Boyle's Drive for Five works

December 07, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LOUISVILLE - During the last five years, Chuck Smith has not made many mistakes.

However, the Boyle County coach learned he did make one when his Rebels were trying to set the state's all-time win streak during the 2002 season. Rather than talk about what it would mean to break the 50-game mark, he chose to limit talk about the state record even as Boyle's streak reached 47 in a row.

Danville ended Boyle's win streak three short of the state record. That's why as the Rebels got in position to win an unprecedented fifth straight state title this season, Smith openly talked about it with his players.

"Not talking didn't work last year," said Smith Saturday after his Rebels beat Highlands 44-10 here to become the first team ever to win five straight state titles. "I thought it would just be best to talk about it and let the players know that the one thing that would bring all five (state title) teams together would be to go into the record book. Now they are all one together in the record book."


Junior lineman Jacob Arnold said the players often would talk about what it would be like to get a fifth straight title and 25th straight playoff victory, which is another state record.

"This means the world to me and coach Smith made sure we understood what we were after," Arnold said. "The players would always talk about it, but so did the coaches. But once a game started, we just focused on winning battles every play. We never got caught looking ahead."

Assistant coach Chris Pardue said it was midway through district play that the coaches made sure the players knew they had a chance to be part of state history. Since Boyle had won a state title every year each player had been on the team, the coaches didn't want the players to take their accomplishments lightly.

"We should have talked more about the winning streak and what it meant," Pardue said. "That would have given them a focal point. This time we did that."

"I think our players didn't realize what they had let slip away (with the winning streak) until it was over," Boyle assistant Chris Mason said. "You only get so many chances to make history. We made it clear this might be our only chance ever to win five straight state titles.

"Chuck realized talking about the five championships would be the right thing. He knew we made a mistake before and we mentioned the five championships a lot all week. This time we didn't let the opportunity slip away."

That's because Boyle dominated a team it beat by just one point in the regular season. The Rebels amassed 450 yards of total offense and held Highlands to 250. Twice Highlands got inside the 10-yard line but couldn't score.

Whenever the Rebels needed a big play - either on offense or defense - they got it just as they had in their four previous state title appearances. Highlands did have leads of 3-0 and 10-7 - the only times Boyle had ever trailed in a title game - but the Rebels never came close to letting their Drive for Five slip away.

"I'm glad the coaches talked so much about it," senior lineman Zach Cooley said. "They reminded us every day this week about what this win could mean. We didn't do that with the winning streak. It was like we didn't want to talk about because we might lose focus. I'm glad the coaches made us focus on the five titles ."

Cooley said trying to set the all-time winning record and the bid to win five straight state titles had equal pressure.

"Both marks took tremendous efforts. Both are historic accomplishments," he said. "I just think that the difference this time was that we openly talked about what we wanted to do. That kept the pressure off a little bit and also kept us more focused."

That's what Smith wanted.

"We weren't going to blow this opportunity to get into the record books," the Boyle coach said.

Now the Rebels can take aim at the winning streak again. They've won 25 in a row and return the majority of their players next year when they'll go for a sixth straight state title.

"They could very easily win again next year," Cooley said. "I could see them winning every game, too."

That's a little more optimistic than Pardue wanted to be as others celebrated around him at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

"I'm not sure any of us realize how big this is," Pardue said. "It might be several years down the road before we all really realize just what we've done and how hard it was to do. But at least we can always look in the record book and see what we've done."

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