"It's the first time around for a lot of these players, and I'm proud of them," Smith said. "They've done a good job to this point."
Boyle's defense kept the opposing offense out of the end zone for the third straight week - Lincoln's lone touchdown was created by its defense - and Brandon Smith threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score to lead an offense that generated 374 yards.
Boyle (10-0, 5-0 Class AAA, District 4) completed its regular-season schedule without a loss for the fifth time in seven years, but Chuck Smith said that's already old news as the Rebels look toward this week's playoff opener against Fairdale.
"It's behind us," the Boyle coach said. "We've got to get ready for the real season."
The team's veterans know what that entails.
"Our attitude has been good so far, but it's got to get even better, because from here on out we can't lose," senior Ian Loughry said.
The four classes before them have graduated with state championships, and this year's small but determined group of seniors is making sure the rest of the team knows what it will take to extend that streak.
"We're always in the younger players' ears," Loughry said. "Everyone's been making strides so far, and we're getting to the point where we're cutting down the mistakes we make."
Smith has fretted over what he perceived as a lack of focus several times this season, but he said those occurrences are becoming less frequent.
"They have really made some progress in that specific area over the last three weeks, and that's got to be encouraging," Smith said.
He said there were occasional lapses Friday, particularly on offense, but they certainly didn't prevent Boyle from having its way with Lincoln (2-8, 1-4).
"Our kids played hard. We got beat by an excellent team," Lincoln coach Robbie Lucas said. "If you want to see how to play football, how it's done, this would be the place."
Rebels' defense shuts down Patriots
Lincoln managed just 43 yards in the first half, although its total of 118 yards was far better than that of Boyle's last two foes. And the Patriots didn't cross midfield until the last play of the third quarter.
"Our defense played real well," Loughry said. "Our defense picked up when our offense slacked off."
Andrew Bertram led the Boyle defense with a team-high 11 tackles, followed by Brandon Record with seven. Record and Jacob Arnold, anchoring the interior line, helped hold Lincoln to 26 yards rushing in the first three quarters.
"On film, we thought we'd be able to get a little bit inside on them," Lucas said. "Their defensive line played excellent tonight."
Brad Cloud returned an interception for a touchdown for the second straight week and recovered a fumble, Greg Peck had a fumble recovery to go with two touchdown receptions, and Loughry got his first interception of the season.
It was a highlight for Loughry, who said he didn't think he'd be part of Boyle's senior night after suffering a broken fibula, a fractured tibia and femur and a torn knee ligament Aug. 29. He missed five games before returning three weeks ago.
"I feel very lucky getting to play this soon," he said. "They said it was miraculous how quick I healed."
Brandon Smith completed 10 of 20 passes for 146 yards and was Boyle's leading rusher with 71 yards. Peck caught four passes for 79 yards.
Chris Hart completed 10 of 16 passes in his final game for Lincoln, but a 14-yard throw to Cole Lanigan was the only one that went for more than 10 yards.
Senior linebacker Daniel Sinkhorn produced the Patriots' points when he picked up a fumble at the Boyle 9-yard line and ran it in with 5:23 to play.
"These seniors once again came out and played extremely hard," Lucas said. "All these kids have been warriors all year long."
Lucas said neither the score nor Lincoln's final record reflected the Patriots' progress, though they made a better showing than in 69-0 and 62-0 losses to Boyle in the previous two years.
"When you look past the record and past the stats, you see kids playing their hearts out," he said.
"We're starting to make strides. The average fan can't always see them, and I understand that. And 2-8 is still 2-8."