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Riding the momentum of consecutive wins over region power South Pointe and longtime rival Clover in the 100th game of the western York County classic Friday night, the York Comprehensive High School football team shifts its focus to the season that really counts.
The Cougars, 9-2 for the season and 5-2 in Region 3-AAAA, travel to Laurens Friday to open the 2012 playoffs. Kickoff time is set for 7:30 p.m. against the Raiders of Region 1-AAAA — who are 8-3 for the season and no stranger to the high school playoff scene.
Laurens has been a model of consistency, winning at least eight games each season since 1997.
YCHS head football coach Bobby Carroll said the Cougars' first-round draw in the playoffs is a formidable opponent.
“Laurens is an outstanding football team,” said Carroll. “They are a well-coached team with a winning tradition.”
While the Cougar defensive scheme is designed to stop the pass, the Raiders feature a ground-oriented attack.
“Laurens runs the ball out of the spread,” said Carroll. “They have a big-time running back.”
Added the YCHS mentor, “We will have to stop the run. Laurens is a tough draw to open the playoffs.”
Carroll said the key to success this coming Friday night is to play fundamental football, tackle well and protect the football.
“We don't want to give them a short field,” he said. “We want to make them go 80 yards.”
With the Cougars opening the playoffs on the road against a tradition-rich team, Carroll is hoping for a large turnout.
“We'll need great support from our fans like we've had all year,” he said.
Senior offensive lineman Riley Koran recognizes the need for playoff readiness as the Cougars seek another deep run into the postseason.
“The key to success for the offensive linemen is to execute as a unit and stay with our blocks,” said Koran.
“Blocking schemes are complicated in today's game,” he noted. “A lot of people do not realize how difficult it is to carry out blocking assignments and to make necessary adjustments during the game.
“We need to continue sound execution in the playoffs.”
Senior mainstay Spencer Carroll, a three-year starter at quarterback, said the playoffs represent a new season.
“It's what we've worked for since the preseason,” said Carroll. “We'll have to step it up at practice more than we have all season.”
The Cougars scored early and often in a 54-0 win over the visiting Blue Eagles.
The Blue Eagles were unable to move the ball on the opening possession of the game and punted to the Cougars.
Clover's defense forced a three-and-out as Blue Eagle fans applauded the effort.
Later, with the Blue Eagles facing fourth down in the shadow of their end zone, York senior linebacker Ty Currence blocked a punt attempt and carried the pigskin into the end zone for the game's first score.
After the Cougar defense forced a three-and-out, Shrine Bowl-bound Lee Wright's 45-yard punt return pushed the lead to 14-0.
On its next possession, York kept the ball on the ground, with junior running back Ryan Moore gaining huge chunks of yardage.
The 51-yard drive culminated with senior Jesse Maturo penetrating the end zone from two yards out, staking the Cougars to a 19-0 lead with 35 seconds left in the first quarter.
The remainder of the scoring for the Cougars included touchdown receptions of 11 and 18 yards for Kyron Schrouder and Tay Neely, Rainey Moore's return of a blocked punt and Ryan Moore's two rushing touchdowns.
“We were a little sluggish to start the game and picked up the pace,” Carroll said after the game. “The kids responded and the defense got the shutout in the 100th game of the York-Clover rivalry.”
Carroll lauded the Blue Eagle players for staying the course under difficult circumstances.
“The Clover team faced adversity this year and never quit, which says a lot about their kids,” he said.