YORK — After holding off rival Clover in a 13-10 nail-biter, the York Comprehensive High School Cougars are sharpening their claws for Friday’s playoff opener at Greenwood, with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.
Greenwood has won nine state championships in three classifications, including last year’s state title win over Northwestern in the Class AAAA District II showdown.
York Coach Bobby Carroll said the Eagles run a variation of the double-wing that differs from Clover with the use of splits to open up running lanes.
“They are a young team, with a good many sophomores and juniors in the lineup,” Carroll said.
The Eagles finished second in Region 1-AAAA with a 6-1 slate, while Hillcrest was the top region team with a 7-0 record.
Other playoff-bound teams from the region are Laurens with a 5-2 record at No. 3 and Easley No. 4 with a 4-3 slate.
The Eagles enter the playoffs against the Cougars riding the momentum of a six-game winning streak.
The Cougars wasted little time dotting the scoreboard in the annual neighborhood squabble with Clover.
With several thousand energetic fans barely settling into their seats at Memorial Stadium, junior York quarterback Deshaw Andrews found a seam and broke it to the outside, eluding would-be tacklers and regaining his balance near the 10-yard-line before finding the end zone.
Andrews’ scoring run covered 53 yards. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, but the Cougars moved ahead 6-0.
With Clover’s senior running back Ladarius Adams leading the way with 201 yards rushing on 41 carries, the home-standing Blue Eagles executed the double-wing T to near perfection behind quarterback Scott Jackson.
A 76-yard time-consuming drive culminated with Adam Edmunds’ 31-yard field goal with the clock running down, slicing York’s lead in half (6-3) as the teams departed the field for halftime.
The Blue Eagles began the second half clicking on all cylinders, moving the chains with regularity in putting together a 15-play drive.
Adams penetrated the end zone from three yards out, staking Clover to a 10-6 lead with 2:42 remaining in the third quarter.
With Andrews hooking up with senior wideout Josh McCoy on crucial downs, the Cougars responded with a crisp10-play, 64-yard drive.
It was a 10-yard Andrews-to-McCoy aerial and Buddy Anderson’s point after that put the Cougars ahead to stay with 11:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The visiting YCHS team held on down the stretch for a hard fought win.
“Clover came to play and our kids responded,” Carroll said. “I am proud of them.”
Carroll complimented the Blue Eagles’ gritty effort.
“Coach Chad Smith is doing a good job and has the Clover football program in the right direction; they showed that tonight,” he said.
Though senior Cougar lineman Shuler Littleton and junior wide receiver Daurice Simpson were pleased with the win over rival Clover, each shifted his thoughts to Friday’s playoff opener.
“It’s a new season,” Littleton said. “We need to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Simpson’s view of what it will take to be successful in the playoffs:
“The key offensively is our receivers catching the ball in space and running for yardage after the catch.”
Senior running back Ryan Moore spoke of the Blue Eagles’ stiff challenge in the annual rivalry game.
“Clover played well,” Moore said of the team he played for his freshman year. “Adams is a good running back.”
Moore has his thoughts about postseason play.
“We’ve got to get the offense back to being productive,” he said. “The playoffs allow the opportunity to do that and to make a run.”
The Greenwood-York winner faces the Northwestern-West Florence survivor in next week’s second round.