Vaught's Views: Title Town should have 2004 Mr. Football

December 07, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LOUISVILLE - Now that two more state championship trophies are back in Title Town, it's time to think about another trophy that should be coming here next year.

Sure, Danville and Boyle County will be more than capable of winning state titles again next year just as they did this weekend. But if Boyle quarterback Brandon Smith and Danville running back-linebacker Kelvin Turner play the same way next year that they have in the past, then the 2004 Mr. Football winner should be from Title Town.

In fact, Danville assistant coach Jerry Perry already thinks the Title Town duo could make as much of a claim to the award this year as Trinity quarterback Brian Brohm if they were seniors and eligible for the honor.

"I don't think there is anybody in the state better this year than those two guys," said Perry. "I know Brohm is awesome, but for what Smith does at quarterback for Boyle, Brohm is no better. Smith is just as good, if not better."


What about Turner?

"If we did not have Charles (Penix) on our team, Dukey (Turner) would have rushed for 3,000 yards. He averaged 10 yards per carry as it was. It's great he had Charles to help him, but there's nobody in the state better than Smith and Turner. They have to be the leading contenders for Mr. Football next year."

He's right - and not just because Turner ran for 186 yards and four scores in a 42-7 win over Beechwood Friday in the Class A title game or Smith threw for 201 yards and one touchdown or ran for 141 and four touchdowns in the Rebels' 44-10 win over Highlands Saturday in the Class AAA title game.

Let the numbers do the talking for both players. In three years for the Admirals, Turner has rushed for 4,513 yards and 61 touchdowns on 486 carries. That's an average of 9.3 yards per carry. He also has over 900 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches. This year he rushed for 2,134 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Smith's numbers the last two years are just as good, especially considering the pressure he was under when he took over at quarterback. Not only is he the head coach's son, but Boyle also had won 45 straight games and three consecutive state championships.

He's only 28-2 as a starter the last two years. Smith has completed 327 of 565 passes for 5,362 yards and 71 touchdowns the last two seasons. Need more? He's also ran for 1,477 yards and 26 touchdowns those same two seasons. That's 6,839 yards of offense and 97 touchdowns he's been responsible for in 2002 and 2003.

Can you say Mr. Football credentials?

Even better, they were at their best in big games. Against Danville, Smith threw for 238 yards and three scores and ran for two touchdowns. Against Paducah Tilghman, Smith passed for 249 yards and three scores and ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Against Highlands in the regular season, he threw for 267 yards and one score and ran for two touchdowns. Then, of course, there were the state championship performances.

Turner? He was just as good. Against Boyle, he ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Against Mayfield, he got 100 yards and one score. Against Highlands, he rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

Yet what makes both players even more deserving of the award is that they are both team-oriented players. Statistics don't matter to either one. It's winning, not individual numbers, that count.

"A lot of people talk to me about Mr. Football, but I don't think or worry about it that much," said Turner. "It really doesn't mean anything to me.

"Getting to Louisville and winning a state title, that's what counts. Another state championship would mean more to me than winning Mr. Football."

Smith feels the same way.

"As long as we can win the state, that's all that really matters to me," Smith, who had a 76-yard touchdown run Saturday, said. "I guess that Mr. Football stuff is fine, but I would rather win games and win the state. Heck, I wasn't even the best player on our team this year. That was Brad Cloud."

No disrespect to Cloud, but this time Smith is wrong. He was Boyle's best player. Just like Turner was Danville's best player.

"Turner is as good as anybody we've seen. He's right there with the best I've coached against. He runs hard, plays hard and has great speed. He's one of those special players that doesn't come along very often," Beechwood coach Mike Yeagle said.

"Brandon Smith is phenomenal. He does everything well and always makes the right decisions. You might think you are going to rattle him, but you won't. He's a tough kid, too. Not only can he throw and run, but he can give a hit as well as take one," Paducah Tilghman coach Perry Thomas said.

Boyle assistant coach Chris Pardue really didn't want to endorse the two candidates, but even he couldn't help himself.

"Both of them do have a great shot at being Mr. Football because they play on teams that win," Pardue said. "They get a lot of exposure, but they are both also really good. You've just got to hope they can take it to an even higher level next year and not let the pressure bother them."

They will improve because they have ever year and they won't let pressure bother them because playing in Title Town, you learn to be immune to that and that's why Smith and Turner have to be the top 2004 Mr. Football candidates.

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