YORK — With longtime rival Clover next on the agenda, the York Comprehensive High School football team is in bounce-back mode as regular-season play winds down.
The Cougars, ranked in the top-10 in 4A classification most of the year, will be seeking to rebound from consecutive losses to Region 3-AAAA power programs Northwestern and South Pointe.
While the YCHS players have visions of making a run in the state playoffs, possibly to include another shot at Northwestern, South Pointe or both, head coach Bobby Carroll said the focus is the renewal of one of the Palmetto State’s most celebrated rivalries.
The Cougars make the 8-mile trek to Blue Eagle Country Friday for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Memorial Stadium.
Carroll called upstart Blue Eagles a dangerous team under first-year head coach Chad Smith.
“In addition to the win over Lancaster, Clover’s been competitive in a good many games against strong opposition this year,” said Carroll. “They are the best 1-9 team in the country.”
Carroll, who is familiar with Ladarius Adams and Clover’s double-wing success, said Smith has generated excitement in Blue Eagle Country.
“He has the program headed in the right direction,” said Carroll. “York-Clover is a great rivalry game. You can throw the record books out the window.”
York senior linemen Quinton Killian and Shuler Littleton both say they know what the York-Clover rivalry is all about.
“We have the big rivalry game with Clover to prepare for and the playoffs the following week,” said Killian. “We always look forward to playing Clover.”
Littleton agreed. “We have to keep our heads up and put the South Pointe loss behind us,” said Littleton. “We have the Clover game coming up, a big rivalry game that means a lot to our seniors.”
After the Cougar’s 27-10 home loss to South Pointe last week, Carroll lauded the Stallions’ defensive front.
“That’s probably the best defense we’ve faced all year,” Carroll said. “We had too many mistakes and missed opportunities. The blame is on me. We’ve got to be ready to play each week.”
The Cougars had the upper hand in the early stages of the game, mounting a 68-yard drive on the game’s first possession that left the YCHS team one foot from the goal on third down.
But running back Ryan Moore was nailed for a loss at the five and Buddy Anderson’s 22-yard field goal attempt narrowly missed.
A key play in the drive was quarterback DeShaw Andrews’ 24-yard scamper to the South Pointe 40.
Later in the drive, with the Cougars in possession at the South Pointe 27, Moore advanced the pigskin to the eight, eluding would-be tacklers along the way.
After an exchange of punts, the Cougars were in business again, thanks to Daurice Simpson’s electrifying punt return to the South Pointe 25.
Andrews’ pass to Markel Castle advanced the ball to the 19. Later, on fourth down, Andrews found wide receiver Kyron Schrouder open and delivered a 19-yard scoring toss.
South Pointe answered with 37 seconds left in the first quarter when quarterback Zaylin Burris heaved a touchdown toss to teammate Kyle Brandt. The two-point conversion fell short, leaving the Cougars with a 7-6 lead.
The Stallions scored with 5:27 left in the second quarter and pushed across another score late in the third quarter.
Anderson’s 33-yard field goal in the final seconds of the third quarter sliced the lead to 20-10 and the lead held, with South Pointe scoring on a 1-yard sneak in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
The Cougars will find out who their playoff opponent will be after Friday’s game with rival Clover. A win would improve their seeding, while a loss would result in a tougher draw.