High school football spring scrimmages get underway Thursday night in York County when the Rock Hill Bearcats and York Comprehensive Cougars hold intersquad scrimmages at their respective stadiums. The games wrap up two weeks of practice that go some way in laying bare the holes that teams have to fill before competitive play begins in earnest in August.
Veteran Rock Hill head coach Joe Montgomery said his goals during spring football practice are simple: “Find out who the 11 are on defense who can hit, and then go put them where they can play. On the offensive side of the ball, you’ve got to find the people that make plays, whether that’s at running back, wide receiver, quarterback or offensive line… people that make plays.”
Considering the Bearcats’ defensive leakiness last fall, Montgomery said every position on that side of the ball is open, as are many on the scoring side.
“Every position was wide open when we started spring football,” he said Wednesday before practice. “It’s been very competitive.”
Montgomery has added former Northwestern assistant Bubba Pittman to his staff this spring as an offensive coordinator. Pittman brings Air Raid principles over from Northwestern, which should fit in well with Rock Hill’s pass-heavy offense. Montgomery has been thrilled with Pittman’s contribution thus far.
“He’s added some of his own twist to it,” Montgomery said, referring to the Air Raid offense. “Very positive, very enthusiastic; I love watching him coach.”
Starters lost: 6 offense, 7 defense
Leaving in June: The Bearcats graduate a number of heavy contributors on offense, including starters at quarterback (Josh Erby), running back (Jonathon Adams) and receiver (Tre Thompson, Jaleel Scott and Jamel Jones).
Back in August: Montgomery said pretty much every skill position needs to be filled, except for the inside slot receivers – Jamil Simpson, Chris Salerno and Jau’quan Feaster all return. Those guys, and their short yardage routes, will be critical for helping whoever wins the Bearcats’ starting quarterback spot. Montgomery said he likes what he’s seen from the two challengers, Dylan Jones and Brandon Banks, during the past two weeks, and he added that Donnell Williams is a rising junior who has impressed at outside linebacker.
Cougar coach Bobby Carroll hates the term “rebuilding year,” calling it a “cop-out.” York’s coach could be forgiven for using that term once his team graduates nine defensive starters and five offensive starters, all talented contributors, in a couple of weeks. But Carroll maintains that if his program is where he thinks it is, then he already has the players to fill the voids.
“If your program works like it’s supposed to, you ought to lose starters every year,” he said. “You want to start seniors as much as you can, and this year we might have a couple of 10th graders starting on varsity… but if you’ve got you a good program you just keep going.”
Carroll had 140 players turn out for the two weeks of practice and expects about 70 more freshmen to show up in the fall, giving him plenty of options to choose from as he looks to replace a senior class that put York football back in the conversation.
Starters lost: 5 offense, 9 defense
Leaving in June: The Cougars will graduate a slew of playmakers on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense. Linebackers Lee Wright and Rominique Mobley, safety Chad Hill, cornerback Jiquese Brown and defensive lineman Beau Nunn all will play college football next season, as will a number of other York seniors. Replacing their collective playmaking ability, but also their toughness and brashness, will take time.
Back in August: 2012 starting quarterback Spencer Carroll also departs, but his absence is lessened by the return of workhorse running back Ryan Moore. The stout junior ball carrier is getting recruiting interest from a load of FBS and FCS colleges that currently numbers over 20, and should ease the weight on whoever wins the QB job this fall.
Carroll also noted that his offensive line will be much bigger than in years past, despite a few defections from graduation.
“We’ve got some big kids in there that have been great in the offseason,” he said, “and hopefully will man up for us.”
Rising senior Jerome Pettiway and rising junior Deshaw Andrews are battling for the starting quarterback job to replace Spencer Carroll, and will have returning receiving targets to find, including Markel Castle and Daurice Simpson.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T