YORK -- Life begins anew for the York Comprehensive High School football team Friday night.
The Cougars, at 2-4, host perennial power Gaffney (3-3) in the Region 3-AAAA opener for both teams.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m., with Hall of Fame induction ceremonies set for halftime.
While the Cougars fell victim to Rock Hill's second half offensive output in a 56-29 loss last week, Gaffney fell to age-old rival Spartanburg, 17-12.
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Spartanburg was unable to generate much offense, but they didn't need to. The Indians couldn't recover from self-inflicted miscues brought about by three turnovers and a meager 20.7 average on seven punts. Adding to Gaffney's loss were third down conversion miseries, as in 4-for-18.
Still, YCHS coach John Barrett is mindful of the Indians' reputation across the state.
"They have great tradition," Barrett said of Friday's opponent. "There's not a better program in the state."
Though Barrett is disappointed the Cougars didn't win more games leading up to region play, he said the players and coaches know Friday represents a new season.
"Every team starts region play on even foot across the board," he said. "This is what we've worked for since last spring."
Offensive coordinator Christopher Black recognizes the Cougars' potential on offense.
"We were our own worst enemy with unforced mistakes in the loss to Rock Hill," noted Black. "We can move the ball on anybody when we execute."
The Cougars executed enough against the Bearcats to score 29 points and churn out a season-high 365 yards rushing.
Running behind crisp blocking by the offensive line, junior tailback Quastin Walker penetrated the Bearcat defense for 199 yards rushing, including a 75-yard TD run that pulled the Cougars within a touchdown in the opening moments of the second half.
Quarterback Adrion Crawford, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a hip pointer, had 54 yards rushing on 10 carries. Fullback Nick Feemster netted 74 yards on four carries, including a 32 yard scoring run.
The Cougars' other touchdowns included a 40-yard scoring pass from Crawford to Bryce Dudley and Corey Dover's 9-yard run late in the game.
Jamal Tyler rushed for 186 yards on 17 carries for the Bearcats.
Barrett said he knew Rock Hill had good team speed.
"They pushed us off the ball," Barrett said in recognizing areas of concern. "We didn't tackle well in the open field and had too many turnovers."
The YCHS mentor said a 14-point swing moments before the half ended impacted the game in a huge way.
On fourth and goal from the 1, Walker was denied the endzone. Lightning struck on the next play when Rock Hill signal-caller Jatavious Stewart connected with teammate Asa Watson on a scoring toss that covered 99 yards.
With region play to start Friday, the Cougars are primed to entertain visiting Gaffney.
"Our players know what region play is all about," Black said. "We can still make the playoffs, depending on how we do in the region."
Offensive lineman Jamie Smith said now is the time for the seniors to step up to make sure the younger players understand the importance of region play.
"We need to come together as a team and be ready to go Friday night," added Smith.
With Crawford's injury a day to day situation, Barrett said he has confidence in junior quarterback Matt Haynie and freshman QB Corey Dover.
Haynie, who sat out with a concussion last week, returned to practice Monday.
Dover directed the Cougar offense against Rock Hill when Crawford left the game.
"Corey did a good job coming into the game with our team trailing by four touchdowns," observed Barrett. "He starts on defense and returns punts for us."
Said Barrett, "We are confident that Matt or Corey can get the job done."