Riding the momentum of a fifth win last week, the York Comprehensive High School football team faces a dangerous Rock Hill team Friday night.
The game will begin 7:30 p.m. in Rock Hill’s 10,000-seat District Three Stadium.
The unbeaten Cougars, ranked No. 2 in 4A in last week’s South Carolina Writers Poll, defeated No. 10-ranked Boiling Springs 43-34 last week, with the Bulldogs scoring late to keep the final outcome within single digits, at nine.
Meanwhile, the Bearcats raised more than a few eyebrows by pounding highly-regarded Sumter 41-14 on the road.
Never miss a local story.
“Rock Hill is 100 percent better than last year,” said Cougars head coach Bobby Carroll after Friday’s game. “They played well against an outstanding team tonight when they beat Sumter.”
Carroll said the Cougars will work hard to establish a game plan for the Region 3-AAAA opener against the emerging Bearcats.
“Region play is a whole new season,” he said. “We know we’ll have our hands full against Rock Hill.”
The Bearcats are playing with renewed confidence and swagger under first-year head coach Bobby Pittman, who returned to his alma mater to restore the Rock Hill program.
Sumter coaches and players will attest to the Bearcats’ elevated performance with their “Air Attack” offense.
Rock Hill quarterback Brandon Banks became Sumter’s worst nightmare, with 256 yards passing and five touchdowns; he tacked on a rushing score for good measure.
Banks had two touchdown passes to teammate John McCullough, with Deshaun McFadden hauling in three scoring catches.
The Bearcats built a 34-0 lead before the Gamecocks were able to get on the scoreboard.
Though the host Cougars withstood the challenge of a strong Boiling Springs team, Carroll said, he is seeking improvement on defense, primarily against the pass.
“We were disappointed in our defensive play,” Carroll said after the game. “I didn’t have them ready. That’s on Bobby Carroll.”
Carroll praised the offense, however, which has been productive throughout the season.
“Our offense played well, and the offensive line did a good job,” said Carroll. “Deshaw had another good game.”
The Cougars got on the board first on a three-yard run by Wally Wilmore. When the two-point attempt failed, the Cougars led 6-0.
Boiling Springs answered with 38 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Cougars scored with 9:13 remaining in the second quarter on a 19-yard pass from Andrews to Kyron Schrouder.
Andrews’ movement in the pocket allowed Schrouder time to gain separation. The senior quarterback also found Schrouder open for the two-point conversion.
After a five-yard run by Thomas Wilkerson put the Cougars up 20-14, another Andrews-to-Schrouder scoring pass, this one covering 23 yards, sent York to the locker room with a 26-14 advantage.
Andrews scored on a two-yard run and Buddy “Morten” Anderson booted a 33-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Wilmore had a six-yard scoring run with 11:01 left in the fourth quarter, staking the Cougars to a 43-20 lead.
Boiling Springs scored two late touchdowns, with quarterback Drew Johnson completing a 22-yard scoring pass to Jason Hill with 23 seconds left for the final score.
After the game, Andrews emphasized the importance of Friday’s region opener.
“The key is to keep doing what we’re doing offensively,” said Andrews. “The region games mean a lot more than the games we’ve played so far.”
Senior right guard Josh Moss agreed: “Region play is a new season. It determines the playoff seedings. We have to keep working every practice, every down. This has to be the mindset.”
Anderson, whose field-goal range and out-of-the-end zone kickoffs have become weapons, said he recognizes the significance of region play.
“I’m ready when called on for a field goal,” said Anderson, who developed more leg strength at summer camp participation.
Sophomore Danny Warren, a 5-11, 230-pound starter at left tackle, helps anchor the offensive line. “It’s a good achievement to be an offensive line starter as a sophomore,” he said. “I have to work hard to keep my position.
“I know there are teammates working hard to earn a starting position.”
“We may not get much credit, but in our hearts we know we can get it done,” Warren said of the offensive line’s role in the team’s success.