YORK — Rock Hill’s District Three Stadium will be the scene of the state’s premier attraction when No. 1 ranked Northwestern plays host to No. 5 York Friday night.
Kickoff time for the Region 3-AAAA showdown is 7:30 p.m. before a crowd that could approach 10,000.
York Comprehensive High School head coach Bobby Carroll is aware of the Trojans’ rich football tradition. “I know what their program is all about,” said Carroll. “I coached there 22 years.”
He said this year’s Northwestern contingent is the real deal.
“The Trojans are better than they were last year, offensively and defensively,” said Carroll. “They have a Shrine Bowl quarterback who is committed to Oklahoma State and skill players who run 4.3 and 4.4 in the 40.”
The Northwestern quarterback is Mason Rudolph, a finalist for Mr. Football in South Carolina. Rudolph spearheaded the Trojans’ 42-20 win over Fort Mill last week.
The Trojans, ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation by one national poll, advanced to the state championship game last season, losing a nail-biter in overtime.
While the Trojans have earned elite team status, the Cougars have been on a tear, reeling off eight consecutive wins and scoring points in bunches.
YCHS quarterback Deshaw Andrews, who stands 6-foot, 4-inches tall and tips the scales at 230, gives the Trojans plenty to think about.
The junior signal-caller has completed six touchdown passes twice this season, including last week’s 66-24 conquest of Nation Ford.
York running back Ryan Moore, a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the three previous seasons, is threatening to exceed that total this season.
The Cougars are loaded at the wide receiver position with as many as a half-dozen quality receivers who can ramble for yardage after the catch, including evasive wideouts Daurice Simpson and Markel Castle.
Though Northwestern poses a stiff challenge, Carroll said he is confident the Cougars will be ready.
“We’re excited to be 8-0,” he said. “We’ll find out if we can play at that level.”
After visiting Nation Ford found success moving the ball through the air for much of the first half in last Friday’s game, the quick-strike Cougars scored 49 unanswered points to eliminate the suspense.
“Our kids responded once again,” said Carroll. “They are resilient.”
Carroll noted that the Cougar defense shut Nation Ford out in the second half. “We made defensive adjustments at the half, using Castle and Simpson at cornerback and safety,” he said.
Andrews was beaming with confidence after the game.
“This was a big game for us and a big win in the region,” Andrews said. “They kept up with us in the first half. We played better defense in the second half and got the offense clicking.”
But now Andrews said he is shifting his attention to Friday’s showdown with Northwestern. “It’s been talked about a long time,” he said. “We know it’s a big game.”
Moore, who impacted the Nation Ford game with 241 yards rushing, said the Cougars have responded to the challenge.
“Our offense responded and the defense had a strong second half,” he said. “It’s time to get serious about the Northwestern game. We need to have our greatest practice week ever.
“The team that makes the least mistakes will win.”
Said Simpson of the win over Nation Ford, “We got the offense going in the second half. Our offense is deadly. We are a big-play team.”
Senior offensive lineman Shuler Littlejohn, who stands 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, said he is counting the days for the Northwestern game.
“It will be awesome,” Littlejohn said. “Not many people get to play in a game this big. It’s really special for the seniors.”
YCHS placekicker Buddy Anderson got the Cougars on the board Friday with a 23-yard field goal after Nation Ford had stormed to a 10-0 first-quarter lead.
Andrews was able to spread the wealth to his receivers, completing touchdown tosses of 14 and 88 yards to Simpson and 11 and 42 yards to Kyron Schrouder.
He also had a 5-yard TD toss to Josh McCoy.
Rounding out the scoring, Moore had touchdown runs of 6 and 44 yards and Castle scored on a 5-yard run.