South Pointe football coach Bobby Carroll said his Stallions are a decided underdog tonight at home against the Rock Hill Bearcats.
"We went on the Internet and saw we are picked to lose by six points,'' he said. "We're just a little ol' Class AAA school playing a Class AAAA powerhouse. Rock Hill should be the favorite. They are 3-0 and we're 2-1.
"A lot of people counted Rock Hill out this year because they graduated so many seniors. But they have reloaded and have as much speed and talent as the always have.''
Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery got a good laugh out of being picked the winner by six. He said the person who made the pick didn't know anything about this game.
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"Tell Bobby that if he believes that, we'll take the six points and not play,'' Montgomery said. "This game should be a good one, a slobber knocker by both teams. We might have a speed advantage, but we'll have to do a lot of things right for it to help us.
"In our first two games, we were down 14 and 10 and had to come back to win. That is a testament to how hard our guys play.''
What South Pointe has is a pair of the state's top defensive players. One starter is Gerald Dixon, who is drawing interest from several Division I schools, including South Carolina.
The other is Jadeveon Clowney, regarded as the nation's top overall player by most recruiting sites, has his pick of where to continue his football career. South Carolina and Alabama are the schools at the top of his list.
Clowney is akin to having a good quarterback on offense. He can control a game on his side of the ball and most coaches say he's the most-feared rusher in the state. At 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, he's also rumored to be the fastest player on his team.
Speed will be important when the Stallions are on defense. Rock Hill's skill players are good at finding holes and open spaces, and when out in the open hard to run down from behind.
The Bearcats use two quarterbacks, Dre Williams, who Montgomery calls a true speedster - he ran a 91-yard touchdown on his first carry last week - and tall and rangy Corey Wessinger, possessor of a strong and accurate arm. He passed for 120 yards and a TD last week.
"And they have a third quarterback who was sharing time with Wessinger,'' Carroll said. "He (Kentereus Hinton) hurt his ankle against Nation Ford and Williams will move back to defense when he gets back.
"It's the same kind of Rock Hill team we always see; fast, talented and physical. But this is City of Rock Hill football. We have three schools and each one has players who want to be on the football team. They are good players and it's usually a good game when two of us get together."
Rock Hill's skill players reach beyond the quarterbacks. The Bearcats have a pair of very capable tailbacks in Arthur Heyward and Savion Thoms. Wide receiver Kirob Sims, Carroll said, might be the best his team will face all season. All three are cat-quick and hard to take down in open space, which concerns Carroll.
"We got to tackle, to put their offensive players on the ground,'' Carroll said. "We sometimes try to go for the monster hit and don't get a clean tackle. When we do that, the ball carrier sometimes bounces off and keeps going.
"If we do that against Rock Hill, we'll be chasing them all night. We have to stop them before they can get going, protect the ball on offense and hope that Landon (Ard) keeps them pinned back with his kicks and hope our defense gives us good field position.''
It's a given that Ard, one of the state's top kickers, will boom the ball. He's kicked off 15 of 18 times into the end zone for touchbacks. He's averaging 44-plus yards per punt. And he's all accurate, with 12-of-13 PATs and three-of-four field goals, including a 48-yarder.
The kicking game and defense have to execute for the Stallions to win. South Pointe has just 554 yards rushing, 258 and five TDs by quarterback Tay Hicklin, 266 passing and three touchdowns, also by Hicklin. So it's obvious Rock Hill has to stop Hicklin and force turnover to win.
Rock Hill has rushed for 681 yards, 250 by Thoms, and 413 yards passing.
"But we haven't played the caliber of teams they've played,'' Montgomery said. "What did they score, 37 against Independence? (Actually, it was 34.)
"Our concern is South Pointe's defensive line. We have to hold our blocks longer in our zone scheme to take advantage of our speed. If we can do that, we have a chance. South Pointe's two defensive ends can play anywhere they like, their linebackers are good and South Carolina should sign their kicker. He's the best in the state.''
Montgomery said Wessinger will start tonight, that Williams could come in on second down or not at all.
He'll likely shed the not at all thought to throw different looks at the charging Stallions.
"You should always have two quarterback that can play,'' Montgomery said. "That way if one get hurt, the next guy has experience and can lead the team. Quarterback is an important position. If you have just one and lose him, it could be disaster for your season.''