Rebels ready for round two with Lexington Catholic

Published 10:38 am Thursday, November 16, 2017

Boyle County and Lexington Catholic don’t need an introduction.

The pair are two of the top football programs in Class 3A, and they’ll meet in the playoffs Friday for the first time in four years.

In recent meetings, Lexington Catholic has had the advantage: Before Boyle’s win in the regular-season this year, the Knights had won the past four meetings and eight of the last nine, including the last three playoff games between the two teams.

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“It’s a good rivalry, we’ve had a good rivalry with them. It’s a big game,” Boyle head coach Chuck Smith said. “We’ve won the first time around and I think it’s very difficult to play the same team twice in the year. I don’t like it at all, it’s just hard to do. It’s hard to prepare, it’s hard to get ready. I don’t like playing the same team, but we have no choice. We’ll be ready to go, our guys understand the importance of this game.”

Boyle’s win over Lexington Catholic in the regular-season was monumental for multiple reasons: It was the first “big-game” win in years, coach Smith said, and it gave the Rebels a district title.

Home field will play an important role again in Friday’s game, and the stakes are higher than the last time the two teams squared off.

“This game has more at stake this time than last time,” coach Smith said. “Last time there was tomorrow, this time there is no tomorrow. The loser turns their equipment in. There’s more at stake, it should be more intense, it’s going to be a game that comes down to possessions. We’ve got to be able to take advantage of ours and hopefully not let them take advantage of theirs.”

The Rebels dominated the final score in the regular-season contest, 48-17. But at halftime, the Rebels were ahead just 13-10.

“We just kind of pulled away and got away from them a little bit,” coach Smith said. “I think it’ll be a four-quarter game this time around, I think it’ll be a close game. They’re very, very good offensively, they’ve got a great system, they’re well coached. They know what they’re doing and they have answers for everything. They do a really nice job on the offensive side of the ball and they’re strong with their specialty teams like always.

“Their weakness this year has been their defense. We’ve got to be able to take advantage of that, we’ve got to be able to score some points. I think their gameplan probably every game is to outscore you. I think that’ll be the same here.”

Coach Smith said his players are ready. Reese Smith was cleared for play after sitting the past two weeks due to a concussion, and there aren’t any other big injuries for the team.

“I think that our kids have worked so hard to get to this moment, get to this time,” coach Smith said. “We’ve got to play the game not afraid to make a mistake, we’ve got to play the game to win and just go get it, take it, produce, perform. All we can worry about is one day at a time leading up to the game and then from there, it’s just one play at a time throughout the game.”

The last time Boyle won against Lexington Catholic in the playoffs was 2010 — which is also the last year Boyle won the state championship.

“At this stage, in round three, it should be and it has been just complete focus, locked in, commitment,” coach Smith said. “Nothing else is more important. That’s the way it should be when you get to the last three weeks. That’s what I expect and that’s what I’ve seen so far.”