Boyle Middle places second in state tournament

Published 5:11 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

Boyle County Middle School had a historic football season.

The Eagles finished the season 16-1, falling in the state championship game to Corbin.

It was the third game in four days for the Eagles: Boyle beat King Middle School (Mercer County) on Thursday in the Salt River Conference Championship, 42-6. On Saturday, Boyle beat Barrett Traditional (Louisville), 42-14. Sunday’s cold championship game finished finished 26-9.

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Boyle middle head coach Quinn Givhan said he couldn’t be more proud of his team for an outstanding season and brutal final week of the year.

“We played a good, well-coached Mercer team,” Givhan said. “We played the most explosive middle school athlete I’ve ever seen from Barrett with Selah Brown. By the time we got to Corbin, they were the biggest, fastest team. It was difficult and it was difficult on our kids. They wanted to win and they gave it everything they had.”

The final four state tournament games were played at Bryan Station in Lexington, and the schedule made it tough for the Eagles to scout their championship opponent. On Sunday morning before their game, Givhan said his team met at 7:30 a.m. to talk about their opponent before playing the game in the afternoon.

In the championship game, Boyle’s offense was sluggish, but the foot of kicker Jackson Smith was not. He hit three field goals — from 38, 25 and 51 yards — to keep the Eagles in the game.

“We played three games in four days. That was the toughest part,” Givhan said. “Our guys were exhausted. You could see it, they fought to the end, but in the second half when things weren’t going their way, that extra effort wasn’t there as much. I just don’t think they had it in them. The weather, everybody has to play in the weather. The thing that hurt us, we throw it more than any other middle school team I’ve seen, and we’re more efficient at it than most teams. I really think the weather affected our quarterback’s hands and his ability to throw it down the field. Our kicker, didn’t hurt him. He kept us in the game early when our offense was trying to find what we needed to do.”

Boyle and Corbin were tied at 6-6 with three minutes left before halftime, but Corbin’s star Treyveon Longmire scored a 40-yard run with 31 seconds left in the half to put Corbin ahead.

“We were right there. Really, that was a key point in the game,” Givhan said. “That crushed the momentum we had gained. We had momentum but we had a 70-yard touchdown called back against us. Normally, we’re the ones capitalizing on momentum and we force teams into bad situations. They were so good, they took that momentum away from us. That’s the first time that we felt that adversity the whole entire season.”

Smith’s stellar 51-yard field goal cut the lead to 12-9 in the third quarter, but Corbin would score two more touchdowns to win the game.

A loss in the state championship doesn’t derail what Givhan and his team accomplished in his first season as middle school head coach. He said when he started in spring practice, he had two assistant coaches.

That number ballooned to 10, and Givhan said it was that support that helped the team finish the year strong.

“We ended the year with 10 coaches, and I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “Our volunteers and support for the program were just incredible in my first year as head coach. What made it so unique was my offense was brand-new, nothing they had done before. We changed the defense, coach (Bill) Mason had run a 5-3 the year before and we switched to the 4-4 like what the varsity does. Both offensive and defensive schemes were new, and a lot of the players went to different positions because of that. When you talk about the change of the team itself and what they had to do, it was a huge change.”

But Givhan said the players adapted to those changes and welcomed them — and the proof is in the results. Aden Slone, known for his basketball skills, came out and helped Cash Logan shoulder the running load.

Givhan said his team’s offense was designed to open up opportunities for multiple players to score, and that’s exactly what happened.

“We had several games where we had five or more different people scoring touchdowns in a single game,” he said. “I know that, without a doubt, we scored more points than any other middle school team in the state of Kentucky. We had some really strong positives on the offensive end.”  

All of those skill positions move on to the high school level next year, and Givhan is excited to see how they bond with an already-talented team. He compared the eighth-grade class to the talented sophomore class currently helping the varsity team.

“If you look at how well the sophomore class is helping the varsity team right now, when these eighth graders are sophomores, they’ll be paired up with those sophomores,” he said. “A lot of those sophomores aren’t starting varsity. So when you think about the depth that they’ll provide to the varsity program, it’s going to be amazing … Replacing these eighth graders is going to be such a tall task, and it’ll be interesting to see how they transition to high school. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Corbin and Boyle County battling it out at the high school level in the next couple of years. With coach (Chuck) Smith at the helm, I have no doubt that we can win that one.”

After a 16-1 year, Givhan said his team will remember the excitement of this season.

“What they can look back on this year is how much fun they had,” he said. “I told them that what we wanted to do offensively was extremely fun. We were going to try to get the ball to as many people as possible and in as many ways as we could. And we did that. We played a fun style of offense, and the guys said it was the most fun year they had. Because what we did, I want the kids to be able to turn on the TV on Saturday’s and see college teams running what we run. We accomplished that.

“We beat Lexington Catholic. We went undefeated through the regular season. Huge. Winning playoffs. Huge. Making it to the championship game in our first time playing in the state tournament, these are just things that have never been done by Boyle County Middle School in the state tournament. They’ve got to much to be proud of. We lost on Sunday, that isn’t how we wanted the season to end. But at the start of the season we had no idea what we could be, because everything was new. Just to be 16-1 and to play in the state championship was unreal.”