York Comprehensive High School athletic director Steve Boyd and Clover High School AD Carroll Hester are dialed into Friday’s long-awaited football rivalry.
Boyd, a former York football standout and Shrine Bowl participant, has emotional ties to the annual clash.
“This rivalry game has been going on for close to a hundred years,” said Boyd. “It’s one of the oldest rivalries in the state. We’re about 7 or 8 miles apart. When these two schools get together, whether it’s football or anything, you can throw out the records. Anything can take place. It’s always very competitive.”
Hester also views Friday’s showdown with anticipation. “It’s always an exciting week,” Hester said. “We look at it as a big game for us. It has so much tradition.”
Boyd said he was concerned about his team’s frame of mind when he was York’s head coach in the big rivalry game.
“I wanted our kids to be focused for the Clover game and for the playoff game the following week,” said Boyd, whose York teams advanced to the playoffs each of his 11 years as head coach.
“I always tried to explain to the kids that the York-Clover game could go either way,” Boyd said. “There have been years when one of the teams was picked to win by three or four touchdowns and it didn’t go that way. You never know about this game.”
Boyd remembers the dramatic conclusion of the rivalry game two years ago at Clover. “They had the lead in the fourth quarter and had the ball at about the 15-yard line,” he said. “A penalty stopped their drive.”
Hester agreed. He vividly remembers underdog Clover’s fourth quarter lead that year. “It’s funny the way it works,” he said. “That’s part of it. The records going into the game don’t mean a while lot.”
Boyd knows about the enormous appeal of the York-Clover game. “You get some people to come to this game that may not have been to a game all year because it’s a rivalry game. They want to see that.”
Hester agreed. “Fans from both sides have close ties to this football game,” he said.
Boyd noted that the rivalry splits both communities and reaches beyond the teams.
“It’s good for the bands, cheerleaders and everybody,” he said. “It’s just a great Friday night football event. “Most of the time, it’s the biggest crowd either team will play in front of.”
With three high schools in Rock Hill and two in Fort Mill, the schools divide the fan bases in those areas. As a result, Boyd maintains that the York-Clover skirmish draws more fans than any rivalry in the tri-county area.
“York and Clover are one school district communities,” he said. “It brings out more fans. Not many schools have that anymore.”
Football has seen smaller crowds due to rain and lightning this season, and Hester said he hopes the 8,000 or so fans expected could help recoup some of the athletic department’s financial losses.
“I certainly hope so,” he said. “Our gates weather-wise have been smaller. I’m hoping that this game will make a big difference.”