Boyle County owns the trenches against Western Hills in blowout win
Published 1:44 pm Monday, October 23, 2017
Boyle County’s run defense has been good all season, but never better than it was Friday night.
How good was it? Good enough to hold the state’s top running back to a mere 10 yards. And good enough to help the Rebels roll to their first district championship in four years.
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Boyle held WanDale Robinson of Western Hills covered a great deal of ground but netted just 30 feet Friday, and that turned the matchup between two of the five highest-scoring teams in 3A into a 71-14 cakewalk at Rebel Stadium that was the Rebels’ largest win in six years.
Robinson covered at least as much ground laterally as he did heading forward. Boyle’s defense started with defensive tackles Wilson Kelly and Mitchell Paycheck clogging the middle and continued with defensive ends and linebackers forcing Robinson to the edge of the field.
“We wanted to stop the middle and make him run sideline to sideline,” Boyle linebacker Kagen Jackson said.
Boyle (8-1, 3-0 District 3A-4) has allowed fewer rushing yards this season, but the Rebels’ run defense faced a greater threat from Robinson and Western Hills than from Wayne County, which they held to 22 yards in a Sept. 8 win.
Robinson’s previous season-low rushing total was 152 yards against Estill County, and he had run for at least two touchdowns in every previous game.
“We saw what he could do on film, and we were really nervous about him, but I think the players really took it upon themselves to make it a goal to try to contain him,” Boyle coach Chuck Smith said. “We did a really good job of never letting him get started, because once he gets started he’s really hard to handle.”
Defensive end Clete Hellyer said the Rebels played like they practiced.
“It’s all hard work and dedication,” Hellyer said. “We prepared hard for him in practice, and we practice like we’re going to play. It all depends on how we practice, and we practiced hard.”
Marquise Kinley practiced hard, too. The sophomore running back didn’t get a single carry Friday and has only four this season, but he got plenty of carries in practice as he played the role of Robinson for Boyle’s scout team offense, just as he had emulated Lexington Catholic’s Dameon Jones a week earlier before the Rebels held him to 71 yards.
“He’s done it two weeks in a row, and he’s done a terrific job of being the scout team back,” Smith said. “He just really worked our guys all week long, because he’s got that kind of speed and agility, and he really got them ready to go. He might have been the most valuable player on the team.”
Boyle’s defense has given up only 82 yards per game on the ground this season, and Hellyer said the unit has gotten stronger since the season started.
“We all work as one unit,” he said. “We all understand what our jobs are, and we all know what we have to do to get where we want to be.”
Smith said Boyle has been solid up front on both sides of the ball all season long.
“Our defensive line is really good and our offensive line is really good. They both have had a great season and done a great job. They’ve been the backbone of our football team this year,” he said.
The victory gave Boyle its first district title since 2013 and home-field advantage throughout the Class 3A playoffs, which begin next week.
“It’s a load off our shoulders, and we get to host all the playoff games here,” Jackson said.
We control our own destiny. That was one of our goals at the beginning of the year … and in order to do that we had to win the district,” Smith said. “I was really proud of the guys for achieving that goal. We’ve got other goals, though. That’s not the only goal we’ve got.”
Robinson entered the game needing 54 yards to reach 2,000 on the season and 61 to reach 4,500 career yards, and the junior was averaging 16.5 yards per carry and 243 per game.
He ran for 8 yards – his longest carry of the night – on the first play from scrimmage, but it was all Boyle after that. The Rebels scored on their first seven possessions in the first half and their first three in the second, failing to reach the end zone only when the clock ran out on them at the end of the first half and they ran the clock out at the end of the game.
The result was Boyle’s highest point total since a 72-20 victory over Clay County in the first round of the 2012 Class 4A playoffs, and its largest win since a 57-0 rout of Taylor County in 2011.
Boyle’s offense rolled up 523 yards – its second-highest total of the season behind only the Lexington Catholic game a week earlier, when it had 611 yards – to secure the Rebels’ first district title since 2014.
Landon Bartleson rushed for 117 yards and four TDs on only seven carries, scoring on runs of 2, 31, 1 and 3 yards. Tanner Crawford added 82 yards and two TDs for the Rebels, who had 414 rushing yards.
Reed Lanter completed six of eight passes for 76 yards and a touchdown – all in the first half – and Nick Walker caught five passes for 69 yards.
In addition to Sam Tiller, Grant Hotchkiss, Alex Rahbany and Andrew Sacco scored touchdowns for Boyle.
Western Hills (6-3, 1-2) was averaging 45.3 points per game – about three more per game than Boyle – but the Wolverines reached the end zone only twice, had only five first downs and converted on third down only once.
JLen Youngblood scored on a 4-yard run late in the first quarter following a 42-yard kickoff return by Dallan Hawkins, and Youngblood threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Robinson on fourth-and-7 in the fourth quarter.
Western Hills got 100 of its 132 yards in the fourth quarter, by which time Boyle led 64-7.
Boyle will close the regular season Friday at Mercer County (5-4), and its likely opponent for the first round of the Class 3A playoffs Nov. 3 is West Carter (4-5), the fourth-place team in District 3A-5.