Seeking to rebound from a 44-19 loss to defending state-champion Northwestern, the York Comprehensive High School football team will host the Gaffney Indians on Friday night.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. for the Region 3-AAAA headliner.
After getting off to a slow start against a demanding schedule, Gaffney has reeled off two consecutive wins, including Friday’s 31-14 pounding of highly-regarded Rock Hill in Gaffney.
The Indians have more state football championships than any school in the state in any classification.
“Gaffney is a tremendous football team,” said York head football coach Bobby Carroll. “We know that.”
With last week’s game day switched to Thursday because of a damp Friday forecast, Carroll was able to watch the Indians at the school’s iconic football stadium, The Reservation.
“They have a powerhouse program and have played a brutal schedule,” Carroll said. “Gaffney always has talent, and this year is no exception. We will have our hands full Friday night.”
The Indians were dominant in chalking up win number two, building a 17-7 halftime lead and continuing to control the game in the second half.
Sophomore quarterback Bryson Ward led Gaffney’s aerial assault, completing 25-of-31 passes for 364 yards.
Ward’s favorite target was wide receiver Greg Ellis, who hauled in nine catches for 195 yards.
Though they won a crucial region game, the Indians suffered a huge loss when star running back Jordon Shippy suffered a severe ankle injury and was carried off the field midway through the second quarter.
Shippy’s replacement, Jalen Sims, finished with 105 yards rushing.
The offensive statistical breakdown indicates Gaffney’s dominance; the Indians outgained the Rock Hill Bearcats 537-271.
In the loss to the host Trojans, the Cougars were in the thick of the battle at halftime, trailing 21-12 after quarterback Deshaw Andrews’ 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kyron Schrouder with 59:09 seconds left in the first half.
“Northwestern outplayed us in every phase of the game: offense, defense, kicking,” Carroll said after the game.
“We were out-coached and had so-so practices this week,” he said. “That’s on me.”
“Northwestern is an outstanding team,” Carroll said. “They played mistake-free football.”
The Trojans scored the only points of the first quarter, when Jerry Howard got into the end zone from four yards out.
The Trojans scored again on a 69-yard pass from quarterback Dupree Hart to D.J. Agurs at 10:09 of the second quarter.
The Cougars took the ensuing kickoff and drove 80 yards to score, with Andrews mixing the run and pass effectively.
The drive culminated with Andrews’ 27-yard touchdown pass to Wally Wilmore. Northwestern answered with Hart’s second touchdown pass returning the lead to two touchdowns.
The Cougars got back on the board when Andrews found Schrouder open on a 21-yard scoring play.
The Trojans extended the lead in the second half, with Andrews finding Schrouder in the end zone for the Cougars’ final score, with 39.7 seconds left in the game.
Carroll said it’s time for the Cougars to put the Northwestern loss behind them and move on.
“We have important region games to play, and our goals are still within reach,” he said. “This is a bump in the road. It’s up to our kids to show they have character and to bounce back.”
Though he was disappointed, Andrews said, he wasn’t discouraged by the loss. “We’ll have to work hard at practice to prepare for Gaffney and stop making mistakes,” said Andrews, who stands 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds. “We still have our goals ahead of us.”
Daurice Simpson, an explosive returner and receiver whose hamstring injury has limited him to defense, said, “We still have big goals and need to play better against Gaffney.
“There are a lot of region games to play, starting at home Friday night.”
The Cougars were expected to remain in the top 10 in the 4A state high school football rankings despite the loss.
The weekly poll is announced each week after the Enquirer-Herald’s Tuesday deadline.