Boyle tops Christian Academy, 56-21
By MIKE MARSEE
LOUISVILLE — Boyle County came looking for a fight, and the Rebels didn’t back down when they found themselves in one.
Coach Justin Haddix wanted for his team just the kind of test it got Friday from Christian Academy of Louisville, and the Rebels clearly passed that test in a 56-21 victory at Centurion Stadium.
Boyle scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to make this win appear easier than it. Haddix said he expected a challenge, and he was not disappointed.
“We came up here for a battle,” Haddix said. “And it’s the first away game, so you’re dealing with all the other things. And I’m very, very proud of them.”
Much of Boyle’s offense was generated by quarterback Jagger Gillis, who threw for 330 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 52 yards and one TD.
But as was the case in the season-opening win over Mercer County a week earlier, playmakers emerged all over the field and on both sides of the ball for the Rebels (2-0).
That was particularly true in the second half, when Boyle took a punch in the mouth and answered with a flurry of body blows.
The Rebels’ offense ran hot and cold during the first half, and the Centurions (1-1) had momentum on their side after returning the opening kickoff of the second half 99 yards for a TD that tied the game at 21-all.
CAL did not score or even threaten to score again, however, and Boyle scored on four of its next six offensive possessions and added a defensive touchdown to win going away.
“We responded, and that’s a big thing you want to see in your football team: How are they going to respond when things don’t go their way all the time? And I was very proud of our football team,” Haddix said.
Boyle certainly didn’t earn a perfect grade against a CAL team that had a talented quarterback of its own and speedy receivers who sliced through the Rebels’ defense, as well as a defense that slowed Boyle’s offense after the Rebels scored on their first two series.
“We’ve got a lot of learning to do,” Haddix said. “No doubt about it we were playing hard, they made some outstanding plays, … and we’re going to learn from it and keep going.”
Luke Sheperson, who caught two touchdown passes, said there is much to be done but also much to like about the way the Rebels finished the game.
“We just have to clear up our mistakes,” Sheperson said. “If we play hard all game like I know we can, then I don’t see why we can’t do that every game, what we did in the second half.”
Sheperson beat two defenders for his second touchdown catch, a 54-yard play that gave Boyle the lead for good at 28-21 with 4:27 to play in the third quarter. His first TD catch was for 46 yards.
Cole Lanter also had two touchdown receptions for Boyle, and Eli Glasscock had one. Running back Will McDaniel led the Rebels in receptions with six for 81 yards, and he rushed for 65 yards and one touchdown.
Showing more: Gillis directed Boyle’s passing game effectively for the second straight week, but he went deeper into his toolbox Friday than he had to in the Mercer game.
The quarterback didn’t have a rushing attempt in the Rebels’ first game, but he ran the ball seven times against CAL for 52 yards. He also made a big play on defense, intercepting a pass early in the fourth quarter to set up a touchdown.
“I talk about I want football players, and he’s a football player. That’s what I love about him,” Hddix said. “He’s a tough kid.”
Gillis showed on his rushing attempts that he’s not only willing to take a hit, but to deliver one as well.
“He finally let me run the ball tonight,” Gillis joked with a look toward his coach. “I don’t like to go down easy. I like to hit people, or try to.”
Gillis transferred from Anderson County to Boyle for his senior year, and even though practice time was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was able to get to know his receivers before the Rebels could begin practicing as a team.
“As soon as I made the move, I reached out to a bunch of the guys and tried to build team chemistry,” he said.
Sheperson didn’t wait for that.
“We didn’t even know we were (getting him). We heard a kid from (Anderson was coming) … so I called him: ‘I’m over here at Boyle, I’m a wide receiver and I heard you were coming,” Sheperson said. “He’s been a good one for sure. He came out here and showed us he can throw the ball, he can read, he can do everything.”
Gillis said he has been impressed with what Boyle’s talented group of receivers can do as well.
“It just shows what kind of athletes we’ve got here and what kind of work they put in in the offseason,” he said.
Gillis completed 16 of 23 passes Friday with one interception that came on a tipped ball. He has thrown both short passes and accurate deep balls.
Haddix said Gillis’ skills and the many players who can catch the ball make Boyle’s offense difficult to defend.
“It makes us dangerous,” he said.
First and second: Many coaches have said the week between the first and second games of the season might be the most critical time for improvement, but Haddix said that probably won’t be the case for Boyle.
“We didn’t have the best week of practice, and it showed early on some of the things we were doing,” he said. “They’re still kids, they’re going through things like everybody else with the pandemic going on, virtual school. We’ve got to work every day to get better.”
Extra points: Collin Tiller recovered a fumble forced by teammate Jacob Heist during the fourth quarter and returned it 45 yards for Boyle’s first defensive touchdown of the season. … CAL quarterback Connor Masters completed 16 of 27 passes for 278 yards. … Boyle outgained CAL 479 yards to 346. … Taking a team on the road during the time of COVID-19 is a bit different. Teams are currently restricted to 60 players in uniform, but Boyle used five school buses to transport its players, coaches and support staff from Danville to Louisville.
Game three: Boyle will face another difficult road game Friday when the Rebels play at Highlands in their final tuneup before district play begins.
Highlands is one of the most successful programs in Kentucky football history with 23 state championships, but the Bluebirds have not played up to their usual standard since winning their most recent title in 2014.
The Bluebirds (1-1) have reached the regional finals only twice in the five years since and are coming off a 6-5 season that ended in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Even so, Haddix expects another stern test for the Rebels.
“They’re a great football school,” he said. “We’re going to get their best game, we know that. That’s why we schedule good people.”
Highlands rallied from an 11-0 deficit to defeat Ryle 23-14 on Friday. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Noon rushed for two touchdowns and sophomore running back Dawson Hosea ran for one.
Highlands and Boyle have combined for 31 championships, and the Bluebirds’ total is the second-most in state history behind only Trinity (26). Highlands also ranks second in all-time wins (902 since 1915), trailing only Male (906 since 1893).
The Rebels and Bluebirds have met seven times since 2003, including twice in ’03 and ’04, when they played for the Class 3A championship game. Boyle took a 4-3 lead in the series with its 30-0 win last year.
“They’re a great program, we’re a great program. It’s going to be a battle,” Haddix said.
Boyle County 14 7 14 21 — 56
Chr. Acad. of Lou. 7 7 7 0 — 21
Boyle — Luke Sheperson 54 pass from Jagger Gillis (Jackson Smith kick), 10:54.
CAL — Gage Geren 42 pass from Connor Masters (Dylan Cornett kick), 7:51.
Boyle — Gillis 1 run (Smith kick), 4:41.
Boyle — Eli Glasscock 26 pass from Gillis (Smith kick), 3:51.
CAL — Geren 30 pass from Masters (Cornett kick), 2:47.
CAL — Geren 99 kickoff return (Cornett kick), 11:46.
Boyle — Sheperson 46 pass from Gillis (Smith kick), 2:27.
Boyle — Cole Lanter 12 pass from Gillis (Smith kick), :37.
Boyle — Lanter 46 pass from Gillis (Smith kick), 8:26.
Boyle — Will McDaniel 14 run (Smith kick), 4:42.
Boyle — Collin Tiller 45 fumble recovery (Smith kick), 2:58.