High School Football

How did Rock Hill schools fare in Football City USA Kickoff?

Northwestern’s Jamario Holley, future Gamecock, begins his senior season

The Herald's Bret McCormick reflects on Northwestern's Jamario Holley, who will play football at the University of South Carolina in 2019.
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The Herald's Bret McCormick reflects on Northwestern's Jamario Holley, who will play football at the University of South Carolina in 2019.

Rock Hill schools swept the visitors from out of town in the 2017 WRHI Football City USA Kickoff. They weren’t as successful in 2018.

Scrimmage recaps

Northwestern 17, Providence (N.C.) 3

The Northwestern-Providence match-up commenced the Football City USA Kickoff, as the Trojans were the first Rock Hill team to handle their business with a 17-3 victory.

Providence hit a field goal for a 3-0 lead. Then a Panther tackler’s hit on Northwestern ball carrier Ghari Paige popped the ball loose. The Panthers recovered, but the Trojans stiffened defensively and forced a field goal. This time no good.

A deep bomb to Northwestern’s Jamar Moore set up a 23-yard Dustin “Dirt” Noller touchdown pass to Gregory Bivens Jr. in the right corner of the end-zone, giving the Trojans a 10-3 lead just before the half. It was the first of two “Dirt”-to-Bivens Jr. touchdown connections; a 56-yard toss early in the second half extended Northwestern’s lead to 17-3, and the continuous fourth quarter clock hit its final moments with the score unchanged.

Byrnes 14, South Pointe 7

The South Pointe Stallions are looking to make history this year. No public school in South Carolina has won five straight state titles.

The second Football City USA Kickoff match-up was the beginning of a new chapter in the Stallions’ storied history. Derion Kendrick, Eli Adams, and B.T. Potter are playing Power 5 college football, and defensive coordinator Jason Winstead landed a head coaching gig at Goose Creek.

Byrnes led 7-0 at halftime after B.J. Peake’s punched in a 1-yard run for a touchdown. South Pointe fumbled a punt deep in its own end of the field, setting up the Rebels’ score.

Josh McClure intercepted two passes in the third quarter for the Stallions, the first returned down to the Byrnes 10-yard line. Marice Whitlock then ran around the right end for a five-yard touchdown to tie the score.

South Pointe had a sluggish outing offensively, but Byrnes ran the ball successfully. Peak’s second touchdown, in the fourth quarter, pushed the visitors back in front, 14-7, and the Rebels stuffed South Pointe’s final drive to win the night’s second scrimmage.

Myers Park (N.C.) 21, Rock Hill 12

The Rock Hill Bearcats head to Sumter next week to open the 2018 season. It’d be hard to imagine Sumter would be as tough or big as Myers Park.

The Mustangs’ powerful junior receiver Muhsin Muhammad gave them a second quarter lead with a 14-yard TD snag in the left corner of the end zone. Elijah Bowick added a second TD in the second quarter, a 65-yard grab. A Bearcat defensive back was draped on him, but Bowick shrugged off the defender to jog into the end zone for a 14-0 lead, after the PAT.

Narii Gaither halved the deficit in the third quarter, the senior running back racing 15 yards right side for a touchdown, making the score 14-6 after the extra point missed. Myers Park fumbled, but a Mustang emerged from the scrum with the ball. Muhammad, the son of the former Carolina Panther of the same name, then reeled in a 42-yard catch to move the ball deep into Rock Hill turf and Myers Park scored a few plays later to stretch the lead to 21-6 late in the third quarter.

Gaither again cut into Myers Park’s lead with a 23-yard sprint straight up the gut for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Bearcats got a late interception but it came too late to overturn the deficit.

5 things that stood out

  • Friday’s scrimmage saw an uneven performance from Northwestern, but the Trojans’ receiving group looked studly. Jamario Holley got plenty of touches, with new offensive coordinator Knox Baggett making it clear he will feed the team’s South Carolina-committed star. Gregory Bivens Jr. made two nice catches for touchdowns; his emergence will be important for Holley to find some freedom on the field. And Ger-Cari Caldwell made a great catch on the right sideline, while Jamar Moore flashed reliable hands and some open field moves on a couple of plays later in the game.
  • If you’re a company looking to hold an in-game promotion, a 50-yard field goal for $10,000 is a pretty safe bet. None of the fans that came down out of the stands to try a 50-yard kick Friday night to win $5,000 for themselves and $5,000 for the Rock Hill school of their choice came remotely close with their attempts. Few Rock Hill citizens would.
  • #LifeAfterBT is now reality for South Pointe. With former Stallion B.T. Potter blasting kickoffs into Lake Hartwell down at Clemson, sophomore Omega Blake handled South Pointe’s kicking duties Friday night, with mixed results. Blake is a big prospect for South Pointe, but not because of his kicking abilities. Still, he’s unselfishly doing a job for the team and the coaching staff needs to keep working with him so that the kicking game isn’t a liability.
  • Speaking of South Pointe, the Stallions are again a-okay in the defensive secondary. Starting cornerbacks Jaylen Mahoney and Josh McClure intercepted three total passes against Byrnes, with McClure picking off a pair. Mahoney is committed to Wake Forest and has great size and hands, which he showed on an interception in the end zone against the Rebels. McClure said he expects to be tested more often than his buddy, and is ready for the challenge.
  • The three Rock Hill schools were firmly outsized by their counterparts on Friday night. That’s not that unusual -- the city has always been more known for athletes than behemoths -- and shouldn’t be a major factor in too many games this fall (though could be when Northwestern faces Dorman and Dutch Fork). But the overall size gap was clear in the Trojans’ scrimmage against Providence and Rock Hill’s contest against Myers Park. The difference for the two Charlotte squads was Myers Park had the athletes and play-makers that Providence largely lacked. It should be a good year for the Mustangs up in the Queen City.
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