Garrard visits Lexington Catholic in round two

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Contributing Writer

Garrard County raised some eyebrows around the state this past week when Coach Jerry Perry’s Golden Lions took their 3-7 record and No. 4 seed to Fleming County and ‘upset’ the No. 1 seeded, 8-3, Panthers, 20-14, in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs.

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That earned Garrard County a second-round matchup Friday at 6-5 Lexington Catholic.

But Perry says the win at Fleming County was not a surprise to anyone on the Garrard County sideline.

“We felt like we matched up real well with them,” said Perry, whose team had to stop Fleming County on a 4th-and-3 play from the Garrard four-yard-line with two minutes left to preserve the win. “We have had two or three games this year where we got beat pretty handily, but there were a few other games that we lost that we probably shouldn’t have. So we didn’t feel inferior at all (to Fleming). We felt like we had a good shot.”

Indeed. It’s easy to see that the Golden Lions’ four seed is deceptive in a district that includes Boyle County, Lexington Catholic and upstart Western Hills.

Garrard County lost to all three of those teams this season, but only Boyle County handled Perry’s team easily, beating the Golden Lions, 48-7, on Oct. 6.

The Golden Lions lost a 40-36 heartbreaker at Western Hills on Oct. 13 and followed that a week later with a competitive, 42-24, loss at Catholic.

Perry said his message to his players going into the state playoffs was turn off the noise.

“You keep encouraging because you know you’re not as bad as people think,” Perry said. “Because they hear it all the time: ‘You’re 3-7, you aren’t any good’ … blah, blah, blah. Nobody ever looks at your schedule. They just look at your record.

“That can be a defeating thing for kids,” he added. “As a coach it’s not a big deal. I’ve coached for 33 years. I know what we’ve got. But, as a kid, it’s tough, and I was glad to see them rise above it.”

The challenge for Perry’s team at Catholic is obvious: Contain the Knights’ bevy of talented and athletic skill position kids, especially senior running back Dameon Jones.

Jones ran for 183 yards on 10 carries and scored three touchdowns in the earlier meeting with Garrard County. He averages 153 yards per game on the season.

Perry said it was poor tackling that doomed his team in that game, against Jones and others.

“We didn’t tackle in space,” Perry said. “Their athleticism gives us a lot of problems. But, a lot of times when you’re playing against gifted athletes, they think they need to back up and give them room. And that’s not the case. The more gifted they are, the tighter you want to be to them.

“Because you want them to be a little bit uncomfortable,” Perry added. “The more space they have, the more comfortable they are.”

Perry then pointed to quite an oddity about Lexington Catholic-Garrard County matchups that stretches back to the past three meetings.

“Neither team has punted in those games,” Perry said. “It’s been turnovers and stuff like that. Unfortunately for us, they haven’t had any turnovers.

“And in the last two games we’ve played against them, we’ve had the ball for like 160 plays and they’ve had it for 50. And they beat us twice — 63-31 and 42-24. So it’s been big plays…lots of big plays.”

That’s all the more reason why it will help the Golden Lions’ cause if they can get another monster performance from senior running back Josh Warren Friday. Warren gained an astonishing 329 yards on 55 carries and scored three touchdowns in the earlier game at Catholic.

For the season, Warren is averaging 142 yards per game despite dealing with a series of injuries.

Perry and the Golden Lions take heart in having a guy like Warren with a proven track record vs. Lexington Catholic.

Still, big picture, Perry said the key for his team Friday is playing “a clean game.”

And, all together now, tackling.

“We just have to tackle,” he said. “That’s the whole thing. If we play clean offensively, we should be in the game anyway, but it would be great to make a tackle and make a stop. If we get a stop, that changes the whole scenario. But we’ve never had a stop against them.”

The Garrard-Catholic winner advances to play the Boyle County-Western Hills winner next Friday in the quarterfinals.