Under normal circumstances, York’s Cam Steele would be racing after Richland Northeast quarterback Josh Boyd this Friday, trying to sack him behind the line of scrimmage.
But it’s unclear if Boyd will ever evade another sack after the teenager suffered a heart attack while playing pickup basketball on Oct. 10.
York is raising money to financially help Boyd’s recovery from open heart surgery, which was successful according to Cavaliers coach Bennett Weigle. York football players are taking up donations for Boyd during all lunch periods at the school this week. York coach Bobby Carroll said the final total raised was around $4,000. The money will be presented to Boyd’s family Friday night when York travels to Richland Northeast to face the Cavaliers.
“It really hit us,” said York running back Stephen Oglesby, who appeared in a social media video with Steele talking about the efforts to help Boyd. “Seventeen years old and he suffered a heart attack, man, that could be any of us in this locker room.”
While Carroll’s team -- winners of four straight games -- heads in the direction of the postseason, the 1-6 Cavaliers are enduring a challenging campaign. Weigle’s squad has dropped five straight games by a combined 240-11. South Pointe cheerleaders held a banner supporting Boyd before the Stallions’ game against the Cavaliers in Rock Hill last Friday, but that didn’t prevent the Stallions from putting a 68-0 beating on the visitors. (The banner was given to Weigle after the game, who took it to Charleston where Boyd is recovering.)
Boyd’s life-threatening moment was a much more serious turn in the Cavaliers’ 2018. He was playing basketball with some friends at a sports complex when the incident happened. Fatefully, a group of firefighters were playing at the same gym and likely saved Boyd’s life, according to a WIS TV interview with fire captain Kareem Spain.
“Those guys could have played anywhere that day,” he said,” but this our first time playing at this gym and I think it’s just the grace of God that we was at the right place at the right time.”
Competitive natures get tossed aside when something so scary happens to a teenager.
“I can only imagine... I can’t imagine what’s going through the parents’ mind, his mind, because you know he probably had hopes and dreams of being an NBA player or and NFL player, and it might still happen, but that’s just got to be devastating,” Carroll said. “It’s a family of football. We’re opponents for a couple of hours on Friday, but anytime else I don’t really look at it like that.”
York players echoed that feeling. They seem like a bunch with some unusual perspective, these Cougars. Boyd’s heart attack hit Steele and Oglesby, and many of their teammates, deeply. That’s not surprising given the outpouring of emotions on display after the Cougars’ fourth straight win last Friday, over Lancaster. Hugs and happiness prevailed. Carroll’s team isn’t afraid to show its feelings for each other, or others outside the program.
The loving vibe in the York program is a product of leadership by Steele and Oglesby and some of the other seniors. They grew up together so it’s nothing that just blossomed this season. The concern for teammates (and opponents) will help Josh Boyd this week, and -- less importantly -- has helped York steer its season in a different direction after a rough start.
“This is a different group, a different kind of football team,” Carroll said. “Our chemistry was all whacked up at the first of the season but over the last month these kids have really rallied around each other. Nobody’s quit working or quit trying to do what we set out to do in the beginning and good things have happened to us.”
York had a bunch of new players, a new defensive scheme and a new offensive coordinator, and simply wasn’t fundamentally ready at the start of the season. But a bye week coupled with Hurricane Florence’s trip through the Carolinas afforded the Cougars some time to return to those fundamentals and sort out little issues that were causing big problems.
“We had to just start over almost,” said Carroll.
Steele thought getting pounded by Dorman in the third game was actually a turning point for the Cougars. They haven’t lost since then. This week’s actions have proved that again.
“Just great boys, great players. They were voted captains of this team, two of the captains of this team,” said Carroll. “That’s what captains do, they lead. They’re just good people.”