The Rebels completed a perfect season that included impressive non-district wins over Lafayette, Henry Clay, Danville, Highlands and Nelson County. All those teams are in the playoffs.
Quarterback Brandon Smith emerged as the team leader and a cast of young, inexperienced players showed they had more than enough talent to continue Boyle's winning tradition. The team's most consistent playmaker has been senior receiver-linebacker Brad Cloud, but this is not a team with a Mr. Football candidate or marquee name. No, this is a team that wins with desire and team play.
Boyle does not have an easy path to the state title. Chuck Smith thinks is the most balanced the regional competition has ever been and seems genuinely concerned about Friday's game with Fairdale. If the Rebels do win the region - and who thinks they won't - then there will be the semifinal showdown either with Paducah Tilghman or Bowling Green. Both teams are unbeaten and loaded with talent.
Paducah Tilghman was the preseason choice to end Boyle's Class AAA title reign, but don't write off Bowling Green. Paducah Tilghman may have more star players, but Bowling Green is solid.
If Boyle gets back to Louisville for the title game, don't be stunned to find Highlands waiting. Mason County has a superb quarterback in Dustin Grutza and marquee receiver in Chris Lofton. Lexington Catholic has talent. But Highlands looks the best of all.
Danville coaches have worried all season about a possible Class A regional title showdown with Holy Cross, an unbeaten team that depends on a bruising running game to beat opponents. Holy Cross has not played anywhere close to the competition Danville has and don't underestimate the edge that will give the Admirals when they go to Louisville Nov. 21. However, don't discount the possibility of Holy Cross giving Danville fits in this game.
If the Admirals (9-1) get past Holy Cross, guess who will be waiting? Mayfield - as usual. There's no way Mayfield will even be tested in Region 1. The other district champion was Metcalfe County, which was 5-0 in district play and 10-0. This is the same team that Danville beat 51-14 last year.
Mayfield ended Danville's two-year title reign last season by winning at Admiral Stadium and then knocking off Beechwood in the title game. Danville, like Boyle, would have to hit the road for this game and that will be a big edge for Mayfield. Or would it? Danville did win at Mayfield in 2001 and Mayfield did win here last season.
If Danville gets to Louisville, it could face Newport Catholic - the same team it beat in 2000 and 2001. Or another traditional power, Beechwood, could be there. Catholic beat Beechwood during the season, but don't be stunned to see this outcome reversed in the playoffs.
Other area teams aren't likely to fare as well in the playoffs. Harrodsburg goes to Holy Cross this week after getting thrashed by Danville last week and won't have enough firepower to win. Mercer County goes to Fleming County in Class AA and barring a monster game by running back Andrew McCloud, the Scotties won't win.
Casey County could be a lot better than Western is expecting in the Class AA playofffs. However, Western's athleticism and home-field edge will be too much for Casey to overcome.
Garrard County gets to play at home and hosts DeSales. The Golden Lions are not nearly as potent offensively without injured quarterback Spencer Crutchfield, but they are efficient and opportunistic. It won't be easy, but look for a close, low-scoring Garrard victory.
The main local focus, though, will be in Title Town where Boyle and Danville start their annual quests for another state trophy.