EXTRA POINTS: There’s no place like home
Published 10:14 am Monday, September 12, 2016
After spending 15 years at Mercer County, it’s always good for Southwestern football coach Larry French to come back and visit. With wins over the Titans in the last two seasons, both sides are probably ready to have those visits come over coffee and not on the field.
French coached current Titans coach David Buchanan when the latter was a quarterback for Mercer. French said he’s too good of friends with Buchanan to truly enjoy facing his former player.
Two weeks ago, French visited Admiral Stadium for a date with Danville in the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic. And while French never was the head coach for the Admirals — his stops include Lincoln County and Boyle County — current Ads coach Clay Clevenger was an assistant for French for one season at Lincoln.
Email newsletter signup
Danville topped the Warriors 35-34 in a thrilling, late-night finish.
“They should know me pretty good,” French said. “They both have turned into great coaches, they’ve got great programs going.”
The Warriors are now 3-1 and were ranked ninth in last week’s Class 5A state poll. They should stay steady after the 28-26 win over Mercer.
Could a head coach make that much of a difference? At least in Casey County, the answer seems to be yes.
The Rebels are undefeated after an historic win over Lincoln County on Friday, and while many of the players remained the same for Casey from last year, Steve Stonebraker returned to Liberty to lead the program.
Breece Hayes and Collin Miller have stepped up to be even better than they were after outstanding junior seasons. Hayes has completed 81 percent of his passes for 727 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions; he also leads the team with 187 rushing yards. Miller has 413 total yards — averaging 20.7 yards per touch — and seven TDs.
The Rebels host winless Washington County this week in their home opener, and their three opponents after that have a total of five wins, but an October 21 home game against powerful Corbin awaits.
THEY’LL BE BACK
It was bound to happen. Danville gets a tough win over Southwestern and follows that with an emotional win over rival Boyle County, so of course the Admirals fell flat against Corbin.
Yes, it hurts. But this wasn’t a bad loss. Corbin is the second-ranked team in the state in Class 3A. They’re extremely good.
And so are the Ads. I can’t imagine too many 2A teams have the talent Danville does in its first unit. Don Harris, Christian Hill, Zach Dampier and D’mauriae VanCleave only start the list of players who could play at the next level.
There lies the rub, though: The only way Danville doesn’t make it back to the state semifinals will be because while their starters are outstanding, there isn’t much proven depth there. It hurts when Harris or VanCleave have to sit for a series or two, but there’s only so much the coaches can expect when both of those players are so vital on both offense and defense.
Let’s key in on that word “proven” — there’s still time for someone on the sideline to show his value and worth in practice to earn the trust of the coaches and give the Ads what they need most, depth.
ONLY A MATTER OF TIME
It’s unfamiliar territory for Boyle County to be 1-3. But let’s remember how the Rebels got here — lost a heartbreaker to North Hardin in overtime; lost to a tremendously talented Lafayette team which would have given the best Boyle teams a run for its money; and lost to a Danville team which put all its focus and emotion into beating its rival for the first time in four years.
Now after Friday’s blowout win at Anderson County, the page can be turned from that 0-3 start. And if one thing is true, it’s this — the season is not over yet. District games haven’t even started yet, and with each passing game, these young Rebels stop being so young and inexperienced.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time here, it’s that no one wants to face Boyle County, no matter its record.
Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn