EASLEY — Last fall Easley under new coach Chad Smith the Green Wave made their first trip to the playoffs since 2000, when Easley finished the season 5-7 with a loss to Richland North East in the first round. Easley won a playoff game for the first time since the 1997 team made it to the Upstate finals before losing to Hartsville. The team’s 9 wins was the best since the 97 team finished the year 12-2.
So what does Easley do for an encore? Things could get tough this year, as the team had seven home games last season and finished the year with a 7-0 record at home. This year, however, Easley will be on the road 7 of the 11 weeks.
The South Carolina High School league released schedules last week, although most fans already knew the schedule would simply be a copy of last year’s with the sites reversed.
Easley opens the season at West-Oak Aug. 19. Last year’s meeting was the first time the two high school had ever met on the football field, so this will be the first time Easley has ever played at West-Oak High School.
Easley won last year’s meeting 33-13, breaking a 7-game losing streak that carried over from the previous season. The Green Wave had won only one game in its last 29 contests coming into the season.
The next week, on Aug. 26, Easley will play the first game in the new Daniel stadium. Due to construction last year, Daniel was left without a home football field. The Lions played 8 games away, then used Easley’s Brice Field for their only two home games. Daniel now has eight home games this season, and open the field with a game against Easley.
Last year Easley upset Daniel 6-0. Daniel lost its first two games of the season, then came back to win four straight. The Lions lost two more, but then won the final two games of the regular season to earn a spot in the playoffs. Daniel defeated Clinton on the road in the first round of the playoffs, but fell to Southpointe 20-13 in the second round of the playoffs.
Easley’s win over Daniel was the Green Wave’s first since the 1997 team defeated the Lions 27-9.
Easley will finally open its home season in week 3 as they host the Pickens Blue Flame. Last year Pickens gave Smith his first loss as the Green Wave coach with a 27-13 defeat/ It was a bitter pill for Smith to swallow, as he had played for Pickens when he was in high school. It was Pickens third straight win over the Green Wave. Easley had a four-game-winning streak in the series coming into the 2008 season, when Pickens won 48-36.
Pickens opened last season with a 4-0 record, but lost three of their five games in Western AAA play. Pickens fell to Union County in the first round of the AAA playoffs, losing 42-16 to end up with a 6-5 record for the season
The next week Easley will be back on the road against Riverside. Last year the Green Wave defeated Riverside 45-14.
Easley and Riverside had played four years earlier in the decade, with Easley winning in 2004, 2005 and 2006, but falling to Riverside in 2007.
The next week Easley opens play in Region 1-AAAA at home against Greenwood. Last year Greenwood stunned Easley 38-7, the worst loss of the season until falling 49-0 to Goose Creek in the playoffs. Having the Eagles on Brice Field could help, but Greenwood has dominated the series pretty much wherever the game has been played. The last time Easley won was in 1997, when the Green Wave topped the Eagles 34-8. Since then, the Eagles have won 13 consecutive years.
Greenwood won the Region 1-AAAA title again last season, finishing the regular season with only one loss. The Eagles finally fell to Northwestern 42-10 in the state championship game.
The next week Easley plays it final game outside the conference, traveling to Simpsonville to face Hillcrest. The Rams suffered through a 2-9 season last year, including a 77-7 loss to Byrnes.
And Easley used to be rivals in Region 1-AAAA, before Hillcrest moved to Region II. From 1980-2001, the teams played every year, with Easley winning 9 times.
The next week Easley returns home to face Hanna. The Yellow Jackets gave Easley its final loss of the regular season, winning 14-3 against the Green Wave. It was Hanna’s fifth straight win against the Green Wave. Easley last topped Hanna in 2005, winning 24-17.
The Yellow Jackets lost in the second round of the state playoffs last year to North Augusta, 28-21. Hanna finished the year with a 7-5 record.
The next week Easley host Laurens, a team the Green Wave has had a strong, although one-sided, rivalry with. Last year Easley defeated the Raiders for the first time since 2005. But the Green Wave and the Raiders have had some classic games, with Laurens usually coming out on top.
Last year Laurens rebounded from its loss to Easley with a 14-7 win over Wren. The Raiders fell to Region champions Greenwood in the final game of the regular season, but still earned a spot in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Laurens had to play Greenwood again in the first round of the playoffs and made an early exit.
The Laurens game will be Easley’s final home of the regular season. But Coach Smith is banking on the Green Wave winning enough games to host a playoff game.
Easley plays at Woodmont in the 10th game of the season. Woodmont had a difficult introduction for AAAA ball last season, finishing 0-11. The Wildcats moved quickly from the AA level to the AAAA level, and had trouble adjusting.
Easley won last year’s game 49-0.
Easley travels to Wren for the final game of the regular season. Last year Easley ended a 5-game losing streak to Wren with a 30-20 win.
It was an uneven year for the Hurricanes who came into the season as the defending Region 1-AAAA champions. Wren opened the season with a 35-20 loss to Palmetto. The Hurricanes won three straight games before losing to Greenwood 59-21. Wren defeated Westside, Hanna and Woodmont, but lost the final two games of the season to Laurens and Easley, finishing fourth in the conference. Wren then lost in the first round of the playoffs to South Florence.
Aug. 19 at West-Oak
Aug. 26 at Daniel
Sept. 9 PICKENS
Sept. 16 at Riverside
Sept. 30 GREENWOOD
Oct. 7 at Hillcrest
Oct. 14 HANNA
Oct. 21 LAURENS
Oct. 28 at Woodmont
Nov. 4 at Wren
Editor's note: This is the first of five articles previewing the high schoool football schedules this year. Be sure to check tomorrow for a look at the season for the Wren Hurricanes,