Seeking to rebound from last week’s 36-7 loss to region leader Northwestern, the York Comprehensive High School football team shifts its focus to tradition-rich Gaffney Friday night.
The Cougars and the Indians square off 7:30 p.m. at The Reservation, perhaps the most iconic high school football stadium in the Palmetto State.
While the Cougars were battling the Trojans on a soggy field in York Friday, the Gaffney Indians beat the Rock Hill Bearcats 12-3 in similar weather conditions.
“Gaffney’s a very good football team,” said YCHS head football coach Bobby Carroll. “They run the spread offense with four or five players back from last year. They can run the football.”
Added Carroll: “When that quarterback is on, they can throw it as well as anybody.”
He looks for the Cougars to have a positive mindset when they enter The Reservation.
“I think these kids are extremely resilient,” said Carroll. “I think they’ll come out and play hard for us this week and play hard for the people of York. You’ve got to bounce back from losses. Our kids will after get it. Our coaching staff will get after it.”
There were fumbles galore in the Rock Hill-Gaffney clash, including seven such miscues in the first half.
The first half saw the Bearcats leave the pigskin on the ground four times, losing three of the fumbles to the opposition.
Meanwhile, the Indians coughed up three fumbles in the half, including two on consecutive snaps, the second landing in the hands of a Bearcat defender.
There was no reluctance on the part of the two teams to put the ball in the air in less than ideal conditions.
Though the teams attempted 57 aerials, the lone first-half score was Gaffney signal-caller Bryson Ward’s 42-yard touchdown toss to teammate D. J. Logan.
Ward kept drives alive by scrambling out of the pocket on numerous occasions, including a 28-yard run that put the Indians in scoring position inside the 10.
Gaffney asserted itself, outgaining Rock Hill with 157 rushing yards to 63 for the Bearcats.
Quadarius Hardy paced the run game for the Indians with 68 yards on 20 carries. Next was quarterback Ward with 55 net yards on 11 carries.
In assessing the loss to Northwestern, Carroll didn’t mince words.
“Northwestern’s got an incredible football team,” he said. “They’re very well coached and they’ve got great players.
“We never really competed well enough to win that football game. They beat us in every phase of the game, outcoached us, did it all. We’ve got to move on.”
The visiting Trojans assumed command of the proceedings from the outset, penetrating the end zone twice for a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
After the Cougars had a three-and-out on the game’s first possession, Northwestern drove 59 yards to pay dirt, culminating with Jerry Howard’s 15-yard TD run.
Later in the first stanza, quarterback Gage Moloney broke loose on a 40-yard scoring jaunt to put the Trojans up 14-0 with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter.
The Cougars took the ensuing kickoff and set sail on a 64-yard scoring drive, with quarterback Wally Wilmore penetrating the end zone from six yards out in the opening moments of the second quarter.
Junior running back Paul Moore galloped for first-down yardage on two occasions during the impressive drive. Wilmore also had a first-down run in the drive.
The Cougars ended the first half with a Deivonne Chalk-led defensive gem that prevented the Trojans from smelling the end zone.
The YCHS team had other scoring opportunities, but were unable to convert.
Trailing 22-7 into the fourth quarter, the Cougars remained within striking distance until the Trojans scored twice on 1 and 2-yard runs by Moloney to seal the win.