Riding the momentum of a come-from-behind 42-34 win against top-15 Sumter, the York Comprehensive High School football team travels to Irmo on Friday for game two of the 2014 season.
Kickoff against the Yellow Jackets will be 7:30 p.m.
YCHS head football coach Bobby Carroll, whose Cougars are ranked in the top five in the state high school 4A poll, has lots of respect for the Irmo football program.
The Yellow Jackets were state finalists in 2002, 2004 and 2006, and have been region champs more times than most, earning titles including 2006-09 and 2012. Irmo has been the 10th-winningest 4A team in the state the last 10 years, going 94-39 in that period.
Reggie Kennedy, who guided the Sumter Gamecocks to a Big 16 state-championship appearance last season, has brought excitement to the Yellow Jackets’ play in his first year as head coach.
“Irmo is a power running team,” Carroll said. “They run an Auburn-type offense. We will have our hands full Friday night.”
The game will be the Yellow Jackets’ regular-season opener. Irmo last played in an Aug. 21 scrimmage against Richland Northeast.
The Gamecocks rolled into York on Friday, and the Cougars trailed 34-21 in the early moments of the fourth quarter before rallying in dramatic fashion.
Cougars quarterback Deshaw Andrews became Sumter’s worst nightmare. Andrews completed a six-yard scoring pass to sophomore receiver Wally Wilmore to cap a 35-yard drive after a fumble, slicing the lead to 34-28.
A key play in the drive was an Andrews-to-Wally-Wilmore pass for a first down at the Sumter 14.
Andrews scored on a nine-yard keeper with 9:40 left in the game.
Buddy “Morten” Anderson, whose kickoffs out of the end zone kept the ball out of the hands of Sumter’s kick return specialists the entire game, booted the point after for a 35-34 York lead.
Andrews put the Cougars in the driver’s seat with a 27-yard touchdown run with 4:14 remaining in the game, capping a 74-yard drive and pushing the lead to 42-34.
While he had a monster game, Andrews was quick to give credit to his teammates.
“I made the reads but it was the offensive line-blocking that allowed me to make plays,” said Andrews. “The defense was great with the game on the line.”
Senior Cougar defensive end Ethan Whitesides had a huge tackle for loss, preventing Sumter from mounting a late-game scoring drive.
“Our defense stood tall when it had to,” said Whitesides, who stands 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. “We had a defensive stop that helped win the game.
“We have our first game behind us. We won and have game film to study and make corrections.”
Wilmore, a sophomore, contributed to the game on both sides of the ball. “I like playing all positions,” he said. “I use my speed when I get into space.”
Carroll said first-game turnovers and blown assignments are things the Cougars will work to overcome.
“We didn’t tackle well,” he said. “Our practices weren’t as physical this week due to extreme heat.”
Carroll said it’s early in the season and the coaches are looking for everything to mesh together. “We’re still looking to put the best 11 players on the field on both sides of the ball,” he said.
“I am proud of our kids for their resilience,” Carroll said of the Cougars’ come-from-behind effort against Sumter. “They never give up. We can correct the mistakes, but the effort has to be there Monday through Friday.”
“I want to thank our cheerleaders, band and fans for their support Friday night,” Carroll said.
The Cougars’ other scoring plays included three Andrews’ quarterback keepers and an 83-yard scoring toss to senior wideout Kyron Schrouder.
Sumter showed its big-play potential with quarterback James Barnes completing touchdown throws to Kyjon Tyler covering 58 yards and 79 yards.