The York Comprehensive High School football team’s ascent to No. 1 in the state 4A rankings hasn’t come easy.
After playing a formidable nonregion schedule, the unbeaten Cougars opened Region 3-AAAA play with a come-from-behind win in Rock Hill on Sept. 26 in the final 20 seconds.
The Cougars will return to Rock Hill’s District Three Stadium on Friday night to face the Northwestern Trojans at 7:30 p.m. in a contest of top-10 teams.
While the Cougars survived a 17-13 thriller against the Bearcats, the Trojans had their hands full at Fort Mill, winning 35-28.
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“Northwestern is 4-2 and playing well,” York head football coach Bobby Carroll said. “They will be ready to play Friday night.”
Trojans quarterback Dupree Hart ran for 146 yards and passed for 93 in the win against Fort Mill.
“Hart is one of the best players in the state,” said Carroll. “Make no mistake about it.”
The Trojans had the ball to open the second half and executed the offense with precision as Hart delivered pinpoint passes, culminating in a 28-yard touchdown pass to Kirk Clayton on Clayton’s first reception of the game.
The Yellow Jackets traded scores with the favored Trojans but were unable to contain Hart.
The Cougars were ranked No. 1 in the state in 4A entering this week’s play.
Carroll said that when play began in August and maintains at the midpoint of the season that teams have to learn to deal with success. “We have a target on our back,” he said.
It’s fair to say the Cougars responded in dramatic fashion at District Three Stadium last week. After Rock Hill’s Cam Long booted a 32-yard field goal to put the Bearcats up 13-10 with 3:29 left in the game, the Cougars took the ensuing kickoff with favorable field position at their own 42.
Playing against the strongest defensive front York has faced this season, the inside running of junior Brandon Garvin and senior quarterback Deshaw Andrews’ completion to sophomore wideout Wally Wilmore for a first down at the Rock Hill 23 put the Cougars in scoring position.
Several plays later, the Cougars had third down at the Bearcat 5-yard line with 26.2 seconds left. Andrews – 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds with the skill set of a much smaller player – rambled into the right side of the end zone.
York’s Mitchell Trotter had the defensive play of the game, intercepting a Rock Hill pass and returning the ball to the Bearcat 11 early in the third quarter.