High School Sports

Who is best in S.C. prep football?

Rock Hill Bearcats coach Joe Montgomery's team has been hit hard by injuries, but it keeps on winning. Rock Hill is on the road at Irmo this Friday.
Rock Hill Bearcats coach Joe Montgomery's team has been hit hard by injuries, but it keeps on winning. Rock Hill is on the road at Irmo this Friday.

Got an interesting call today.

Seems like the reputation of high school football played in South Carolina is growing as each day passes.

The guy on the other end was from a national high school Web site and wanted to know how I'd compare football to the variety played in Virginia.

Virginia? Do they play football in Virginia?

Sure they do, but with everything going on in our football-crazy state this year, Virginia might as well be off the coast of Alaska as far as I, and I'm sure most of you, is concerned.

It started with Byrnes after the Rebels climbed to No. 1 in USA Today's national poll earlier this season. At the same time, Maxpreps.com and CalPreps.com had four South Carolina teams ranked in its top 25 -- Byrnes, South Pointe, Dorman and Northwestern.

Dorman beat Byrnes on a rainy Saturday night and knocked the Rebels out of the USA Today poll. But South Pointe, which won that weekend, moved up to No. 1 in the two high school Internet sites.

Since then, fans from that side of the Upper State have moaned and groaned the polls mean nothing. It wasn't that way before Byrnes got beat. And after that happened, there was much conversation of the various state message boards that Dorman, not South Pointe, should be No. 1.

Oh, well. Didn't work out that way. After all, polls don't mean anything.

Then there was talk about this part of the state not having good teams, that the competition was nowhere near as strong over our way.

Wonder what those folks think now.

Of the six teams that started the Class AAAA playoffs last week, five won first-round games. One of those involved two local teams -- Northwestern beat York.

How about those apples?

If you count in Gaffney, the former stepchild of Region 2-AAAA and a member of 3-AAAA -- the count is seven teams.

Gaffney, one of the most traditional programs in the state with a string of state championships hanging from its belt, was third in the region because the Indians lost to Northwestern and Clover.

All Gaffney did in the first round was head toward Charleston and knock the light out of Summerville, 40-20.

How about Lancaster? The Bruins went on the road and scored the winning touchdown with 45 seconds left in a 14-10 victory over another storied teams, Greenwood.

But the guy wanted to know, how about Byrnes and Dorman? Would South Pointe stand a chance against either of them? Heck -- that's the cleaned up version -- I shot back at him. By three or four TDs.

Then I admitted I'm biased before telling him we have several teams that can play with those two.

Northwestern could. Clover has, just to lose because of turnovers and mistakes, but that's part of football. Rock Hill would have a chance.

Give me Clover, Northwestern, Rock Hill and South Pointe, I told him, and bring on the world. The hardest parts would be picking who would coach what because we are blessed with good head coaches and assistants -- but so is most parts of the state.

I told him, the tough part of the whole thing for fans around the state is that we will never know. Dorman and Byrnes are in Division I and on the same side of the bracket. That means a rematch would take place in the semifinals, not the championship.

Clover is in the same bracket, and if the Blue Eagles upset Byrnes on Friday, would it really be an upset? The Blue Eagles are good.

Rock Hill is in the lower bracket and has a shot at getting to the final game.

Northwestern and South Pointe are in Division II and are in different brackets. If they play again, it'll be for the state title on a likely to be cold night in Clemson Dec. 5.

Although it pains me to admit it, I have to agree with the Byrnes fans. They owned Division II for years before moving up the last two. Their first, last season, they won another state title.

One of their fans said all of those years in Division II, he felt his teams was looked down on because they were not a Division I school. He said Clover should have felt it last year when the Blue Eagles won the lower division's state title, and that Northwestern or South Pointe will feel it two if either of them win.

It's called respect. The quick fix would be to find a way to either put all the teams in the same playoffs or let the two championship butt heads after their title games.

Neither likely will happen. That's a shame.

Lewisville coach Floyd Drum was outspoken when Class A went to two championships three years ago. His arguments were plenty, but one was that there should be only one state champ.

That, coach Drum, says it all. Hopefully soon, people will start listening.

• NOTES: There was some confusion last Saturday night as to which Bruins' player caught a 62-yard TD pass. It wasn't Shane Carter as reported. It was tailback Zed Truesdale, who also ran in the game-winning touchdown...Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery said TB Jamal Tyler cracked his hip bone and is done for the year, and so is linebacker Brandon Jackson, who fractured his arm last week, but that TE Asa Watson will likely be back after sitting out last week with a concussion...Clover fullback Ricky Moore missed last week's game with a dislocated shoulder. There is a good chance he'll be back this Friday.

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