Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery said if not for the ESPN football doubleheader last Saturday at District Three Stadium, his Bearcats would have had three Thursday night games this season.
But when the date for the ESPN games was confirmed, it allowed Rock Hill to open its season at home against Greer last Friday. And what a game it was.
The young Bearcats came from behind and won 29-28 in overtime on a 2-point conversion called by Montgomery. He figured he was playing on his home turf and hadn't been able to stop the Yellow Jackets, so why settle for another overtime when a play could win the game.
The result, Montgomery said, is that his young team grew up from the first to the fourth quarter, then a little more in overtime.
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The Bearcats have their first Thursday game at 7:30 tonight when they host Nation Ford. The Falcons are 2-0 for the first time since the school opened four years ago.
"I think what happened is that Nation Ford finally overcame the split over there with Fort Mill (High School)," Montgomery said. "It was the same over here when South Pointe opened. Look at Northwestern. They struggled at first like we did. It took both of us a couple of years to catch up to where we were."
This Rock Hill team is different than those of past years under Montgomery. He still likes to throw the ball and still uses two quarterbacks: Kenterius Hinton and Corey Wessinger. They are still fast and still pursue hard on defense.
The biggest difference is in identity. Rock Hill graduated 17 starters, 10 on defense. And for the first time in years, there are no true stars. This year's version of the Bearcats can best be described as a blue-collar team. Montgomery has kids who aren't afraid to work.
"Our kids know that if they make plays good things will happen," he said. "We don't have superstars or Division I players. We have 6-foot-1, 190-pound players who like to play.
"And they are players who want to win and will get a chance play in college. Kids like Trey McCullough, William Killian and Thomas Perry, and several others will get the opportunity to play at the next level."
But first things first. Montgomery knows his Bearcats will face a stern challenge tonight from coach Rusty Jester's team. The Falcons have come out hot and nothing fuels momentum better than a couple of wins.
"Rusty has a very good tailback in J.J. McCullough; one of the best we will face," Montgomery said. "Their quarterback (Thomas Condron) is not big but he throws well and doesn't make bad plays or decisions that beat his team.''
And to go 2-0, Rock Hill has to protect the ball and make big plays, which they did last week.
Hinton scored the TD, a 5-yard run, in overtime. He nailed Kirob Sims with a pass to get the winning 2-point conversion.
"We had some good performances," Montgomery said. "We had the big kickoff return by Savion Thomas and Kirob made a good catch on the winning play.''