With both teams sporting 3-1 records in Region 3-AAAA, York and Fort Mill have a lot riding on Friday’s clash in Fort Mill.
The Cougars, 8-1 overall for the season, and Fort Mill, 7-2 overall, will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Mill stadium in a game that could determine playoff status for both.
While the Cougars were defeating Nation Ford 44-20 in last week’s homecoming game, the Yellow Jackets rallied to sting the Rock Hill Bearcats, 20-19.
“Fort Mill is an outstanding football team,” said York head football coach Bobby Carroll. “We know they will present a big challenge.”
Carroll credits Fort Mill head coach Ed Susi for presenting that challenge. “He is among the best at scheming,” said Carroll. “They will throw everything at you offensively.”
Riding the momentum of a three-game win streak, the Yellow Jackets have reaped the benefits of playing a large percentage of underclassmen last season. Four of five offensive linemen returned from last season.
Fort Mill scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Bearcats.
Quarterback Rogan Wells was more than the Bearcats defense could handle with the game on the line. In addition to engineering the clinching drive, Wells made his presence felt on the ground and through the air from the outset.
Wells, a junior, rushed for 89 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run. He completed 14-of-24 for 205 yards, including a 23-yard scoring pass to Brandon Plyler.
The Cougars built a 37-8 lead midway through the third quarter.
With the first quarter ending in a scoreless deadlock, the Cougars got on the scoreboard when senior placekicker Buddy “Morten” Anderson booted a 22-yard field goal at the midway point of the second quarter.
Anderson, whose kickoffs out of the end zone limit opponents’ return yardage to zero, is among the premier placekickers in the state. Anderson said he plans to work his way into a scholarship situation as a preferred walk-on.
“I’d like to attend a Division 1 or mid-level school in-state,” he said.
With crucial region games remaining and an eye on the playoffs, Anderson said, he knows he could be called on for a field goal try with the game on the line. Last year, Anderson’s winning field goal against Boiling Springs split the uprights with no time remaining.
“I have confidence I can deliver if the situation calls for it,” he said.
A solid ground game led by senior running back Thomas Wilkerson keyed the Cougars’ second-quarter drive to set up Anderson’ s field goal.
With the Cougars facing second down at their 35, Wilkerson bolted 25 yards to the Nation Ford 40. Later, the 5-11, 185-pound running back had a 13-yard run to the Nation Ford 10.
Patch Edwards’ 25-yard interception return pushed the Cougars ahead 10-0 with 6:55 remaining in the second quarter.
“I read the quarterback,” the senior defensive stalwart said after the game. “He was backing up and I looked dead into his eyes. It was a great feeling finally getting into the end zone.”
York’s second-quarter production continued with quarterback Deshaw Andrews’ 33-yard touchdown toss to elusive wideout Kyron Schrouder, who later had a five-yard touchdown run.
The Cougars padded their lead with Andrews’ 27-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Shandon Cobb.
Junior running back Brandon Garvin, 6-feet and 185 pounds, closed out the scoring with touchdown runs of 27 and three yards.
“I had real good blocking on both touchdown runs,” said Garvin. “It’s always a great feeling when you find the end zone.”
Though he was pleased with the win, Carroll said, he sees room for improvement on both sides of the ball.
“I am proud of the kids for being 8-1 at this stage of the season,” said Carroll, “but we’ve got to cut down on penalties and turnovers and play a four-quarter game to get where we need to be.”
“We know Nation Ford has scored points on everybody.”