York-Clover rivalry marks 100th gridiron clash

genegraham@comporium.netNovember 1, 2012 

— The storied York-Clover football rivalry, one of the oldest high school gridiron rivalry in the Palmetto State, reaches a milestone when the Cougars and Blue Eagles lock horns Friday night. Friday's game, slated for 7:30 p.m. at the York Comprehensive High School stadium, will represent the 100th meeting of the western York County rivals.

The storied York-Clover football rivalry, one of the oldest, if not the oldest high school gridiron rivalry in the Palmetto State, reaches a coveted milestone when the Cougars and Blue Eagles lock horns Friday night.

Friday's game, slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at the York Comprehensive High School stadium, will represent the 100th meeting of the western York County rivals.

Pictured are the 1912 Capital Lads of Yorkville, the York football team's name in the early years. Players include, in no particular order: Dare White, captain; J. Harvey Witherspoon, manager; Berry, Garrison, B. Plaxico, O. Plaxico, Thomas, Quinn, L. Grist, C. Grist, Riddle, T. Moore, and White. Substitutes in 1912 were W. Moore, Hartness, Rose, J. Moore, R. Finely and S. Finely. The two Grist players were likely the sons of Yorkville Enquirer publilsher John Grist, a prominent journalist in that era. The Yorkville Lads battled Rock Hill to a 12-12 tie 100 years ago at Rock Hill's Hampton Park. Admission was 15 cents.

Documented research conducted by 1970 York High School grad Frank Flanagan reveals that York began playing football in 1912, the year the Titanic went down in the Atlantic.

Flanagan's research shows that Clover ventured into organized football 11 years later in the fall of 1923.

Though York is in its 100th year of football and Clover it's 89th, Friday's showdown before an overflow crowd will represent the 100th game of the rivalry because the teams played twice in the early years.

Validating the 100th game of the rivalry is a 1952 headline at the top of the page in the Evening Herald that reads: York-Clover's 40th meeting Friday.

The teams played twice in the 20's and 30's, making 1952 the 40th game. Applying simple math 60 years later shows that Friday's game is the 100th.

York Comprehensive High School athletic director Steve Boyd knows a thing or two about the storied rivalry. Boyd, a York native and Shrine Bowl participant, coached and played in the annual York-Clover skirmish.

“It's a special rivalry between two communities that are eight miles apart,” said Boyd. “Many of the players and fans know each other.”

Boyd added that there are marriages that split York-Clover loyalties.

“It is one of the oldest rivalries in the state and the 100th game has been documented,” he said. “The York-Clover game draws the biggest crowd of the year, whether it's football, basketball, baseball or whatever the sport.”

Carroll Hester, the athletic director at Clover High School, has developed an appreciation of the rivalry.

“Not many schools can talk about playing each other for the 100th time,” said Hester. “People need to understand the significance of this.

“It's real special to the communities.”

Said Hester, “The York-Clover game is what high school football is all about--the teams, bands, cheerleaders and fans bonding together for the annual rivalry.”

Available research taken from back issues of the Rock Hill Evening Herald, which is now referred to as The Herald, chronicles the York-Clover rivalry from 1941 to present day.

Scores of several York-Clover games prior to 1941 have been discovered through continuous research.

The teams played twice in 1928, with Clover defeating York 20-0 at York and the Green Dragons prevailing 6-0 in Blue Eagle Country.

York defeated Clover 13-7 in 1938 and Clover got revenge with a 7-0 win in 1940.

While York has been the dominant team in rivalry since 1941, Clover won five in a row from the second meeting in 1944 through the 1948 game.

The Blue Eagles went on another five-game tear from 2006-2010, with a state championship under Jet Turner sandwiched between.

Breaking down the rivalry by decades, the Blue Eagles had five wins, four losses and a tie in the 1940's.

The Green Dragons held the upper hand in the '50s with a 7-2-1 advantage and the '60s with eight wins and two losses.

The 1970's were the most productive years of the rivalry for York with a 10-0 slate.

The Cougars prevailed 7-3 in the rivalry in decade of the '80s, including a state championship run in 1986 under coach Bill Pate.

York held an 8-2 advantage in the rivalry in the 1990's.

The Blue Eagles became a force in the first decade of the 21st century, winning eight of the 10 games played.

The teams are 1-1 in this decade, with the Blue Eagles winning at York in 2010 and the Cougars prevailing at Memorial Stadium last season.

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