Boyle's lack of playoff experience a major worry for Smith

November 06, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

A team that won only four games wouldn't appear to be one that Boyle County, a team that has won four straight state titles, should be overly concerned about going into the Class AAA playoffs.

However, Boyle coach Chuck Smith is worried because Fairdale's four wins have been in its last four games.

After opening the season with six straight losses and being outscored 132-50 in those losses, Fairdale has scored 105 points in its four wins over Valley, Doss, Jeffersontown and North Bullitt.

"They've got some good athletes," said Smith. "They have given up some points, but it is not from a lack of athleticism."

Smith's unbeaten Rebels host Fairdale Friday in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs. Boyle has outscored its opponents 439-104 and goes into the game as a solid favorite. Smith knows that guarantees nothing in postseason play.


"Back in 1997 we were 10-0 and got beat," Smith said. "We played Bourbon County in the second round. We had beat the snot out of them (34-14) in the regular season and then they beat us (24-0).

"We went into the season without a lot of experience. We have veteran players now, but they don't have playoff experience and that's a big difference. Our young players have got to understand the level of intensity that goes into every playoff game. You lose now and you are done for the year. Everybody pulls out all stops in the playoffs. It's going to take maximum effort to survive. It's not like the regular season. There's no next week if you lose."

Fairdale put more emphasis on the run

Fairdale didn't appear headed for postseason play until it changed philosophy after losing its sixth straight game. Coach Mike Gossett shifted Maurice Grinter from quarterback to running back and put the emphasis more on the run than the pass. Grinter has rushed for 1,045 yards and thrown for 464 yards by completing 40 of 85 throws.

"They've won four straight since then," Smith said. "He runs hard and with speed and power. He is their best player. They were trying to throw the ball more when he was at quarterback, but they are a much better team now that they are running the ball."

Smith said Marcus Hambric and Will Smith are also athletic skilled players who will pose problems. Hambric has rushed for 400 yards and averages 6.8 yards per carry and caught 10 passes for 134 yards. Smith has 141 yards rushing and is 17-for-35 passing for 211 yards since moving to quarterback.

"Once they shuffled their personnel around, they really got on a roll and now they are all playing better," Smith said. "Their record is very misleading because for the last month, they are undefeated. I know they believe they have their personnel in the right positions now to make some noise in the playoffs."

Fairdale used a 4-4 basic defensive front but will often shift to a six-man front..

"They use their athleticism to get to the ball," Smith said. "They are more vulnerable to the run than the pass."

Boyle has been equally productive running or passing

Boyle's offense has been equally productive running or passing. Quarterback Brandon Smith has thrown for 1,780 yards, an average of 178 per game, and 25 touchdowns. The Rebels have rushed for 1,921 yards, an average of 192 yards per contest.

Quinn Givhan leads the running attack with 511 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brandon Smith has 463 yards and 11 scores and Danny Commarford 355 yards and two touchdowns.

Brad Cloud has been the team's big-play producer. He has 35 receptions for 646 yards and seven scores. He has rushed for 230 yards and five scores. He's averaging 18 yards per kickoff return. He has returned two of his team-high four interceptions for touchdowns. Cloud also has 72 tackles, second on the team to Andrew Bertram's 81.

"We feel like we've finally got all our own people in the right spots," Chuck Smith said. "We are as healthy now as we are going to get and it is time for us to put it all together to make a playoff run.

"Our attitude has been great in practice. Now we'll see how much better we have gotten over the past few weeks. There are no more second chances. It's either produce or quit playing now."

If the Rebels win, they would host the Central-Pulaski Southwestern winner in next week's second round.

"Right now we can't worry about that," Smith said. "We've got to put all our focus on Fairdale and get ready for the intensity they are going to bring. They have nothing to lose and our guys better understand that."

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