ROCK HILL — Strait Herron played for Bobby Carroll at Northwestern, coached there with him and moved from Clover to South Pointe when Carroll came calling during the Stallions' first varsity season in 2006.
Carroll left last year and returned home to York to coach where he played football. Herron was promoted and got his first shot at a head-coaching job.
There were questions and whispers from all corners of the town. Could Herron keep the ball rolling? He helped Carroll take the Stallions to a pair of state championship games. They won in 2008 in only their third year of varsity football. They went back last year and lost.
So how is Herron's report card looking? Pretty dang good. Give him an A. Add a plus sign if his team wins Friday.
The Stallions are 8-1 and ranked third in this week's state prep writers poll. And that's after losing three players to South Carolina, including the nation's No. 1 recruit last year, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. This year's team is not as big, size-wise, as last year's. The offensive and defensive lines had to be rebuilt and Herron had to shore up his linebackers. But this team has speed and rivals the kind of quickness of the Rock Hill teams.
In quarterback Devin Pearson, and dual players Tay Hicklin, Corey Neely and Montay Crockett, South Pointe has a fleet of smallish players who can hit like a ton of bricks and outrun you if you get into a footrace with them.
"Strait has done a great job continuing the program," Carroll said. "He had some good talent coming back, but he filled some big holes with good players. I'm proud of him. Seems like I've been with him all my life."
But this is not a story about Herron. Neither is it one about Carroll. Give either credit and they will say it's about the kids and how they perform.
This is a story about South Pointe and York, teams on a collision course Friday at District Three South Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Before Carroll returned home and surrounded himself with a veteran coaching staff, the Cougars had not had a winning season since 2006. This year they are 7-2 and a win Friday would flip last year's record to 8-2. Best of all, to the winner goes the Region 4-AAA title and the potential of at least two home playoff games. The loser is assured a first-round home game.
Carroll's team is powered by tailback Lee Wright and quarterback Spencer Carroll, the coach's son and another reason he returned home.
But, there's plenty more contributing to the Cougars getting back near the top. Corey Dover is a multi-purpose player and can line up in several skill positions. Andre Foulks is as fine of a nose guard you'd ever hope to find. Linebacker Ty Currence is a sledge hammer. And Matt Bostic, who doubles as kicker and wide receiver, has pulled York out of some jams with his strong leg.
Who would have guessed it work out this way? There was talk, but you know how talk goes. But it's here and it should be a heck of a game. And it will be emotional.
"I'll be across the field from players and coaches I have a lot of feelings for," Carroll said. "It's kind of bittersweet, but there are times when you have to move on. But that still doesn't make it easy."
THE JET: It's been quite some time since a running back led the area in yards gained.
Thanks to Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson and his high-powered "Air Raid" passing attack, that went to his quarterbacks the past five seasons. It began with Will King in 2007 and ended with three years of Justin Worley breaking every state passing record last year. Worley is a freshman at Tennessee and has been named Saturday's starting quarterback against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Closer to home, Indian Land running back/quarterback Rondreas Truesdale is quietly having one of the best seasons ever by a local running back. He's listed as a quarterback but lines up in the Wildcat formation. Most folks around here saw it for the first time when Jim Ringer coached the Rock Hill Bearcats to state championships in 2002 and 2004.
In the formation, a running back lines up in a shotgun formation and takes a direct snap. Then it's off to the races, maybe a pass every now and then, depending on where he spots the nearest open hole.
The offense fits Truesdale, a state sprint champion, like a winter coat. So much so that he still wears No. 30, his running back number.
Truesdale has carried 186 times for 2,202 and 31 touchdowns. That's an average of 11.8 yards per carry. He averages are 222 yards and 3.4 touchdowns per game. And he has at least two games left, the regular-season finale Friday and the first round of the Class AA playoffs.
Indian Land coach Mike Mayer calls Truesdale one of the best he's seen or coached but is not pleased with the knock college coaches had put on him.
"He's 5-foot-9 and coaches want their running backs to be taller," Mayer said. "But size is not a setback for Rondreas. He can do anything he puts his mind to, and I believe he could play anywhere."
Truesdale is strong, too. He's a defending state champion in wrestling.
FANS POWER POLL : This week's power poll ranking the 13 teams covered by The Herald.
