Rebels, Titans set to square off in Thursday night regular season finale

Published 7:28 pm Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Boyle County’s trip to Frankfort last week might’ve been a wake-up call.

The Rebels defeated Western Hills 54-35, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that they pulled away from the Wolverines.

The 35 points are the most points that Boyle has given up in a game this season, and Western Hills’ 342 yards were the second-most given up this season. It’s the second-straight game where Boyle has given up more than 325 yards of offense.

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Those are worrying signs for Boyle County head coach Chuck Smith.

“We’ve been up and down,” he said. “We’ve just had so many things to work on, we’ve had to deal with so many injuries and we’ve had to move people here, move people there. It’s really hindered us making the daily improvement that we need to make. We’re going to have to find a way to do that regardless, and we haven’t been able to figure that way out yet. We’ve got to do better. We’re not doing good enough.”

Injuries and illnesses have taken their toll on the Rebels, and the injuries haven’t discriminated based on position: Players all over the field, on both sides of the ball, have missed time.

That’s not the only issue Smith has seen: The players stepping up in the place of injured teammates haven’t, well, stepped up.

“We’ve got to take steps forward and not just tread water,” coach Smith said. “If we’ve got an injury, somebody’s got to step up and take their spot. We’ve got to keep moving forward. The ones that aren’t injured can’t sit around and not get any better because someone’s not there because they’re injured. We’ve just got to take steps in the right direction and we haven’t done it at the pace that I want to do it at. That’s been the holdup.”

Boyle will have a chance to take a step forward Thursday at 7 p.m. against Mercer County. The game time is unique — the game was moved up a day because of an unfavorable Friday forecast that could’ve drenched senior night for the Rebels.

“The forecast was heavy rain and we have our senior night festivities, I really didn’t want to put a damper on that with everyone standing in the rain,” coach Smith said. “I think the seniors deserve the best weather we can offer them so we can get as many people as we can to come and celebrate their last four years here.”

The Titans will give Boyle a good test on the ground: Mercer averages a whopping 267.9 yards per game running the football. Quarterback Kaelin Drakeford has also thrown for 828 yards this year.

Coach Smith says the Titans’ strong offense is down to quality coaching from Mercer head coach David Buchanan.

“They’ll be a good test, they do a really good job over there,” coach Smith said. “David does a great job coaching and getting his team ready. They gave us some fits last year and they’ll do the same this year. It should be a good game. I think their running backs are really good, they’ve got a couple that are really good and they know how to use them. They know how to get their running backs in positions for success. They’ll challenge us with scheme and plays, David does a great job of that. That’s how they’ll challenge us.”

Coach Smith wants to see his team take a united step forward against Mercer County in the final game of the season. He said the offense has been doing a “nice job” but can still be better.

“We’re really not where we need to be offensively, either,” he said. “We need to be better at this time of the year. We’re not better offensively or defensively, not at the place that we need to be to achieve our goals. We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to make double time.

“The thing that has held us back is the distraction of injuries. We’ve got to go. It’s going to happen whether we’re ready for it or not. We’ve got to start double-timing, making up for some lost time and gelling together as a team. We have not gelled together as a team, not as an offensive team, defensive team or even specialty team. I think we’re behind right now, I do. If we don’t catch up, if we don’t get everything going in the right direction, it’s going to catch up to us.”