When the weather starts cooling and the games begin to grow in stature, thats when high school football coaches have to get their best players on the field as often as possible. Fridays meeting of unbeatens York and Northwestern will strengthen that theory to some degree.
As if Kyle Richardsons team needed more offensive weapons, the Trojans (8-0, 4-0 in Region 3) have slowly but surely been working defensive backs Jaquavious Mackey and Corey Seargent into the offensive game plan. Each has made a catch or two the last two weeks. It makes sense for Richardson to try and get the ball in the hands of a pair of athletes with 4.4 speed that already make impacts in the return game.
York (8-0, 4-0) has made some personnel moves in the opposite direction. Bobby Carrolls defense was tasked with replacing nine starters after last season, and the growing pains for an inexperienced bunch have been evident. Thats why at halftime of last weeks win over Nation Ford, Carroll began to play speedy wide receivers Markel Castle and Daurice Simpson on both sides of the ball. The pair lined up opposite one another at cornerback on a number of snaps and were significant contributors to the Cougars second half shutout of the Falcons, which turned a 31-24 game into a 66-24 shellacking.
Castle, a senior, and Simpson, a junior, combined for five pass break-ups in the third and fourth quarters, and their abilities in the secondary are as obvious as their natural pass-catching knacks. Carroll said Wednesday that he has complete faith in the pair, especially Simpson who as a freshman started at defensive back for York during the 2011 Upper State championship game against South Pointe. The two have combined to catch 77 passes for well over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, but it may well be the passes they break up on Friday night that have a bigger impact on the outcome of the game.
Five questions with Rock Hills Ben Demarest
I was watching a year-old Saturday Night Live the other night and it had me laughing because when I was you guys age, I hated Justin Timberlake. Now, I actually kind of like him; hes actually pretty funny and hes a decent actor. A guy Im wondering if hes gonna be like that is (Justin) Bieber. What do guys your age think about Bieber?
Bieber, I guess hes more of a singer icon. I dont think many guys talk about him like Justin Timberlake. Maybe nobody likes him right now, but he might end up something like that.
What are your personal thoughts about Bieber?
Im not a real fan of Bieber. I only know, like, two songs. Im not a real big fan.
You guys got anybody on the team thats got like a Bieber personality?
Cameron Bell, another defensive lineman; he likes to joke around a lot and hes got a big personality.
The Bieber of the d-line?
You guys, the defensive line, have a tough responsibility on Friday going against a really good quarterback at Nation Ford. Whats going to be key for you guys? Because thats a big game in the playoff race...
For me personally, with the defensive line, we just have to keep the quarterback contained. We cant let him get out and scramble a lot, but then the secondary really has to shut him down and play physical with the receivers.
How much are you guys talking about a possible playoff spot and is that something thats really pushing you guys?
Definitely, we really want to win this game and then we want to win Lancaster so we dont end up with maybe a 15 or 16 seed to play a really good team first. Its really important for us to win the next two games, and were looking forward to Northwestern.
Visit Heraldonline.com to see the full video interview with Ben Demarest.
Northwestern girls picked to win Region 3; Yarborough preseason Player of the Year
Nation Ford senior Taylor Yarborough was chosen as Region 3s preseason Player of the Year at the leagues meeting two weeks ago. Phoebe Johnson (Lancaster), Aubriana Thompson (Northwestern), Asia Potts (Rock Hill), Carrie Lee Lancaster (York), Elizabeth Edmunds (Clover), Madison Hendrix (Fort Mill), Paige Samuelson (Northwestern), Audrianna Grevious (Fort Mill) and Teliya Patton (Clover) joined on the preseason All-Region team. Northwestern won the region last winter and John Bramletts team was the preseason favorite this time around again.
Girls Region 3 preseason poll
1. Northwestern; 2. Lancaster; 3. Nation Ford; 4. Rock Hill; 5. Clover; 6. South Pointe; 7. Fort Mill; 8. York
Rock Hill clinches No. 1 seed from Region 3
Rock Hills 3-0 sweep of Lancaster Tuesday evening gave the Bearcats (32-8) the Region 3 regular season volleyball title. Cindy Elders team will celebrate the victory Thursday night against Northwestern in a largely meaningless match, at least with regards to the standings. The Bearcats No. 1 seed from Region 3 will pit them against Region 2s No. 4 seed, currently Gaffney, when the Class AAAA volleyball state playoffs commence next Tuesday. Should the Bearcats reach the second round they would face the winner of the first round pairing of Region 1s No. 3 seed and Region 4s No. 2.
Late scores from Tuesday
Rock Hill 3, Lancaster 0
The Rock Hill Bearcats won all three games and defeated the Lancaster Bruins in a Region 3-AAAA match-up.
The win for Coach Cindy Elders seventh-ranked Bearcats locked up the regular season region title with one contest remaining on Thursday night.
Scores: 25-11, 25-15, 25-13
Leading players - Rock Hill: Emily Russell - 12 kills, 4 aces; Gracie Barnes - 9 kills.
Nation Ford 3, Clover 0
The Nation Ford Falcons won all three games and defeated the Clover Blue Eagles in a Region 3-AAAA match.
Scores: 25-15, 25-22, 25-16
Northwestern 3, York 0
The Northwestern Trojans won all three games and defeated the York Cougars in Region 3-AAAA action.
Scores: 25-12, 25-10, 25-13
Leading players - Northwestern: Corey Mikels - 5 kills, 3 aces.
Fort Mill 3, South Pointe 2
The Fort Mill Yellow Jackets won the fifth and deciding game 15-12 and toppled the South Pointe Stallions in Region 3-AAAA action.
Scores: 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 25-27, 15-12
Leading players - Fort Mill: Liza Walker - 15 kills, 18 digs, 6 blocks; Payton Carter - 12 kills, 16 digs; Alex Morrison - 8 kills, 6 blocks; Tessa Grubbs - 7 kills; Jessie Newman - 36 assists; Gabby Seymore - 28 digs; Danielle Gibson - 16 digs, 8 aces.
Rock Hill 2, Lancaster 0
Nation Ford 2, Clover 1
Fort Mill 2, South Pointe 0
9th Grade Volleyball
Nation Ford 2, Clover 0
Fort Mill 2, South Pointe 0
Fort Mill 4, Northwestern 2
The Fort Mill Yellow Jackets won three singles matches and one doubles match and topped the Northwestern Trojans in a Region 3-AAAA match.
The win secured third place in the region for Fort Mill. The Yellow Jackets finished the regular season with a 13-4 mark and await next weeks playoffs.
No. 1 - Rachel Brooks lost 6-4, 6-4; No. 2 - Reagan Paff won 6-3, 7-5; No. 3 - Ellie Prain lost 6-0, 6-1; No. 4 - Jessica Zahn won 6-1, 6-0; No. 5 - Matea Milojkovic won 6-0, 6-1.
No. 2 - Mya Reeves and Jamie Davis won 6-2, 6-4.