YORK -- Seeking to push their Region 3-AAAA record to .500 and remain in playoff contention, the York Comprehensive High School Cougars play at Nation Ford Friday night.
Kickoff time is 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Mill stadium shared by the Nation Ford and Fort Mill high schools.
The Falcons, a second-year high school, played an independent schedule last season.
This year's move to 4A classification has been demanding due to limited numbers.
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Despite a participation shortage, Nation Ford won two nonregion games earlier in the season.
Talented running back Justin Lane, who gained 54 yards on nine carries in a 32-7 loss to Clover last week, had a seven-yard touchdown run against the Blue Eagles.
YCHS head football coach John Barrett said Nation Ford is a dangerous team.
"They are hungry for a win, like we are," noted Barrett.
"We played a Fort Mill team that was hungry for a win and it came down to the last play of the game."
Barrett said the key to success against Nation Ford and the remainder of the season is to eliminate costly mistakes that occurred in Saturday's 42-20 loss to Northwestern, a game more closely fought than the final score indicated.
The Cougars fumbled the ball away on their first two possessions, resulting in Northwestern touchdowns.
The Trojans scored again with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter, staking the visitors to a 21-0 lead.
The Cougars scored off the lead option with 6:21 remaining in the second quarter when senior quarterback Adrion Crawford kept the ball and trotted into the end zone from 11 yards out.
York mounted another scoring threat late in the half that fell short when Northwestern's Chris long came up with the interception.
The Cougars turned the ball over in the early moments of the second half as the Trojans expanded the lead.
The YCHS team moved the ball effectively against one of the top five teams in the state when they stayed away from the turnover bug.
Junior quarterback Matt Haynie engineered a late scoring drive, culminating with a touchdown toss to Joseph Goines.
In his postgame remarks, Barrett recognized the positives to draw from the next two games.
"Offensively, we had some of our better downs of the season against a good football team," observed the YCHS coach. "We closed the gap and the defense played hard.
"It shows the character of these kids. Matt did a good job on the final drive."
With the focus shifting to Friday's game, senior offensive lineman Jamie Smith said the offense and defense need to step up.
"We've got to play hard the next two weeks and take it to our opponent," Smith said. "The offensive line needs to blow the opposition off the ball."
Senior defensive lineman Vinnie Lachimia said the Cougars need to approach the Nation Ford game the way they did Northwestern.
"We need to be ready to play mentally and physically and play smart," commented Lachimia. "We need to band together once again like we did tonight."