The meltdown caught the entire state by surprise.
Byrnes was ranked No. 1 in the state, Rock Hill was No. 2 but close behind in votes going into the first round of the Class AAAA Division I playoffs.
The talk since the day the brackets had been settled was which team would win in the semifinals. Surely, the fans said aloud, Rock Hill and Byrnes would win their first two rounds of the playoffs and meet in the third week with a trip to the championship game on the line.
The debate grew to the point of even getting the Byrnes folks worried and stirred up. Byrnes held up its end of the bargain, Rock Hill, 11-0, played its worst game of the season in a 41-28 first-round loss to Spartanburg, a heavy underdog.
Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery, who ordinarily gives great quotes, was at a loss for words after the game. He went into the season with 17 senior starters back and until that cold November night at District Three Stadium, his players delivered in the regular season with an 11-0 record and a region championship.
So now, the Bearcats are rebuilding, hoping to put the right players in the right spots and continue their tradition of winning with a young group of talented but inexperienced players.
"I told our guys there is no way we have the talent we had last year when we lost in the first round of the playoffs,'' Montgomery said. "But I told them that there was no way we were going to lose in the first round this year.''
The Bearcats begin their new journey at 7:30 tonight against Greer, a Class AAA team that doesn't show up on old schedules as a team Rock Hill has ever played. But it could be the Indianapolis Colts as far as Montgomery is concerned. Tonight's game is a test. The players will be graded and the coaches will have a better idea of what to expect this season.
Ten starters are gone from the defense, but that side of the ball is as quick as usual and has played well in the Bearcats' last two scrimmages, including a 7-6 win over Byrnes.
And Montgomery is sticking to his guns. He will still have two quarterbacks to run the offense and switch out to change the pace: passer Corey Wessinger and runner Kenterius Hinton.
"Corey has a strong and accurate arm with the ability to get us down the field,'' Montgomery said. "Right now, I'd give him the edge because he has a complete understanding of our offense.
"Kenterius can run the "Wildcat" and can pass if he needs to. Both are alike in that they can run the team. The one we have in the game as our starter will be the one that gets us in the end zone. If it's not going well, we have the option of changing the pace.''
The Rock Hill game leads a strong list of match-ups tonight and includes games that could be very entertaining.
York is home against Broome in an new carpeted stadium and with a new head coach, new faces and new attitude. Will all of the above equate into a winning debut for coach Mike Propst, who recently said he expects to start at least 12 sophomores?
That's something that doesn't often happen in these parts.
Clover is coming off an impressive win over N.C. defending state champion South Point of Belmont last week, and did so with a new crew of running backs. Tonight's game at Ashbrook is the second of three straight against a Gastonia-area team and should be win No. 2.
There could be a very good game at Nation Ford when Great Falls comes to Fort Mill tonight. The Falcons opened with a win over Forestview (N.C.) last week and has not won its first two games since the school opened four years ago.
Fort Mill, opens its season at home against Lugoff-Elgin, a team the Yellow Jackets haven't played since 1995. But who's counting. After back-to-back 1-10 seasons, Fort Mill is much improved this season. Tonight's game will show how much.
Lewisville and York were supposed to play last week, but because of the death of Lions senior Brian Colvin, the game was rescheduled for Sept. 24. The game would have been a good one for the Lions against a rebuilding Cougars team. Instead, Lewisville gets to open at home tonight against Chester, a team that could win the Class AAA state championship.
Lancaster is home against Class AA rival Andrew Jackson, a team that's held it own against the Bruins in the recent past. But the Bruins are going to be a lot better team than most folks think, so keep an eye on them.
Indian Land hosts Buford in their first of two meetings this season. Both moved up to Class AA this year into one of the strongest regions in the classification, 4-AA. This game doesn't count in the region, The one on the last night of the regular season does and could well determine the region's fourth playoff spot.
Westminster Catawba opened with a win last week and hosts a Forsyth Country Day team that scored 55 points last week. But the Indians easily handled the Fury last season and Westminster Catawba might be better than the team that went 8-4 and missed the state championship by a game.