Bertram justifies Smith's confidence

December 02, 2003|MARTY WARREN

Having the opportunity to play defense for Chuck Smith at Boyle County takes a special mentality, especially to play in the middle of Smith's defense.

The player has to be a little mean, extremely tenacious and always close to the ball no matter what. That's why it usually is an upperclassmen that finally gets his chance to earn playing time in the middle of Smith's defense.

But not this year.

The Boyle coach had the confidence in sophomore Andrew Bertram to let him fill the inside linebacker position and Bertram hasn't disappointed the Boyle coach with his play this season. He has a team-leading 108 tackles heading into Saturday's Class AAA state title showdown with Fort Thomas Highlands at 12 noon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Smith said it is more than his aggressive play that makes Bertram stand out on the field.

"Starting for us as a sophomore on defense is hard to do, but Andrew is an extremely intelligent young man," the Boyle coach said. "He understands the concept of our defense and its philosophy. He is a leader in the making and has proved that all year. He just goes out and makes the plays."


He teamed with senior Ian Young and junior Danny Commarford to sack Paducah Tilghman quarterback Hunter Cantwell last Friday night on the final two series of the game to help keep the Blue Tornados and their high-powered offense out of the end zone in Boyle's 35-21 victory.

Off the field, Bertram is mild-mannered and usually quite. On the field, however, his intensity is an offense's worse nightmare. His aggressive style has had him consistently around the football throughout the year.

"It is a special opportunity for me to get a chance to play as much as I have as a sophomore," Bertram said. "You have to work hard to get to play in this system and I don't mind the contact. Coach Smith, (linebacker) coach (Jeff) Hester and coach (Chris) Mason have worked hard to make me a better player."

Hester has noticed the his improvement.

"He's really gotten better as the season has gone along," Hester said. "You can't say he is a sophomore anymore because he has 14 games under his belt.

"Being in the middle on defense, he has to make the right reads and make the plays. He has taken it among himself to take on a lot of responsibilities and get players lined up in the right spots. I'm proud of his work ethic. He is very coachable and that is a huge key.

"He has two more years of football with us and if he continues to stay healthy and improve, he could be something special for us. You can already see that he is getting more physical as the season has gone along. He needs to work on some fundamentals and get stronger, but he has a big heart and the sky is the limit for him."

Bertram is the first to admit that he still has a lot to learn about playing defense, but playing beside seniors Brad Cloud, Ian Loughry and Young has made the year an enjoyable experience.

"I try to step up my game but our seniors have been fantastic to be around," Bertram said. "They have pushed us all year to get better. You tend to listen more to players that have been successful. They have won state championships, and now I have a chance to play in a title game, too.

"I'm sure I will be a little nervous (Saturday), but once the game gets going I'm sure the game will be special to play in."

Central Kentucky News Articles