South Charlotte

York High has versatility, experience and desire

Jay Edwards

Correspondent

The versatility of Wally Wilmore (7, white jersey) will be a key factor in the success of York County high this football season.
The versatility of Wally Wilmore (7, white jersey) will be a key factor in the success of York County high this football season. COURTESY OF JESSICA WILMORE

Wally Wilmore played quarterback from at age 6 with the Chester Cyclones’ YMCA team through his freshman year with York High’s junior varsity.

But last season, with former Cougar standout, Deshaw Andrews under center, Wilmore showed his versatility and willingness to play nearly any position for the Cougars. He played wide receiver, running back, quarterback, cornerback, safety, kick returner and punt returner.

Wilmore’s played the bulk of his snaps at a wide receiver, a position he admits he had never played, outside of “playing catch in the backyard.” His lack of experience didn’t seem to matter. Wilmore had 97 catches for 1,188 yards and eight touchdowns. He also rushed for two more scores.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound sophomore also had 46 tackles, two forced fumbles and 16 pass break-ups.

Speed helps. Wilmore has been clocked at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

So is there a position he can’t play?

“At one point last season, we had a little trickery and I played offensive line at left guard,” said Wilmore, with a big laugh. “I loved being a quarterback, but I’ve enjoyed moving around and playing all of the positions. I don’t want to focus on just one right now, because I know college coaches love guys who can line up in a lot of different positions and have an impact on the game and help their teams win in different ways. …

“I know it’s a big role to play and a lot to learn. But I like the fact that teams will have a hard time game-planning for me, because week to week, play to play they don’t know where I’ll be on the field.”

Wilmore has gotten the full attention of college recruiters. He has attended camps at University of Georgia, North Carolina, Penn State and South Carolina this spring and summer. The 16-year-old is on the radar of nearly every major program in the area, including Florida State, according to York football coach, Bobby Carroll.

Wilmore also is an honor student with a 4.67 grade-point average.

The combination of athleticism, size, speed, talent and work ethic puts him in rare company.

“He reminds me a lot of Stephon Gilmore, and I wouldn’t say that about many players,” said Carroll, referring to Gilmore, a former South Pointe High player who now plays in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills. “Wally is a tremendous athlete, with great multidirection speed. We plan on moving him all over the field again this year. We want to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.”

Wilmore said “It’s great to be compared to an NFL player like Stephon Gilmore, but it’s also puts some pressure on me. … But all I can do is go out and focus on my game and do what I do, and keep making a name for myself.”

Wilmore is excited about his future on the gridiron, but he is squarely focused on helping his York team accomplish its goals.

The Cougars have posted four straight 10-win seasons, including last year’s 12-3 mark where they made it to the 4A, Division II state championship game, before falling to Spartanburg (49-28). That team has 15 starters back.

“Getting to the state championship game, and then losing in final game definitely hurt,” Wilmore said. “Our No. 1 goal is to get back to that game and get our revenge.”

Wilmore will have a lot of help. There will be senior offensive tackles, Ryan Enniss (6-4, 285) and Danny Warren (6-0, 350), classmate, center Caleb Clayborn also is back.

Meanwhile, the senior trio of linebackers, Devionne Chalk (6-4, 235) and Jamar Griffin (5-11, 180) and Nick Sturgill (6-0, 195) leads the defense.

This York team is eager to prove themselves.

“These guys got a taste of playing for a championship last year,” said Carroll, who has coached in seven state titles games in his time at Northwestern, South Pointe and now York. “There’s no doubt that getting out of school to go play at Williams-Brice stadium (at the University of South Carolina), is a high school kids’ dream come true. So, we all want to do it again, but we’re going to have to earn it.”

No matter what position he is playing, Wilmore knows it’s going to take championship focus in each game.

“When you play in a county like this, with so many good teams so close together, you can’t take a week off,” Wilmore said. “There’s guys right down the road that want it just as bad. We’ve got to show that we want this most.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: jedwardsjr23@gmail.com.

York County prep football preview

There’s a lot more than just bragging rights on the line each Friday night in York County.

