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In Focus: Winning provides glimmer of hope longtime missing

By John Clayton, Staff Reporter
Published on Thursday, September 13, 2012

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John Clayton

John Clayton

Finally.

Riverside football won this past Friday night after more than a year.

And head coach Steve Eoute wanted to tell the world – or at least the Upstate – but there were no microphones waiting after the Warriors beat Woodmont this past Friday night.

Not a single guy holding a notebook waited to catch Eoute at midfield.

“We lose to Eastside, there’s two reporters waiting. We lose the next week and there are three waiting,” Eoute said. “Last week, nobody. I was looking for somebody to interview me.”

Riverside beat neighborhood rival Eastside in the opening game of 2011 and lost 11 straight games until beating Woodmont, which shares the same Class 4A woes as Riverside. The Wildcats are 2-33 in their last 35 games. Riverside is 4-21 since 2009.

When 2-32 meets 3-21, well, you end up looking for someone to interview you after the game.

The Warriors are competitive in other sports in Class 4A, but Eoute has had a monumental battle to make his football team a factor in what is perhaps the toughest 4A conference in the state, Region II-4A.

One win doesn’t make the uphill climb Eoute and his team faces any easier, but suddenly the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem like an oncoming train speeding head-on to flatten Wile E. Coyote.

“It was special to see the beginning of something – to see the support,” Eoute said. “There was a change, not just in the team, but in the school. The kids didn’t want to leave the field. They wanted to be a part of it because they were. The game itself was a total victory for everybody at Riverside.”

And Eoute knows exactly how far between those have been over the past agonizing year.

It’d be easy to blame a head coach, but truth is, Riverside’s bad luck has much more to do with population than football.

The school grew to Class 4A size, but an influx of football talent hasn’t followed the rest of the student population – at least not compared to traditional Region II powerhouses Byrnes, Dorman, Gaffney and Spartanburg.

There is considerable ground to make up. Eoute knows it.

And so do the Riverside fans Eoute praised for their support through the tough times.

“That means a lot to you,” he said. “It gives you hope and shows that you can do more in life than just win football games.”

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