Rock Hill shook off what looked like a crushing loss to Nation Ford to thump Fort Mill last week and stir up the playoff race in Region 4-5A.
Fort Mill (3-5, 1-2 Region 4-5A) had grabbed the inside track on one of the two remaining postseason spots - Northwestern and Nation Ford are all but in - with its 21-14 win over Clover on Oct. 7. But the Yellow Jackets’ crucial victory was undone last week by the Bearcats’ 48-28 road victory.
“We watched the film, corrected the mistakes and kept encouraging our kids,” said Rock Hill (2-6, 1-1) coach Bubba Pittman. “We played with a little chip on our shoulder. They realized they can be a good football team.”
A week after giving up 70 points, Rock Hill forced four turnovers that resulted in 17 points. After the Yellow Jackets took a 14-7 lead with over 6 minutes left in the first quarter, Rock Hill ripped off 31 straight points, an eerily similar outburst to the one Nation Ford produced during the previous week’s blowout.
“The ball just bounced our way this past week,” said Pittman, whose team hosts Clover in another must-win game.
Special teams provided Rock Hill with a lift with Nick Truesdale running a kickoff back for a touchdown and Qua Brice returning another one 44 yards. Those efforts were huge given the regularity with which local kickers are bashing kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunities to return kicks,” said Pittman, “but they’re doing a good job of finding creases and our guys are creating some holes there.”
This week will be a real test for Rock Hill and Clover’s scout teams. Much is made about how difficult it is for schools to prepare for the Blue Eagles’ Wing-T attack, but, as Pittman pointed out, “they’ve got the exact opposite problem simulating what we do.”
“We’ll change some periods in practice, be a little more run-heavy, and we’ll try to simulate it, but we can’t,” he added. “We’ll tell them what they need to know, line them up correctly and let them be football players.”
After a contrasting two weeks, it’ll be telling to see which Bearcats show up Friday for Rock Hill’s biggest game of the season.
Rock Hill-Northwestern game nudged back a week to Nov. 4
The reshuffling of the South Carolina high school football schedule because of Hurricane Matthew-induced flooding left schools in the Upper State with two extra open weeks at the end of the season.
Because of that, Northwestern and Rock Hill have moved their regular season finale rivalry tilt from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4. That will give the Trojans and Bearcats a game sandwiched by two bye weeks.
“We didn’t want to have multiple weeks off without a game so we talked to Northwestern and those guys wanted to move it too,” said Rock Hill coach Bubba Pittman. “We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible.”
The state playoffs now begin on Nov. 18 after flooding hit the Lowcountry hard for a second straight October. The move was widely applauded but has left schools across the state with a vastly different looking next month. Anderson’s Westside High, a top-10 team in the 5A ranks, has just one game in the remaining three weeks of the newly rejigged season.
Northwestern will host its football, band and cheerleading senior nights on Nov. 4. The JV game will be played as originally scheduled on Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. at District Three Stadium.
Keep an eye on the Boiling Springs-Clover and Fort Mill-Nation Ford games, which might make similar decisions as the Rock Hill and Northwestern folks.
Indian Land comes up big against Columbia
Indian Land has struggled this season thanks to a number of different factors, but the Warriors produced a needed victory last Friday against Columbia to remain firmly alive in the Region 4-3A playoff hunt.
Fairfield Central hosts Chester Friday in a game that will likely decide the Region 4-3A title.
Four of the five teams in the league make the postseason; Fairfield Central and Chester are safe bets to grab the first two, with Camden, Columbia and Indian Land scrapping for the final two. The Warriors’ 13-6 victory over the Capitals goes a long way to ensuring Michael Mayer’s club grabs one of those spots.
Byrnes and Gaffney trying to keep flickering playoff hopes lit
Here’s an odd fact: Byrnes and Gaffney play each other Friday in what amounts to an elimination game from the postseason in Region 3-5A. Byrnes got a big morale-booster last week against Nation Ford, but the 42-27 win had little impact on the Rebels’ region standing; Brian Lane’s team (0-2 in Region 3-5A) is parked in the basement right next to Gaffney.
The Indians have dropped three of their last four, including their first two region games. Four of the five teams from the league - ranked eighth best in the country according to MaxPreps computers - make the postseason and Friday’s loser will be in a dire situation with three losses, especially considering Gaffney closes with Spartanburg and Byrnes with Dorman.
Tri-County players of the week (Week 8)
4A, 5A schools
Offensive player of the week: Derion Kendrick, South Pointe- Stallions QB completed 17-of-25 passes for 219 yards and also ran the ball seven times for 46 yards during his team’s win over Lancaster.
Honorable mention: Jerry Howard, Northwestern; Qua Brice, Rock Hill.
