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Rebels host 4A Franklin County in Rebel Bowl

 

The 2018 Rebel Bowl will be a familiar challenge to Boyle County.

Boyle will host Franklin County in the nightcap, with Mercer County and Waggener playing before. Both Boyle and Franklin each won last week — the Rebels defeated Ballard 35-21 and Franklin County won at Western Hills 27-20.

The Flyers’ offense is one that Boyle saw in 7-on-7s before the season, and it’s one that has plenty of threats across the field.

“I think they’re a very good football team, they’re well-coached,” Boyle County head coach Chuck Smith said. “Coach (Eddie) James over there is very familiar with our program because he was over here for two years. That was a few years ago, then he left to become a head coach there. He does a really good job, they’ve got a really nice football team. They play really good defense and they’ve got some explosive guys on offense who can change the game. They’ll be a good test for us.”

The Flyers have a balanced approach to offense, evident in their game against Western Hills last week. Despite a muddy field and rainy conditions, the Flyers threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. Senior wide receiver Ameer Lee caught a 22-yard touchdown and ran for a 16-yard score in the win. Quarterback Nick Broyles had two touchdowns, each more than 20 yards.

The Rebels faced a talented test last week against Ballard and emerged with a win thanks to a three touchdown performance from Landen Bartleson and a strong passing attack from Reed Lanter. Game MVP Reese Smith led the team with seven catches for 143 yards and a score. He also had one of Boyle’s four interceptions on the day.

Coach Smith said after the game that he didn’t think his team played well against Ballard and that didn’t change when he watched the game film. But his players have worked to improve on where they were weak against the Bruins, he said.

“We identified some things that we really needed to improve on, when we gave the video feedback to them,” coach Smith said. “I think they’ve really, consciously tried to improve this week on those things. Hopefully we can see some improvement this week from last week, because I didn’t think we played particularly well during the game after watching the film, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”

Missing against Ballard was running back Tanner Crawford, who injured his hip during the offseason and doesn’t have a timetable for a return.

“He’s actually been out for months, he wasn’t able to do spring football practice,” coach Smith sadi. “I’ll be honest, I really don’t know when he’ll be back. It’s just whenever he can get his strength back in his leg. He limps when he walks, he’s been doing it for three or four months now. I’m not sure what it is in his hip, I don’t even think he knows how he did it. It’s been a big blow to us, we haven’t had him and I don’t know when he’ll be back.”

Coach Smith called for more playmakers after the Ballard game and, without Crawford in the fold, new faces might have to emerge.

“We’ve got to get some of these guys to step up and start producing and performing. It’s got to be a team effort, we can’t be a one or two man team,” coach Smith said. “We’ve got to be able to spread the ball around. We’ve got a quarterback good enough to do that, but we’ve got to have guys who produce and make plays on the field during the game. That’s what we need.”

Running back Andrew Sacco carried most of the load for Boyle on offense in the second half against Ballard, chewing the clock with 14 carries for 33 yards.

More Rebels will have the opportunity to shine on Saturday, and coach Smith expects a pair of good games in the Rebel Bowl.

“It’s a great bowl, it’s a great football atmosphere,” he said. “Really our quarterback club does a good job putting it on along with our school. It’s a nice event, there’s always a big crowd there. It’s four good teams and there should be some really good football games.”