South Pointe’s 2017 high school football state championship team became Rock Hill’s 13th since 1972, and 16th overall.
Football City USA has had at least one football state champ in seven of the last eight years, with 2012 the only exception. Eleven of the 13 championships since the schools desegregated were won in the last 16 years.
2017 South Pointe - Herron’s fifth title team in seven years scored a school record 711 points and finished fourth in USA Today’s national rankings. This group of Stallions, led by All-Americans Derion Kendrick and B.T. Potter and a host of other college football recruits, finished 15-0, beating Hartsville in the state finals for the third time in four years.
2016 South Pointe - this team’s only loss came to St. Frances Academy, near Baltimore, Md. The Stallions, led on defense by all-star game participants Ken’darius Fredrick, Bryson Cooper and Cort Neely, survived a double overtime Upper State championship game against South Aiken, before handling Hartsville in the championship.
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2015 Northwestern - lost the season-opener to Byrnes before winning 14 straight, including a 63-13 blowout of Lexington in the 4A Division II final. Richardson’s last team at Northwestern was led by multiple college talents, including running back Jerry Howard and QB Gage Moloney.
2015 South Pointe - Herron’s team shut out Midland Valley 35-0 in 3A final. The Stallions’ only loss was to Northwestern by one point and their defense was led by a number of future college players, including defensive back Nick McCloud. QB Greg Ruff threw just one interception in 364 pass attempts, his lone pick coming in the state championship blowout.
2014 South Pointe - started 2-3 before winning 10 straight games. The Stallions, led by linebacker pair Ty Barber and Demon Davis and three really good receivers (Josh Wilkes, Quay Brown and Deshawn Davis), won close playoff games against Seneca 19-15 and Belton Honea-Path 23-20 in overtime, before thumping A.C. Flora in the Upper State final and holding off Hartsville in the 3A championship game.
2013 Northwestern - an offensive juggernaut led by QB Mason Rudolph and 1,000-yard receivers Quadarius Fair and Dupree Hart. Kyle Richardson’s first state title team scored 724 points during a 15-0 season, blasting Stratford 62-35 in the 4A Division II state final. The Trojans topped 50 points six times in 15 games.
2011 South Pointe - Strait Herron’s first season as head coach ended with a 14-1 record, the only loss coming against Spartanburg. This team forced 41 turnovers, led by Cory Neely’s seven interceptions and three fumble recoveries. South Pointe knocked off Bluffton in the 3A state championship game.
2010 Northwestern - QB Justin Worley and WR Robert Joseph set multiple state records, while the team’s defense was led by Rod Byers, Gerald Dixon Jr., and Devonte Gibson. The Trojans scored at least 41 points in every playoff game, sending longtime coach Wallace into retirement with a state title.
2008 South Pointe - Bobby Carroll’s state title team steamrolled its way to a 15-0 season. The Stallion defense held 10 opponents below 10 points, shutting out five. South Pointe, led by Antwan Roseboro and future NFL players Stephon Gilmore and Devonte Holloman, beat Northwestern in the 4A Division II state title game. Finished ranked third nationally by MaxPreps, the highest national ranking for a Rock Hill school.
Correction: an earlier version of this story said the 2017 South Pointe team was the highest ranked; the 2008 team was.
2004 Rock Hill - lost to Northwestern in the regular season finale before beating Hillcrest, Gaffney, Northwestern (7-6), and Stratford in the Big 16 final. The Bearcats, who only returned 11 starters from the previous season but were led by a mammoth offensive line and running back Travis Neely, posted four shutouts en route to a 13-2 final record. This was Ringer’s last season as head coach.
2002 Rock Hill - the Bearcats, who lost in the Upper State championship each of the previous two seasons, polished off Irmo to win the Big 16 state title and finish 15-0. Jim Ringer’s team was based on defense and running the football and was led by do-everything Jonathan Hefney, running back Michael Graham and future NFL player Ko Simpson.
1993 Northwestern - the Trojans lost to Gaffney in the regular season, their only loss of the season, but exacted revenge on the Indians just over a month later, beating them 2-0 in the Big 16 state title game at Clemson. Curtis Wilmore’s field goal block in the fourth quarter helped seal the win in one of the lowest scoring state finals in state history. Running back Dee Feaster led a Trojans team focused on running the ball and defending.
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1989 Northwestern - Jimmy Wallace’s first state title team at Northwestern overcame injuries to star QB Graham Stroman and future NFL running back Jeff Burris to beat Lancaster in the final. With Burris out, Daniel Adams stepped in to score a pair of TDs and backup QB John Houston threw a TD pass to beat the Bruins. The Trojans allowed just 20 points in five playoff games.
1953 Rock Hill - Jenkins’ team went undefeated and was selected state champs by sportswriters from across the state. Twenty-five players received college football scholarship offers and 15 played, according to John Boyanoski’s book, High School Football in South Carolina: Palmetto Pigskin History.
1946 Rock Hill - Jenkins’ second championship team in as many years finished 11-0 and sent 15 players on to college football. A story in The Herald said that Wofford College tried to hire Jenkins after the ‘46 season with the stipulation that he would bring his entire team with him to Spartanburg. Jenkins stayed in Rock Hill until 1958.
1945 Rock Hill - Walter Jenkins, credited by many locally for making football a focal point of Rock Hill culture, won the first of his three state titles at Rock Hill in 1944, leading his team to a 10-0 record. The ‘45 and ‘46 teams were part of a 26-game win streak that stretched into 1947.