New coach. New stadium. New beginning.
York athletic director Steve Boyd said a collective effort allowed for a new chapter to be written on Friday night at the Bank of York Preseason Scrimmage.
"This has been a community project from the beginning," Boyd said. "It started three years ago, with the administration, the coaches, the athletes and the people of York. The goal is to get help from the local businesses from here on out to make this a special place."
The new York Comprehensive High School Stadium certainly is the talk of the town. The 6,500-seat facility comes complete with separate fieldhouses, new press boxes and a great view from all angles. The big-ticket feature is new field turf made possible by grant money courtesy of the Carolina Panthers.
If the goal was giving the place a professional feel, mission accomplished. The turf is decorated with a bold black, white-trimmed block "Y" at midfield along with "York" and "Cougars" in the end zones.
"I'm typically a basketball person first, but when I looked at the field it took my breath away," York girls basketball coach Paula Blackwell said.
Lisa Williams, whose daughter Kimberly is a sophomore junior varsity cheerleader at York, shared those feelings.
"It's been a long time coming," she said. "We're very thankful and very proud."
Even visiting South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll was impressed.
"It's absolutely beautiful, man," he said before the Stallions faced Clover in the first scrimmage. "Next to maybe Dorman, this is the most impressive facility I've seen. That includes Clemson and South Carolina."
The scrimmage marked the debut for first-year coach Mike Propst, who spent the last eight years as the coach at R.J. Reynolds (N.C.) High School. York faced the Gaffney Indians in the nightcap.
"It's been great," Propst said. "We're blessed to have a place we call home. It's really nice to have all this, but now we have to go out and compete and win football games. That's what it's about."
South Pointe and Clover played in the first scrimmage, and York High School principal Diane Howell said aloud, "This is the first kick-off ever in this stadium."
There promises to be many more with the continued support of the community, she said.
"We've received encouragement from the whole community," Howell said. "A week ago, we didn't know how to turn the lights on, but we figured it out. You can the see the excitement in the whole community. I saw some kids dancing in the stands. This is the first time we've had reserve seats sell out. That should be a pretty good indicator of what's to come."
View video from the scrimmage here.
GAFFNEY 30, YORK 8 -- Gaffney played spoiler and blitzed York with 20 unanswered points in the first quarter, but the Cougars hung tough afterward in a 30-8 loss.
Indians quarterback DeEdward Burris led the way with two TD passes, the second coming on a fourth-and-goal where Burris escaped several York defenders on the right sideline before reversing field and firing a six-yard TD to Quinshad Davis.
York answered with some fourth-down magic of its own. On 4th-and-12 from the Gaffney 42-yard-line, Quarterback Corey Dover found receiver Azievelle Smith, who split two defenders for a 41-yard gain. Dover scored on the next play and added the two-point conversion. York then held Gaffney scoreless in two red-zone trips and trailed 20-8 at the half.
"We were able to turn it around a bit," Propst said. "Gaffney's a good football team, and we knew this was going to be a test for us. We're glad for that."
The Cougars stalled another Gaffney drive in the third quarter, but the Indians were able to come away with a safety and a 22-8 lead. York threatened to answer in the fourth quarter after a turnover and a 40-yard connection from Matt Bostic to Garet Smith to the 2-yard line, but Gaffney's defense held.
Joey Copeland added a touchdown for the Indians in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
York opens regular-season play at home against Lewisville on Aug. 20.
SOUTH POINTE 23, CLOVER 6 -- The South Pointe Stallions won't see the Clover Blue Eagles in the regular season, so Friday's 23-6 victory will serve as revenge for last year's 35-24 loss.
South Pointe's Marquis Cunningham recovered a Clover fumble on the game's opening drive. The Stallions marched 10 plays behind five carries for 36 yards by Dominique Fergerson. Kicker Landon Ard capped the drive with a 23-yard field goal.
The Stallions struck again in the second quarter with a nine-play, 66-yard drive. South Pointe quarterback Ta Hicklin started the drive with a 31-yard scramble. JaRyan Jennings' finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run and gave South Pointe a 10-0 halftime lead.
The Blue Eagles cut the lead to 10-6 in the fourth quarter when James Walker returned on a Hicklin fumble for a two-yard score. Hicklin atoned, however, with a 58-yard strike to Montay Crockett on the next possession. Jalen Massey closed the scoring with a six-yard run with 2:26 left.
"Clover is a quality program," Carroll said. "The preseason is very important to us considering our schedule. We have to get it right quick."
The Stallions open their season Aug. 20 against the AFC Rangers (Charlotte) at District Three South Stadium. The Blue Eagles open their season on Aug. 21 at South Point (N.C.).