Rivalries as old and intense as the one that’ll come to District Three Stadium Friday night are undoubtedly better described through memories.
Talking about the all-time series record — Northwestern leads Rock Hill, 30-24 — doesn’t explain how or why Rock Hill head coach Bubba Pittman remembers where he sat in 1989, when Rock Hill’s Andy McCrorey caught the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to defeat the Trojans, a team that went on to win a state championship that year.
Stating that Northwestern has won seven of the last eight contests (losing in 2018), and that the Trojans have outscored the Bearcats 336-143 since 2011, doesn’t explain why Rock Hill players sometimes peer through the coaching staff’s office window while Pittman and other coaches watch Rock Hill versus Northwestern games of old.
And for certain it doesn’t tell the full story of why Pittman calls this “one of the greatest rivalries in the country.”
“I can remember back to when this was the first televised high school football game, back when Tim Jones and Tony Watkins and those guys were running around,” Pittman told The Herald after a practice this week. “It’s a really, really big game for our community.”
That said, as both coaches are aware, there’s more at stake Friday night than bragging rights and a favorable notch in the city’s archives: There are playoff implications — and numbers are involved.
“We’ve looked at the scenarios,” Northwestern head coach Page Wofford said. “We’ve seen and have been told what we have to do and all that sort of thing, all those different ways it could happen …
“But at the end of the day, we’re playing Rock Hill, and that’s what’s important, us trying to win this game against Rock Hill.”
The scenarios Wofford alluded to can be explained like this:
The top three teams in Region 3-5A make the playoffs. Clover has already clinched first place in the region.
If Northwestern defeats Rock Hill, Northwestern will be 2-2 in region play. That will cause a three-way tie for second in the region among the Trojans, the Bearcats (who’d also be 2-2) and the Falcons of Nation Ford (who’d also be 2-2).
The next tiebreaker would be head-to-head results. But since, in this hypothetical, Northwestern would have defeated Rock Hill; and Rock Hill defeated Nation Ford last week; and Nation Ford defeated Northwestern two weeks ago — that won’t break the three-way tie.
Ultimately, breaking the tie for second place would come down to this, as denoted in the Region 3-5A handbook and bylaws: “The team that gives up the fewest points in games involving the tied teams will be seeded higher.”
Once the tie is broken for second place, then the remaining two teams vying for third place would have their own head-to-head tiebreaker.
Conversely, if Rock Hill defeats Northwestern on Friday night, Nation Ford will finish third in the region, earning an automatic playoff berth, and Rock Hill will finish second.
“We want to set ourselves up for a good run,” Pittman said. “We want to make sure we get a home playoff game, so I think that’s the biggest thing that’s on the table.”
Full Friday night football schedule
All kickoffs are slated for 7:30 p.m.
Northwestern (2-7, 1-2) at Rock Hill (6-3, 2-1)
Listen: FM 100.1/AM 1340
Fort Mill (1-8, 0-3) at Clover (9-0, 3-0)
Clover is playing for an unbeaten regular season and momentum heading into the playoffs as the the top seed from the region. Fort Mill is playing for pride.
Listen: FM 104.1
Chapin (4-5) at Nation Ford (5-4, 2-2)
Nation Ford needs to get a win to regain momentum for its potential postseason run.
Listen: FM 94.3
York (4-5, 2-2) at South Pointe (9-0, 4-0)
South Pointe is playing for yet another unbeaten regular season. York is playing to continue momentum for the playoffs. Both teams are assured of postseason spots.
Listen: FM 107.1
Ridge View (5-4, 3-1) at Lancaster (2-7, 1-3)
Ridge View is already in the playoffs. Lancaster is out.
Listen: Cable 103
Indian Land (4-6, 1-2) at Fairfield Central (5-5, 2-1)
This game is big: An Indian Land win would give the Warriors third place in the region heading into the playoffs. A Fairfield Central win creates a three-way tie for first between the Griffins, Chester and Camden. They would apply a tiebreaker to settle the issue.
If that happens, Indian Land finishes fourth in the region.
Ardrey Kell (8-1) at Catawba Ridge (2-7)
Catawba Ridge would like a win to turn things around and close its first season on a positive note.
Lewisville (3-6, 1-4) at Chesterfield (3-6, 1-4)
Lewisville needs a win to get into the playoffs.
Great Falls (4-4, 0-2) at Timmonsville (2-7 , 0-2)
A Great Falls win gives the team two things: It means that the Red Devils earn a winning season, and it guarantees Great Falls a spot in the postseason. A Great Falls loss denies both of those possibilities.
Legion Collegiate (6-2) at Forest Hills (4-5)
Legion College has won four in a row.