When the power blinked out for over an hour Friday at Rock Hill High, football coach Bubba Pittman was in the midst of offensive game-planning with one of his assistants.
They weren’t deterred. The pair whipped out their iPhones and worked by flashlight, preparing for one of the bigger games in the Bearcats’ recent football history, Saturday’s noon kickoff at South Pointe.
“Business as usual,” Pittman said with a smile.
Rock Hill’s 49-34 win over York last week certainly grabbed the public’s attention, and South Pointe’s. The Stallions (2-0) have beaten Rock Hill (1-1) in six straight, but most of those have been close contests in which the two-time defending state champs pulled away at the end.
“Any time you get to line up on the field against good competition – and South Pointe is the best competition – any time you get a chance to do that you’ve got an opportunity to make something happen,” Pittman said after Friday’s walk-through in the school gymnasium. “We’re hoping that we can get out there and play well and put on a good show.”
On paper, South Pointe doesn’t have quite as much motivation as the Bearcats. The Stallions are almost always the hunted team, and last week’s 24-10 win over Nation Ford was no different. South Pointe coach Strait Herron was pleased to get the win, but there wasn’t much else to be thrilled about.
“We didn’t play a very good game coming off the Northwestern week,” he said. “We were worried about how focused we would be. Hopefully we learned a valuable lesson.”
Four factors to consider in Saturday’s contest:
1 South Pointe plays on natural grass at District Three South Stadium, but it’ll more closely resemble Woodstock’s muddy mosh after consistent rain for much of Friday. Ball control will be a big factor, especially for South Pointe. The Stallions have so far proven to be a run-focused offense with Derion Kendrick at the reigns, and for good reason when considering Kendrick’s open-field ability and senior Voshon St. Hill’s sizzling start. The Stallion offensive line has been very solid the first two games, but even good blocking can be undone by a slippery pigskin.
2 Rock Hill ran 25 fewer plays than York last week, and still racked up over 500 yards of offense and 49 points. This Bearcat offense appears to have more pop than Pittman’s first two. Qua Brice and Kenny Agurs are both averaging over 14 yards per catch from slot positions, indicative of Rock Hill’s improved ability to move the ball vertically down the field, instead of relying solely on dinking and dunking toward the sideline. If Rock Hill can get some big gainers downfield on Saturday, they should be able to put some points on the board.
3 Rock Hill’s walk-through on Friday was as quiet as a convent. It was impressive, especially considering the weird day of school – loss of power and the anticipation of aggressive weather – that the kids had just been through. It appears Pittman’s team is focused; will South Pointe be? The Stallions occasionally play down to their opponents, but it’s hard to see them taking the rejuvenated Bearcats lightly.
4 Can Rock Hill get off to a fast start Saturday? South Pointe sure can. The Stallions led the 2014 matchup 21-0 before holding off a Rock Hill comeback, and were in front 20-7 in the first quarter last year before again staving off the Bearcats. Rock Hill appears to be improved this year, but no team on South Pointe’s schedule can afford to limp out of the gates against the Stallions.
Chester 36, W.J. Keenan 14
Lewisville 36, Buford 20
Lancaster 16, Fort Mill 14
South Meck at Northwestern
Indian Land at Blacksburg
Union County at York
Rock Hill at South Pointe, noon
Great Falls at Blackville-Hilda, 1 p.m.