Note: View video of York's new stadium here.
YORK — York Comprehensive High School football coach Mike Propst was splitting time between practice fields Monday morning.
He watched from the sideline at the upper field, keeping his eyes on the junior varsity players. But he spent the majority of his time on the lower field with the varsity, moving from station to station while his assistants coached their units.
Propst is new. He was hired to replace John Barrett.
He has his work cut out for him, taking over a team that has gone 10-24 the past three seasons. Its last winning record was in 2006.
Propst, who is 40, never hesitated in applying for the job, saying all aspects of what he would face appealed to him. New players. New school and stadium. New region.
"This ain't my first rodeo,'' Propst said. "I spent the last eight years as the head coach at R.J. Reynolds (N.C.) High School, was head coach at Keenan in Columbia and at Watauga High in Boone (N.C.). But when I saw this job was open, I knew I had to apply.
"The new facilities had a lot to do with it; looking forward to walking into the new stadium with our team. But so did the opportunity to coach football in this part of South Carolina. Everybody in both Carolinas knows the reputations and quality of football here, and I wanted to be a part of it.''
The Cougars are moving into a new school, with a fancy new stadium. It seats 6,500, has separate field houses on each end and field turf installed with money from a grant provided by the Carolina Panthers.
The old field will still be called Pratt Field and used by York's middle school teams. Athletic Director Steve Boyd said the new facility will be called the YCHS Stadium. Boyd said the Pratt family wanted the name to stay at the old school.
Propst and his team are also facing a new classification, dropping to Class AAA for the next two years because of lower enrollment numbers, and joining Region 4-AAA with Chester, Fairfield Central, Fort Mill, Nation Ford and South Pointe.
"We still have a ways to go, as far as conditioning, but we are getting there,'' Propst said. "I got here in March and was able to go through spring practice with the players. And I've been pleased with the numbers.
"We have 58 out for the varsity. Some are kids who never played or played and are coming back. But a lot of that has to do with the new coach thing, and we'll see how many we still have on Friday.''
By then the Cougars will have had several practices in full pads and a scrimmage.
The Cougars are young, likely the youngest team in this area. Propst said when he recently sat down with his assistants to assess personnel, they identified 12 sophomores as likely starters.
"I guess you could say we are throwing them to the wolves,'' Propst said. "But to rebuild a program you have to put your best talent on the field. I've never been one to keep sophomores on the varsity and not play them.''
There will also be several juniors in the mix.
Two, Corey Dover and Matt Bostic, are competing with Spencer Carroll for the starting quarterback job. When asked who was ahead in the race, none would offer a guess, saying it was a good, friendly competition.
Dover could easily play there, as he did at times last season. But he is the team's top player and its most versatile. Last year he started in the defensive secondary and ran back kicks. He can play all three skill positions. If Dover lines up under center, it will likely be when the Cougars go to the "Wildcat'' scheme.
"No matter what happens, I know I'll be playing somewhere,'' Dover said, who is 6-feet, 150 pounds. "Certainly I want to start at quarterback, but we have two others guys who can do the job.
"All of us are excited for the season to start. We have a new coach and have had to adjust to his style. It's a lot different. Coach Propst has a really strong work ethic and he's made us work hard. We see this as a new start.''
Propst has made it clear he is the boss. Last Friday, the first day of practice, he was not pleased with the efforts of a player and kicked him out of practice. Mike Smith, York's longtime athletic trainer, said the decision got the players' attention. Practice has been crisper, Smith said.
Bostic was the JV quarterback last season. He is 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds and sees the field well. Like the other two, his mission is winning the starting job.
"Everything seems like it's new and exciting this year,'' Bostic said. "New coach, new school and get to play on a carpet field in a new stadium. I went by there to see it a couple of weeks ago. They were painting the track and the field looked good.''
Carroll is the son of South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll and was a varsity back-up last year. York meets South Pointe on Oct. 29 in the last game of the regular season - one that could have playoff implications.
"My dad asked me if I wanted to come to South Pointe and play for him, and I told him 'no' for several reasons,'' said Carroll, who is 5-foot-10, 160 pounds. "I'm a Cougar and I didn't want to leave my friends and the people I grew up with playing sports. And, I didn't want to play in my dad's shadow.
"I want to make my own name in football. I want people to look at me and say I'm playing because I earned the right; be my own man.
"And I want to beat him. I think the only time I beat him at anything was once at checkers, and he accused me of cheating. How can you cheat at checkers?''
NOTE: Propst has made some coaching moves on the varsity because he brought in two coordinators. Mitch Ellis is the offensive coordinator. Ellis worked with Propst the last five seasons at R.J. Reynolds.
Jeremy Wright is the defensive coordinator. Although they haven't worked together, they know each other well. Wright has held the same job at Charlotte's East Mecklenburg and West Charlotte in recent years.
Aug. 20 Lewisville at York, 8 p.m.
Aug. 27 Broome at York, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 3 York at Northwestern, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 York at Rock Hill, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 17 Clover at York, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 24 Open
Oct. 1 York at Chester, 7:30 p.m.*
Oct. 8 Fairfield Central at York, 7:30 p.m.*
Oct. 15 York at Fort Mill,7:30 p.m.*
Oct. 22 York at Nation Ford, 7:30 p.m.*
Oct. 29 South Pointe at York, 7:30 p.m.*
* Region game