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Vaught's Views: Smith appreciates Hall of Fame honor

August 24, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LOUISVILLE - He may not have said much about it to anyone, but being inducted into the Jeffersontown High School Hall of Fame meant a lot to Chuck Smith.

The Boyle County coach was honored here Friday night prior to the start of the Rebels' 35-0 season-opening win over Lafayette in the Charger Classic.

"It really means a lot to me to be honored like this," said Smith. "I have a lot of good memories from my high school years. I played with a lot of good guys that I bonded with. It means a lot that they think enough of me to put me into the Hall of Fame."

They should and his team's easy 35-0 win over Lafayette more than justified the honor.

Smith was the first player to earn first-team all state honors during his senior season in 1976 when he was one of the state's best linebackers. That got him a scholarship to the University of Kentucky.

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He took the same lineback mentality into the coaching ranks

He took that same linebacker mentality into the coaching ranks, first as an assistant coach at Mercer County and then as a head coach at Allen County-Scottsville and Campbellsville before coming to Boyle in 1992.

His first Boyle team went 7-4 and he looked like a miracle worker. The next year the Rebels slipped to 2-8 and many wondered if Smith would even be able to consistently put a respectable team on the field. Little did anyone know then that Smith would never have another losing season, much less lead Boyle to four straight state titles, a 47-game win streak and a 58-2 record from 1999-2002.

"He had a big influence on my career," former Boyle all-state lineman Travis Leffew said Friday. "He made me realize what the game was all about. He knew how to relate to play on and off the field. He helped me with my college recruiting. Anything I needed, he was there."

That's why Leffew made his way to the Papa John's Cardinal Stadium before Friday's game to see Smith. Leffew is now a starting offensive tackle for the University of Louisville and had a team meeting to attend to prepare for his team's Aug. 31 opener at Kentucky. But he wanted to make sure he supported his former coach.

"He's the old-school type. He believes in hitting and doing things the right way," Leffew said. "He gets the team to believe and get on the train with him. The trust he has in you comes back to him. He really pushes you hard, but rather than just scream and yell, he screams and teaches. He makes you get better."

What he won't do is talk about his accomplishments. Not the state titles. Not the win streak. Not his overall record. Not even the Hall of Fame.

"He barely mentioned it to the coaches when he told us about being invited to play in the game," Boyle assistant Chris Pardue said. "He prefers to give credit to everyone else. But I think it means more to him than he lets on. He left his mark on a community. Not everyone can say that."

There was no "win one for Chuck" speech

Smith didn't give any "win one for Chuck" speech before the game. He was too worried about the delay in the game's start. The bowl tripleheader was delayed almost 90 minutes at the start because of a rain and lightning storm and Boyle's scheduled 8 p.m. kickoff turned into a 9:35 start.

He worried how his young, inexperienced team would handle being in Louisville for almost four hours before getting to play and whether Lafayette's speed would be the problem he feared it might be. Smith worried way too much because his team scored on its opening possession and never was threatened thanks to the passing of his son, junior Brandon Smith; running and receiving by Brad Cloud, this season's big-play producer; and a typical stingy defense that dominated Lafayette.

However, there will be a day when even the normally intense Smith will sit back and savor the honor he received here.

"I think it will be even more special later, but it was a lot more fun tonight because we did win. This certainly is a game I would not have wanted to lose," Smith said. "Eventually I'll be able to tell my grandchildren about this.

"I do appreciate it, even if I couldn't really show a lot of emotion tonight. But I loved playing here and getting to come back to a bowl game with my team and going into the Hall of Fame is something I'll always remember and cherish."

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