York-South Pointe looks like a toss-up.
Friday night’s game could come down to which team’s quarterback makes the first mistake. Neither York’s Cameron McKinney nor South Pointe’s Greg Ruff have turned the ball over yet in two games this season, and while any team would gladly welcome safe quarterback play, that fact may benefit York more than South Pointe. McKinney’s solid play at QB enables York to play its best athlete - Wally Wilmore - all over the field and on both sides of the ball.
“This offense - this whole short pass to open up the run - (McKinney) is that type of quarterback,” said York coach Bobby Carroll. “He’s been real efficient in throwing the ball short. If they cover them it allows us to run the ball. We haven’t taken many sacks this year and he’s just done a good job of managing the offense.”
Cameron McKinney is 42-for-48 passing; Wally Wilmore hit both of his two pass attempts, putting the Cougars at 88 percent completions thus far.
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McKinney arrived at York from Rock Hill High School, and is still winning over his teammates, according to Carroll. But he’s made great strides in that department because of his commitment during an offseason in which he didn’t miss any workouts or 7-on-7’s. Wilmore, the standout junior who some thought might take over for graduated QB Deshaw Andrews, will still play some quarterback and excite the crowd and his teammates. But the Cougars want to ride McKinney as long as he’s productive.
“Cameron’s a competitor, man. He comes out there and works every single solitary day,” said Carroll. “He loves the game and the competition and he’s a big part of us being 2-0 right now.”
Standing just 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds or so, McKinney is an obvious candidate for the underdog template. He actually might fit inside the shadow of Andrews, the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder playing junior college football in Kansas. But McKinney’s underdog persona resonates with Carroll.
“He kind of fits the York mold,” said the coach.
Taking care of the ball will be paramount against South Pointe, a football machine that’s only sustenance at times, it seems, is the turnovers of other teams. Because of his height, McKinney does have to find sight-lines and throwing lanes, a problem compounded by the big offensive linemen in front of him. He’s not a QB that will throw the ball 40 yards downfield very often, but that’s mattered little in the first two games. The Cougars have a bevy of skill players, including three good running backs and five or six receivers that are all shifty and dangerous, including Wilmore.
(McKinney’s) done a good job spreading it around to different people. When Wally’s in there, his eyes aren’t just glued to Wally.
York coach Bobby Carroll
Those receivers aren’t the 6-foot-4, lob it up and let them catch it-types. York is only averaging 9.1 yards per completion, a product of a catch-and-run offense that’s become pretty common in high school football. It’s helped McKinney and the Cougars keep turnovers down, control the clock and take advantage of open-field ability. Throw in the 5.4-yard-per-carry average from the primary backs - Brandon Garvin, Paul Moore and Tyquan McCray - and you get an offense averaging 40 points after two games.
“We could care less about statistics and completions,” Carroll said. “We just don’t want turnovers, missed tackles and missed assignments.”
No. 1 South Pointe’s quarterback, the 5-foot-9 Ruff, has been pretty efficient in his own right. The senior gun-slinger is completing 70 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions through two games, and the choice of pass recipients he enjoys would certainly be the envy of most high school QBs. Senior receiver Quay Brown received a scholarship offer from Tennessee State on Wednesday, becoming the fifth Stallion defensive back/wide receiver with a Division I offer on the table.
Two Fridays in, South Pointe is averaging over 400 yards of offense and 31.5 points per game
Ruff and South Pointe had their worst game of the 2014 championship season against York, a 48-7 shellacking. The Stallions scored first, then gave up 48 straight to the Cougars.
“We just clicked, and you have those nights,” said Carroll. “It happened when I coached South Pointe all the time. We scored every imaginable way you can score in football. We had a good night and South Pointe didn’t have a good night. I’m sure that will be motivation for them.”
In last year’s surprising blowout, York enjoyed a bunch of those mid-air side-bump celebrations that are so commonplace these days in high school sports. McKinney’s continued safety with the football would go a long way toward another night full of them for the Cougars.
2006: York 20, South Pointe 10
2007: South Pointe 38, York 19
2008: South Pointe 40, York 7
2009: South Pointe 35, York 0
2010: South Pointe 56, York 7
2011: South Pointe 38, York 15 (3A Upper State championship); South Pointe 39, York 23
2012: South Pointe 31, York 28 (4A second round); York 31, South Pointe 17 (Cougars’ only win at District Three South Stadium)
2013: South Pointe 27, York 10
2014: York 48, South Pointe 7