smith says Sumrell was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital for treatment.
While it wasn’t a great ending for his team, Seaborn says he saw a fight attitude.
“The effort was there,” said Pickens head coach Chad Seaborn. “We got a little tired as the game wore on, and that’s something that we’re going to have to address. I can’t fault their effort. Early on we were stopping them on defense, but we gave up too many tackles, and when you do that against a team as fast as Easley it’s really going to hurt you.”
Smith says he felt like Pickens caused his team some problems early.
“I didn’t feel like we played that great in the first half,” said Smith. “Pickens came in with a great game plan and they tried to shut us down. Eventually we wore them down.”
The second half, however, was a different story.
“We played physical and did what we needed to do,” said Smith. “We’ve got a very tough one coming up next week so hopefully we’ll come out with that same intensity.”
Seaborn says his team will need to eliminate unforced errors in order to get better.
“We have to eliminate penalties and turnovers,” said Seaborn. “We’ll work on it and try to get better for next week.”
McGowens, who will likely be in the end zone a few more times this season, says this win gives his team confidence.
“It feels really great,” said McGowens. “It gives us confidence going forward. We went out there and executed tonight.”
Easley and Pickens may have been playing for a little more than just bragging rights. The two schools used this game to raise money for a local charity, and Smith says he couldn’t have been happier with the response from attendees.
“It was great,” said Smith. “Food Fight is an unbelievable charity. I just feel blessed to be apart of it.”
“It’s great for our community and this area,” said Seaborn. “We’re two teams that are great rivals, but to be able to help the people in this area, I was proud to be apart of it.”
The Green Wave will begin preparation for next week’s matchup with Daniel High in the coming days, and Smith says his team will have their hands full.
“Daniel is athletic and they are very fast,” said Smith. “To hear (Daniel head coach) Randy Robinson talk, they are dang near unbeatable. We hope we’ll be able to put a product on the field to compete with them.”
It may be early, but McGowens says he only has one goal in mind for Easley this season.
“I want to play for a state championship,” said McGowens. “I’m looking at nothing less than that. We just have to take it one day at a time.