YORK — Winning breeds winning. And York Comprehensive High School head football coach Bobby Carroll wouldn’t have it any other way.
Carroll built the South Pointe football program before accepting the head coaching position at YCHS, and had a huge assist in molding Northwestern into elite status as Jimmy “Moose” Wallace’s defensive coordinator for 22 years.
The YCHS football team hasn’t yet played for a state championship in Columbia’s Williams-Brice Stadium, but three straight 10-win seasons and frequent appearances in the 4A top 10 high school football polls are helping restore a once proud football tradition and spreading optimism in and about Cougar Country.
“We aren’t there yet but we’ve had three 10-win seasons,” Carroll said after Friday’s 39-7 loss to the No. 1 ranked Northwestern Trojans in second-round playoff action at Rock Hill’s District Three Stadium. “I am proud of our players and coaches.
The Cougar defense held the potent Northwestern offense in check on its first possession Friday, forcing a three-and-out after the Trojans’ initial first down.
The YCHS team showed some offensive punch, moving the ball from its 21 to the Trojan 31, where the drive stalled on fourth-and-5.
Key plays in the drive included quarterback Deshaw Andrews’ first-down toss to Kyron Schrouder at the York 34.
After Andrews advanced the pigskin to the 42 on a keeper, the Cougar signal-caller found Josh McCoy open at for first-down yardage at midfield. Another pass to McCoy and hard inside running by Ryan Moore moved the ball to Northwestern’s 31, where the Trojans took over on downs.
With Shrine Bowl quarterback Mason Rudolph leading the way, Northwestern scored on its next two possessions, the first on a 21-yard TD toss to Quadarius Fair, with a 14-yard aerial from Rudolph to Fair accounting for the second score with 57.2 seconds left in the first quarter.
A two-point conversion try was no good as the home-standing Trojans held a 12-0 lead.
Senior wideout Markel Castle returned the ensuing kickoff to the Northwestern 40, igniting his teammates as well as a large contingent of York fans.
Moments later, Andrews lofted the ball to junior wide receiver Daurice Simpson, who gathered in the aerial and rambled to the Northwestern 11.
However, the Trojans held on fourth-and-1 and drove nearly the length of the field, culminating with Rudolph’s 1-yard plunge for a 19-0 lead with 5:13 remaining in the second quarter.
Then the Cougars put together a 74-yard drive. On second down at York’s 33, Andrews got the ball to Moore, who gained first-down yardage to the 40.
Another aerial to Moore advanced the pigskin to the Northwestern 40. Later in the drive, Andrews found McCoy open at the 15 for first down. On the next play, Andrews got the ball to Simpson, who went airborne to reach the end zone as York fans roared in approval.
With Northwestern leading 19-7, the game was still in doubt at halftime, but the Trojans used a 20-point third-quarter scoring barrage to seal the win.
“We weren’t able to punch it from a yard out in the red zone and the punt return hurt us,” said Carroll.
Andrews completed 25 of 30 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Simpson had three receptions for 71 yards and a TD. McCoy was next with eight receptions for 55 yards.
Moore gained 64 tough rushing yards on 18 carries and Andrews added 25 yards on 10 carries.
Despite the season-ending loss, the YCHS coach sees a brighter light at the end of the tunnel.
“All of the losses have been to Rock Hill schools except for last year’s loss at Nation Ford,” he said.
The Cougars aren’t without marquee victories during the team’s three-year emergence as a top 10 program, including wins at Daniel and South Pointe, double wins over mega powerhouse Gaffney and this year’s conquest of defending state champ Greenwood.
“The kids have got to hit the weight room year-round,” declared Carroll. “Some of our opponents are more physical than we are.”
With state title successes during his association with the Northwestern and South Pointe programs, the YCHS coach knows what it takes to reach the mountain top.
Carroll, the assistant coaches and returning Cougar players will pursue the ultimate prize with unrelenting commitment.
“Our fans are the greatest of all,” he said. “The support base here is unbelievable.”