A week ago, the South Pointe Stallions couldn’t engineer an upset against the Stratford Knights in the Class AAAA, Division II semifinals. On Saturday, the Trojans of Northwestern High will have a crack at the Knights in the state championship.
Whatever happens, the success of both South Pointe and Northwestern attest to the fact that Rock Hill continues to be a football powerhouse year after year.
The Stallions had a fantastic season despite losing their quarterback to marijuana charges late in the season. On Nov. 22, South Pointe knocked off the top-seeded and heavily favored Goose Creek to advance to the semifinals against Stratford. But that dream ended with a 36-13 win by the Knights.
If the Stallions had managed to keep the mojo going and beaten the Knights, it would have been an all-Rock Hill Class AAAA Division II state championship, Trojans vs. Stallions.
But local fans can take heart: The Trojans once again are contending for a state title.
The Trojans (14-0) crushed North Augusta in the semifinals a week ago. On Saturday, they travel to Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia to take on the Knights (12-2). And Northwestern will be thinking about earning the title it narrowly lost in overtime to Greenwood last year.
“We felt we left some stuff on the field there last year, and it’s been about finishing business,” said Northwestern Coach Kyle Richardson after last week’s victory.
The team looks strong going into Saturday’s championship game. Quarterback Mason Rudolph is a high-percentage passer but also a threat to run, with a team-high 15 rushing touchdowns this season.
But the Knights also must contend with running backs Julian Shockley and Dupree Hart. Shockley recently passed Rudolph as the teams leading rusher with 520 yards on just 74 attempts, and he ran for 100 yards in the playoff game against North Augusta. It was the sophomore’s third game in a row to gain 100 yards or more.
Without a doubt, the Trojans will be looking for redemption after last year’s heart-breaker. And they clearly have the team to bring that about.
Thousands of fans will be watching or listening to the game and hoping things break Northwestern’s way. It’s a big day for the entire community.
Good luck, and whatever happens, this was a remarkable football season for Rock Hill teams.