Defensive player: Deedric Cousar, South Pointe- linebacker made 17 tackles, with seven primaries and a tackle-for-loss, against Lancaster.
Honorable mention: Devardo Williams, Rock Hill; Seth Wood, York; Jerkevious Hall, Northwestern.
Offensive linemen: Jackson Chappell, South Pointe and Tim Washington, Rock Hill- Chappell graded out at 92 percent with four big-time blocks, two pancakes and no sacks allowed against Lancaster. Washington graded 91 percent with three knockdowns during the Bearcats’ win over Fort Mill.
Honorable mention: N/A
Defensive lineman: Danny Warren, York- senior made nine tackles, including two for a loss, and a key third down stop and fourth down stop during the Cougars’ win over Westwood.
Honorable mention: Keshawn Veal, South Pointe.
Special teams: Myles Prosser, York- kicker hit a game-winning 25-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the Cougars’ victory over Westwood. He also punted five times for a 36-yard average and kicked two touchbacks.
Honorable mention: B.T. Potter, South Pointe; Zhenya Deller, Rock Hill.
1A, 2A, 3A, schools
Offensive player of the week: Heath Gandy, Andrew Jackson- Gandy ran the ball 26 times for 183 yards and a touchdown, and also caught a 25-yard pass in the Vols’ win over Chesterfield.
Honorable mention: Tex Haven, Andrew Jackson; Lee Massey, Indian Land; Pha’Leak Brown, Chester.
Defensive player: Robbie Csuhta, Indian Land- sophomore linebacker made 13 tackles, with 10 solos and two for a loss, and a sack during the Warriors’ win over Columbia.
Honorable mention: Isaiah Parker, Andrew Jackson.
Offensive linemen: Dalton McKittrick, Andrew Jackson and Xi Simpson, Chester- McKittrick graded out at 92 percent with two pancake blocks against Chesterfield, while Chester’s Simpson graded 85 percent with seven knockdown blocks and was the lead blocker on four different touchdown runs against Camden.
Honorable mention: Jake Locklear, Indian Land.
Defensive lineman: Logan Teeter, Indian Land- senior made 13 tackles, with four for a loss and two sacks.
Honorable mention: Tex Haven, Andrew Jackson; C.J. Collins, Andrew Jackson.
Special teams: Matt Murray, Indian Land- returned three punts for 20 yards against Columbia High, and still hasn’t fumbled a kick hold all season.
Honorable mention: N/A
State rankings (headed into Week 9)
1. Dutch Fork; 2. Northwestern; 3. Fort Dorchester; 4. Westside; 5. Spartanburg; 6. Boiling Springs; 7. Sumter; 8. Dorman; 9. Greenwood; 10. Gaffney
Others receiving votes: T.L. Hanna, Blythewood, Mauldin, Carolina Forest, Nation Ford
1. South Pointe; 2. Myrtle Beach; 3. Hartsville; 4. Cane Bay; 5. Belton-Honea Path; 6. Ridge View; 7. South Aiken; 8. North Myrtle Beach; 9. Beaufort; 10. Union County
Others receiving votes: Chapin, Greer, Wren, Greenville, York, Lancaster, North Augusta
1. Dillon; 2. Bluffton; 3. Fairfield Central; 4. Gilbert; 5. Bishop England; 6. Brookland-Cayce; 7. Strom Thurmond; 8. Chapman; 9. Woodruff; 10. Lake City
Others receiving votes: Chester, Newberry, Broome, Palmetto, Powdersville, Crescent
1. Abbeville; 2. Barnwell; 3. Cheraw; 4. Saluda; 5. Batesburg-Leesville; 6. Bamberg-Ehrhardt; 7. Lee Central; 8. Blacksburg; 9. Calhoun County; 10. Carvers Bay
Others receiving votes: Southside Christian, Andrew Jackson, Andrews, Christ Church, Chesterfield
1. Lamar; 2. Lake View; 3. McBee; 4. Lewisville; 5. Williston-Elko; 6. Blackville-Hilda; 7. Hemingway; 8. Baptist Hill; 9. C.E. Murray; 10. Cross
Others receiving votes: Wagener-Salley, Bethune-Bowman, St. John’s; Ridge Spring-Monetta
The S.C. Prep Media Football Poll is conducted by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal with voting from Michael Christopher, Greenwood Index Journal; Bob Castello, Greenville News; Chris Clark, Orangeburg Times and Democrat; Chris Dearing, The State; Joe Hughes, Myrtle Beach Sun News; Kevin Melton, Spartanburg Herald Journal; Lou Bezjak, The State; Lake Morris, Anderson Independent Mail; David Shelton, Charleston Post and Courier; Bret McCormick, The Herald (Rock Hill); Scott Chancey, Florence Morning News and Eric Russell, Aiken Standard.