Rock Hill schools owned the inaugural WRHI Football City USA Kickoff Friday night at District Three Stadium with all three visiting teams handed losses in the final scrimmages of the 2017 high school football preseason. Check out game summaries and five things we noticed from the action:
South Pointe 21, Byrnes 14
The South Pointe Stallions got two touchdown passes from Clemson-bound Derion Kendrick, including the tiebreaker to Steven Gilmore Jr. with 4:03 left, to defeat the Byrnes Rebels 21-14.
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The Rebels scored first on a 23-yard TD pass with 1:08 left in the first quarter, but the Stallions answered two plays and 18 seconds later on a 42-yard TD run by Marice Whitlock straight up the middle through a gaping hole. Kendrick then hooked up with Scott Robinson for a 17-yard score with 4:27 left in the third to make it 14-7.
Jamari Currence, who got an offer from James Madison earlier in the day, blocked a Byrnes field goal attempt in the last minute of the third quarter. The Rebels hit on a long pass play without five minutes left in the game and then tied the game on a two-yard QB keeper. But the Stallions again answered immediately with the 59-yard hookup from Kendrick to Gilmore for the decisive score. The Rebels fumbled two plays into their ensuing drive and the Stallions ran out the clock.
Rock Hill 38, Hough 14
A young Rock Hill Bearcats team came out and trounced what is expected to be a good Hough Huskies squad 38-14 at District Three Stadium. The game was never in doubt as the Bearcats scored the first 30 points of the contest. Senior QB Logan McFadden looked good for the Bearcats with several scoring tosses, and his top target is sophomore Antonio Barber, who can be a really special player before his career is over. They hooked up early for a 64-yard touchdown to get things started.
Rock Hill's young O-line had trouble in a recent scrimmage, but did much better providing time for McFadden and running lanes for senior running back Des Buchanan. Narrii Gaither took a short McFadden pass 44 yards to the house.
The Bearcats lost stellar placekicker Zhenya Deller to graduation and Friday night they tried out their two-point conversions. It went well as they were successful on four of five attempts.
Northwestern 14, Union County 7
The Northwestern Trojans got a scoring run from Dequez Harris and Dustin Noller hooked up with Jamario Holley on a scoring toss in their 14-7 victory over the Union County Yellow Jackets Friday night. Harris started the scoring with a 12-yard run and the Noller-to-Holley connection covered 46 yards. Holley got clear separation behind his defender and Noller hit him in stride.
Noller has been in a battle with Tanner McKinney for the starting job, but McKinney has apparently transferred to York. Last season, Wally Wilmore, who played some QB, transferred to Northwestern from York right before the season started. Noller looked in command and was accurate. Union got on the board with about four minutes to play on a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Five things we noticed
▪ Fans in the city were ready for some football. The home side was mostly full all night, and South Pointe's crowd was good despite a 5 p.m. start and some rain right before game time. Bodes well for the future of this event. Football City stepped up.
▪ Rock Hill may be better than advertised. Hough has had a lot of success since starting its program and is expected to be good again. The Bearcats lost a lot of players from last year and come into this season very young, especially on the offensive line. They do have some good skill players and this game was never close. Rock Hill scored 30 points before the Huskies got on the board.
▪ South Pointe is good at football. Not earth-shattering news, but the three-time defending 3A/4A state champs seem to really turn it on when they want to. Derion Kendrick is a special athlete at a school full of special athletes. Steven Gilmore Jr. is coming into his own and picking up where he left off at his coming-out party in the state title game. He may be making a name for himself and stepping out of the considerable shadow of big brother Stephon. For a team like this to also have such good kicking is almost not fair. They won't need excessive practice time for their kickoff coverage unit this season with B.T. Potter booming kicks through the end zone like he did Friday night.
▪ Byrnes looked pretty good against the Stallions and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back from a rare down season. Their former coach Brian Lane is now at Clover, and the 11-time state champion Rebels will be looking for a bounce back year under former A.C. Flora coach Reggie Shaw. The Rebels are not usually into moral victories, but their supporters can be encouraged by a 21-14 loss to one of the best football teams at any level in the state.
▪ Northwestern may be okay at quarterback. Tanner McKinney, who was in the running for the starting job, has apparently transferred. Sophomore Dustin Noller got the start Friday night, played the first half, and played well. He was accurate on the deep ball and the Trojans used their short passing game effectively. They still have high-level weapons at receiver with Jamario Holley, Jordan Starkes and Dequez Harris out of the backfield.