ROCK HILL — The past couple of seasons have been anything but rosy for Rock Hill High Schools football program. But the Bearcats have an opportunity Friday night to bury the past when they host Dorman High School in the 2012 season opener for both teams.
Everybody wants to start off winning; were no different, said Rock Hill coach Joe Mongtomery, in his eighth season at the Bearcats helm and 20th as a head coach. It doesnt matter what the season was before. Were very glad to be playing Dorman, a ranked team, to show that were a good football team.
The Bearcats were 11-0 in the 2009 regular season but were surprised by No. 13 seed Spartanburg High School in the first round of the state playoffs. Rock Hill then unwittingly used an ineligible player in 2010, causing the team to forfeit its first three wins.
Last season, the Bearcats got into a fracas with local rivals South Pointe, putting both schools on a one-year probation that doesnt lapse until September and limited each team to just two scrimmages. Suffice to say, Montgomery is eager to look forward.
Dorman enters the 2012 season ranked ninth in the S.C. Prep Media Poll and just three years removed from a AAAA-DI state championship, the schools second. But the Cavaliers also took a step back last year, going 7-6 with a host of young players forced into action. While the attention in the Spartanburg area has shifted a bit toward Byrnes, Dorman is still a formidable foe for Rock Hill in Week One, according to Montgomery.
Theyre a good football team that brings back a lot of those players. Theres a reason youre 7-6, and theres a reason youre 5-6. They played a lot of young kids last year, just like we did. Theirs are back and ours are back, so the expectations are there on both sides.
Like many football contests, quarterback play will be crucial for both sides. Trey Robinson is a talented senior signal caller for the Cavaliers who got things rolling last year after a 0-3 start for Dorman, leading David Gutshalls team to seven wins in the last 10 games. Expect to see Rock Hill rotate quarterbacks Jamil Simpson and Josh Erby in a system the Bearcats have employed for about six years now.
Coaches say, Well, this quarterback throws and this quarterback runs, and what were able to do is were able to change that up, Montgomery explained, because both of them can run, and both of them can throw. It gives us an advantage.
Plus, the system doesnt rely on the performance of just one kid, meaning theres always another one standing next to the coach capable and ready to go. Bad night for one? Play the other.
Offensively, Montgomery added, you have to have two quarterbacks and two tailbacks, because of the physical part of the game.
Rock Hill will need good quarterback play to find a talented and physically gifted group of receivers. Jaleel Scott and Jamel Jones, are 6-foot-5 wide receivers, while Tre Thompson, the slot man, works underneath in the vacancies created by the taller two. Theyll be looking to take advantage of a shorter and less experienced Dorman defensive backfield, which returns just one starter.
Adding to the games intrigue is a genuine lack of intel about the two sides. Montgomery thinks the lack of insight will force the cream to rise to the top.
What theyre trying to do and accomplish offensively and defensively, its hard to tell because its so early. They had a scrimmage rained out, and we only had two scrimmages and a jamboree, so thats not a lot to chart. Theyre searching for an identity and Rock Hill is searching for one. Weve got to find out whos gonna make plays, and theyre in the same boat.
The Bearcats were 112-44 from 2000 to 2009, winning four regional championships and state titles in 2002 and 2004 under Jim Ringer. Rock Hill is only 11-12 the past two years, but has won the past four season openers, a run theyll look to prolong 7:30 p.m. Friday night at District Three Stadium.
Bret McCormick 329-4032.