The battle for supremacy each week, often has state championship implications, with Northwestern (2010, 2013), Rock Hill (2002, 2004) and South Pointe (2008, 2011, 2014) all claiming multiple state titles within the last 15 years.

York and Fort Mill also were contenders last season. York was 4A, Division II state runner-ups, while the Yellow Jackets had their best season (9-3) since 1998.

With so many talented teams packed into the football-crazed community, each squad will be eager to prove they are the best.

Top teams

▪ South Pointe: The defending S.C. 3A state champions have a lot of reasons to feel good about repeating, starting with senior QB, reigning 3A offensive player of the year, Greg Ruff.

▪ York: The Cougars return 15 starters from a 4A, Division II state runner-up team that is eager to prove they can take the top spot.

▪ Northwestern: When a nine-win season feels like a down year, you know you’re good. Now, the Trojans look to get back to being state contenders.

▪ Fort Mill: The Yellow Jackets had their best season since 1998, and have plenty of talent led by senior QB, Rogan Wells, to have another historic run in 2015.

▪ Indian Land: With nine starters returning on each side of the ball, the Warriors look to challenge for the Region III, 2A title and more.

Top Players

▪ Greg Ruff, South Pointe, Sr., QB (5-9, 170): Reigning S.C. 3A offensive player of the year can sling it around (2,653 yards passing and 33 touchdown passes last year) and will look to do it again as he helps the Stallions defend their 2014 3A state crown.

▪ Wally Wilmore, York, Jr., WR/RB/QB/DB/KR/PR (6-1, 170): Versatile performer can have an impact all over the field for the Cougars, and is already a major, Division I recruit, according to York coach, Bobby Carroll.

▪ Rogan Wells, Fort Mill, Sr., QB (6-3, 195): Yellow Jackets’ signal-caller helped his team to nine-win season for the first time since 1998 with nearly 3,000 yards of total offense, now looks to be even better in 2015.

▪ Logan Rudolph, Northwestern, Sr., TE/DE (6-2, 220): Trojan standout will be one of the rare Northwestern players to start both ways, has offer from Kentucky, according to Coach Kyle Richardson.

▪ Hank Tuipulotu, Nation Ford, Sr., WR/TE (6-3, 230): Brigham Young University (BYU) commit had a monster junior year with 106 receptions for 1,332 yards and 17 touchdowns, and with his size and speed is a matchup nightmare.

Players on the rise

▪ Ali Shockley, Northwestern, Jr., S (6-0, 170)/Trae’von Hinton, Sr. DE (6-2, 240): Both Shockley (95 tackles/four interceptions last year) and Hinton (112 tackles) can make game-changing plays for the Trojan defense.

▪ Brandon Banks, Rock Hill, Sr., QB (6-1, 195): If the Bearcats are going to make a move this season, their senior QB is going to have to be a big reason.

▪ Austin Gordon, Indian Land, Sr., RB/DE (6-0, 230): Gordon is a game-changer on both sides of the ball, rushing for 779 yards and 10 touchdowns, while making 46 tackles and four sacks last year, and looks to increase his production as a senior.

▪ Cole Martin, Nation Ford, Sr, QB (6-2, 205): Like Tuipulotu, Falcons’ quarterback put up video-game like numbers (4,000 yards passing/42 touchdown passes), but wants those to translate into wins this season.

▪ Noah Lindsay, Clover, Sr. QB (5-8, 160): The Blue Eagles have made progress in the last two seasons, and need Lindsay to play big to keep the momentum growing.

Must-see games

▪ Northwestern at South Pointe, Sept. 18: Bitter Rock Hill city rivalry always sets an early tone, measuring stick for both teams.

▪ South Pointe at Vance, Sept. 11: S.C. 3A state champion travels to N.C. 4A state runner-up in what should be an interesting, early cross-state battle for two team with elite athletic talent.

▪ Northwestern at York, Oct. 2: This game could decide the Region III, 4A title.

▪ Fort Mill at York, Oct. 23: Critical late season Region III, 4A battle will likely have major playoff implications for both teams.

▪ Northwestern at Rock Hill, Oct. 30: One of the state’s best rivalries is sure to offer many tricks and treats on Halloween weekend.

Compiled by Jay Edwards

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