Fort Mill’s Grayson Diehl carries the ball in a loss as Fort Mill hosts York in non-conference varsity football action. Photos by Jeff Sochko.

Fort Mill head football coach Rob McNeely told his team that next week represented a new opportunity, a new season, and a fresh start.

Following a 0-5 start to the 2022 season, the Yellow Jackets will surely welcome that perspective.

Fort Mill was blanked 41-0 to visiting York Comprehensive High School Friday night in the final non-region matchup of the season at Bob Jones Stadium in Fort Mill.

Four different Cougars combined for five touchdowns in the shutout loss, including a 78-yard kickoff return to begin the second half.

The Jackets gave up nearly 200 rushing yards throughout the game, and Fort Mill’s offense was unable to reach the York red zone.

“Every game is the most important one,” McNeely said. “It seems like we’re playing a bigger, stronger offensive line every week. Our players and coaches have to prepare like we deserve to win the game. … That’s the goal.”

York opened the scoring on a six-play, 47-yard drive after receiving a punt just inside Fort Mill territory midway through the first quarter.

Cougars quarterback Ayden Davis made a 28-yard pitch and catch to receiver Michael McConnell, who ran in for a touchdown to end a quick drive that lasted less than two minutes.

The Cougars, now 4-1, doubled their advantage on their next possession, this time starting from Fort Mill’s 46-yard line.

This time, Davis pulled off a few successful quarterback sneaks. Deadrian Hall pushed the visitors inside the 1-yard line, and Davis pushed his way in for a score on the seventh play of the drive to make it 14-0.

Fort Mill’s best drive of the half began on its own 22 with 8:36 left to play. Jackets’ quarterback Colin Martin found receiver Dylan Schaefer for a 20-yard pickup on third and long, and a facemask penalty helped push the Jackets to the 50. Martin picked up a few more yards, but running back Grayson Diehl was unable to convert on third and 3 and fourth and 2.

York took over on the ensuing possession with 4:12 left to play, and marched down the field with strong running. Running back Javarus Guthrie picked up runs of 8, 7, and 13 yards to push York within the Fort Mill 10.

On first and goal, Triston Barnett secured a reverse rush, Davis threw out the lead block, allowing Barnett to run untouched into the end zone for York’s third touchdown of the night.

Davis finished the game with 6-of-9 passing, 84 passing yards and 45 rushing yards.  

Fort Mill’s regular starting quarterback Isaiah Haynes was out this week with an injury, McNeely said. The backup Martin, who had 14 carries for 24 yards, got the nod Friday night, and Jaylin Chambers had a few snaps under center during the latter part of the contest when Martin dealt with an injury of his own.

York didn’t slow down in the second half. Javarus Guthrie ran a 78-yard kickoff return back the other way to open the third quarter. A few drives later, Guthrie followed that display up with a 13-yard rushing touchdown to finish off a four play, 39-yard drive consisting only of Guthrie running plays.

Kicker Zane Beardsley added two field goals for York in the fourth quarter, from 28 and 30 yards, respectively, as York brought in substitutes to ice the game.

Fort Mill’s offense couldn’t find much traction against York. The Jackets reached the York 42 midway through the second quarter, but Diehl, who had 11 carries for 33 yards, couldn’t reach the first down on fourth and short.  

York linebacker Tyler Koester snagged two interceptions, one in the first quarter and another in the fourth, that ended Fort Mill drives early.

“I put us in the same bad situations, going for it on fourth down in our territory,” McNeely said. “But I knew this was gonna be a tough game, and I was willing to take some risks.

“We keep preaching, we’ve got to put in time and effort as coaches. The kids have got to practice well. What we do between now and 7:30 p.m. next week, that’ll determine whether we deserve to win.”

Both teams begin region play on Sept. 30. Fort Mill opens its Region 3-5A schedule with a road game against Blythewood, while York will take on Indian Land at home.

Fort Mill quarterback Colin Martin keeps the ball as he looks to running room up field during Friday’s game against York.