YORK — The York Comprehensive High School football team will have been battled-tested for the Aug. 23 season opener against the Chester Cyclones.
The Cougars will have finished extensive preseason preparations, including scrimmages against Richland Northeast and Ashbrook preceding Friday’s Bank of York Preseason Scrimmage at the YCHS football stadium.
The Cougars have prepared during football camp and morning three-hour drills on the YCHS artificial turf.
Though nine starters are missing from last year’s senior-dominated defensive unit and several key players gone from the offensive side, head coach Bobby Carroll knows the Cougars don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
“The kids have worked hard meeting the demands of the offseason, football camp and preseason,” Carroll said after a grueling morning practice on the YCHS turf last week.
Senior standout Lawrence Adams, a returning defensive starter, said he is keenly aware of the need to reload, yet he is undaunted by the task.
Adams was a warrior last season, rotating from defensive end to defensive tackle. This year, the senior mainstay is occupying the middle linebacker position on the defensive side of the ball.
“I feel that we can keep the defense where it needs to be,” said Adams, who has assumed a leadership role this season. “We have talented players moving up from last year’s successful JV team. We have a good coaching staff that will keep us playing at the same level.”
Senior Ryan Moore, one of the premier running backs in the Upstate, knows the difference between reloading and rebuilding. Moore, one of the few running backs in the state to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past three seasons, is optimistic.
“We have a great offensive line, big, strong and talented,” said Moore. “They will get the job done. All I have to do is run in space.”
Senior center Thomas Broom is the smallest across the offensive front at 245 pounds. Two starting linemen are in the 330-pound range.
Though the Cougars will miss the field presence of three-year quarterback Spencer Carroll, Moore believes signal-caller candidates Deshaw Andrews and Jerome Pattiway can get it done.
“We have talent at quarterback and wide receiver,” Moore said.
He is mindful of the defensive unit’s challenge of replacing nine starters, but said he sees progress. “We have players filling the roles on defense,” said Moore. “It’s a matter of everything coming together for the season.”
Carroll and the other Cougar coaches are continuing to evaluate personnel. “We have a great group of kids who continue to buy into the system,” said Carroll.
Carroll said the talent level fluctuates from year to year.
“It’s not always about the talent you have each year,” said Carroll. “Everybody’s not a Jadeveon Clowney. If we can take a below-average player and make him an average player, that’s what we do.”
While the Cougars face a demanding schedule, Carroll says there are seven home games and nine on turf. The Cougars face quality opponents from start to finish, beginning with Union County in Friday’s Bank of York Preseason Scrimmage, followed by Chester in next week’s regular-season opener.
Union County advanced to the state championship game last season and Chester is among the favorites for the Class AAA title this year.
Following the Cougars’ season opener at home against the Cyclones from Chester County, there will be a rare open date Aug. 30.
After a trip to Boiling Springs Sept. 6, there will be four home games, against Gaffney, Keenan, Rock Hill and Fort Mill. Next will be a trip to Lancaster Oct. 11, followed by a home game with Nation Ford.
The Cougars play at Northwestern Oct. 25, followed by a home game with South Pointe before closing out the regular season in Blue Eagle Country’s Memorial Stadium.