Rebels ready for clash with Redhounds
Published 10:00 am Thursday, November 16, 2023
By Mike Marsee
The game of the year comes early this season.
Email newsletter signup
Boyle County and Corbin will face off at 7:30 p.m. Friday in one of the most anticipated matchups of the year, one that will keep one of them from returning to Kroger Field.
Less than a year after the Rebels and Redhounds played for the Class 4A championship, they will meet in a quarterfinal that is expected to draw one of the largest crowds ever at Rebel Stadium.
Boyle and Corbin, both 12-0 and two of the five remaining undefeated teams in 4A, have been ranked Nos. 1 and 2 all season in the statewide media poll. But they are Nos. 3 and 4 in the KHSAA RPI standings, which is why they’re meeting two weeks before the state finals.
“I don’t care who you play or when you play, you’ve got to beat somebody good to win the last game,” Boyle coach Justin Haddix said. “Everybody can complain and say this or that. We can’t control any of that. All we can control is our attitude and effort when we get out here and play on Friday night.”
The game pits one of the state’s top scoring offenses – Boyle is No. 2 in Class 4A and No. 6 overall at 47.6 points per game – against the top scoring defense – Corbin is No. 1 overall at 4.7 points allowed per game.
“They’re really good,” Haddix said. “They’re really good on the line of scrimmage physically, and they return a lot of guys from last year so they’re going to be a challenge.”
The Rebels are happy to face that challenge at home rather than in Corbin.
“I do think it would be a great state game, but as far as playing them in here I do think it helps because we’ve got our fans behind us. But we’ve still got to come out and play our game,” Boyle quarterback Sage Dawson said.
Corbin has shut out six of 11 opponents – one of its wins was by forfeit – and its first-team defense has allowed only a handful of points.
The Redhounds returned eight starters on offense and six on defense and added two standout defenders in linebacker Jacob Smith and defensive lineman Jerod Smith, who transferred from a school in Connecticut prior to their senior season and who committed to Michigan in July before switching to Kentucky in September.
The Smith twins are Corbin’s top two tacklers and have 25 tackles for loss and 12 sacks between them.
Quarterback Kade Elam (2,344 passing yards, 26 TDs) leads the Redhounds’ offense for a second straight year against a Boyle defense that is ranked No. 3 in 4A and No. 6 overall with 11.4 points allowed per game.
Montavin Quisenberry, who leads a corps of speedy skill players, has a team-high 737 receiving yards, 425 rushing yards, 25 offensive touchdowns and 29 total TDs.
Dawson has thrown for 2,223 yards and 28 TDs for the Rebels. Avery Bodner leads the team in tackles for loss (11 1/2) and total tackles, and he passed 1,000 yards in rushing last week and stands at 1,009 yards and 16 TDs.
Haddix said he’s confident his team will prepare well this week, but he doesn’t believe the energy level in practices will be higher than it has been.
“This team brings it every day in practice,” he said. “It’s a fun group to coach. It pushes me, it pushes our whole staff to be better.”
Dawson said he believes the Rebels will prevail if they are at their best.
“We’ve just got to be sharp and disciplined and play our game,” he said. “We’ve got the athletes, we’ve got the speed, we’re physical. If we come out and do what we’re supposed to do, I think we’ll be just fine.”
The Rebels and Rebounds have split eight previous meetings, seven of which have been in the postseason.
They have played twice for state titles, with Boyle winning 40-21 in 2017 and 32-26 in 2022.
A crowd of 5,000 or more fans is expected at Rebel Stadium, which has a listed seating capacity of 3,500.
Tickets are only available online and must be purchased in advance of Friday’s game. Tickets are $10 each, with ages 6 and under admitted free.
Parking will be available in lots at Boyle County High School, old Woodlawn Elementary School and Boyle County Middle School.
School parking lots will open at 4:30 p.m. Friday, three hours before kickoff. No tailgating will be allowed in school lots because of the high demand for parking.
Stadium gates will open at 5:30 p.m. Four admission gates will be open:
• The main gate, located behind the south grandstand and press box.
• Gate 1, at the southwest corner of the field near old Woodlawn.
• Gate 2, at the northeast corner of BCHS, near the softball field.
• Gate 3, near the right field corner of the baseball park, adjacent to the BCMS lots.