There were four voters again this week. Folks, if it drops lower than that, then it's history. So join in! Take the 13 teams and rank them from No. 1 to No. 13. The list will run here every week as long as there are at least three voters.
Email your ballot after Friday's games so we can get them totaled.
This week's poll
(Order based on points for place of ranking)
1. South Pointe 51; 2. (tie) Northwestern, York 46; 4.Lancaster 37; 5. Nation Ford 35; 6. Rock Hill, Chester 29; 8. Indian Land 26; 9. Fort Mill 23; 10. (tie) Lewisville, Great Falls 13; 12. Clover 10; 13. Westminster Catawba 6.
PREP POL L: The S.C. Prep Media Poll is conducted by The State with voting from Ben Breiner, Greenwood Index-Journal; Barry Byers, Rock Hill Herald; Bob Castello, Greenville News; Chris Dearing, The State; Ian Guerin, Myrtle Beach Sun News; Cam Huffman, Aiken Standard; Justin Jarrett, The Island Packet; Kevin Melton, Spartanburg Herald Journal; Akilah Nelson, The State and Adam Regan, Anderson Independent Mail.
1. Gaffney (1); 2. Lexington (2); 3. Goose Creek (3); 4. Greenwood (4); 5. North Augusta (5); 6. Byrnes (6); 7. Dutch Fork (7); 8. Boiling Springs (9); 9. Spartanburg (8); 10. Easley (NR)
1. Bluffton (1); 2. Myrtle Beach (2); 3. South Pointe (3); 4. A.C. Flora (6); 5. Daniel (5); 6. Greer (9); 7. Airport (8); 8. Hartsville (4); 9. Marlboro County (NR); 10. York (NR)
1. Dillon 1; 2. Strom Thurmond 2; 3. Woodruff 3; 4. Bishop England (8); 5. Central 5; 6. Timberland 4; 7. Swansea (NR); 8. Columbia (NR); 9. Loris (6); 10. Cheraw (10)
1. Hemingway (1); 2. Abbeville (2); 3. Chesterfield (3); 4. Williston Elko (6); 5. Allendale-Fairfax (NR); 6. Bamberg-Ehrhardt (4); 7. Landrum (9); 8. Johnsonville (10); 9. Calhoun County (5); 10. Christ Church (8)
TRI COUNTY: The following is a list of award winners voted on by the Tri-County Football Coaches Association at its weekly meeting.
Offensive player: Mason Rudolph (Northwestern) 21-31 passing, 351 yards, 5 TDs. Honorable mention: Ryan Moore (Clover); Kedarrious Jackson (Lancaster); Jaleal Scott (Rock Hill); Montay Crockett (South Pointe); Lee Wright (York). Offensive line: (tie) Kyle Jordan (N) graded 90 percent, Jonathan Schave (RH) graded 90 percent, Mark Shirley (Y) graded 90 percent, 6 knockdowns. Honorable mention: Ben Strong (SP). Defensive player: Tyderrick Robinson (N) 14 tackles. Honorable mention Bishop Ashley (RH); Corey Neely (SP); Corey Dover (Y). Defensive line: Mitchell Jeter (RH) 11 tackles, 2 TFL, 1.5 sacks. Honorable mention: Reubyn Walker (N); Malik Jamerson (SP); Hakeem Sherer (Y). Special teams: Matt Bostic (Y) 4-5 PATs, 30-yard FG, 34-yard average on 4 punts, 7 Sky Kickoffs for only 3 yards returned. Honorable mention: John David Raad.(RH); Montay Crockett (SP).
Offensive player: Rondreas Truesdale (Indian Land) 24 carries, 303 yards, 5 TDs, 5-16 passing, 50 yards. Honorable mention: KJ Dixon (Chester); Laquavion Walls (Lewisville). Offensive line: Larry King (LW) 96 percent, 2 pancakes. Honorable mention: Tari Brown (IL). Defensive player: LarVenski Gaither (LW) 14 tackles, 2 caused fumbles. Honorable mention: DJ Moore (IL). Defensive line: Justin Douglas (LW) 13 tackles, 3 TFL. Honorable mention: Siterrious Coleman CH); Marc Morris (IL). Special teams: Shawn Washington (IL) recovered onside kick, scored 2-point conversion, 2 tackles on special teams. Honorable mention: Tyler Denkins (Andrew Jackson); Myah Walls (LW).
Barry Byers 329-4099 firstname.lastname@example.org