Vaught's Views: Penix ready to shine for Kentucky All-Stars

June 17, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Being part of state championship football teams at Danville was important to Charles Penix.

Now he's ready for his time to shine individually in the Kentucky-Tennessee All-Star Game.

Penix will be a starting running back Friday night in Knoxville when Kentucky tries to win the game for the fourth time in the last five years.

His last performance was a memorable one as he rushed for 268 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in Danville's Class A state title romp over Beechwood. He was named the game's most valuable player.

"I came here happy just to be part of the team," said Penix after practice Wednesday.

"This game is more of an individual thing. I was happy to be on state championship teams, but Danville is known for football and its tradition. I think playing in this game is more recognition for great individual play. To me, this is my chance to shine."


He rushed for 1,576 yards and 20 touchdowns

It's not like Penix is an unknown. He rushed for 1,576 yards and 20 touchdowns on only 151 carries last season in Danville's balanced offense.

He also caught six passes for 203 yards and three more touchdowns and returned 12 kickoffs for 352 yards and one score. He also had four defensive touchdowns.

He signed with Eastern Kentucky and while he's slated to begin his career as a running back, many schools recruited him as a linebacker.

The 215-pound Penix runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and can squat 450 pounds. He's impressed everyone on the Kentucky team with his strength and speed.

"I knew he was a good running back, but I really didn't know just how good," Rockcastle County coach Tom Larkey, who is coaching the all-star team, said.

Penix hopes more will know what he can do after Friday's game.

"I come from a small school known more for team success than individual success," Penix said. "I want to show people that Danville has good players, too."

He likes the Kentucky offense that quarterbacks Dustin Grutza of Mason County and Allan Holland of Perry County Central will be directing.

He says it is more "wide open" than the one at Danville, but that he'll still get chances to run even though he's been impressed by receivers Lonnell Dewalt of Warren East, Curtis Hamilton of Paducah Tilghman, Mario Urrutia of Fern Creek and Brandon Mason of East Jessamine.

"Even in the passing game, the backs are involved in the routes," Penix said. "There is not just one main guy in the passing game. The quarterbacks throw the ball well, right on target, and they both can run.

"We will run the ball. I've broken a few big runs in practice and hope to break some more Friday."

Dunn should get additional playing time

One of Kentucky's other backs is Harrodsburg's Mark Dunn. He should also get additional playing time after an ankle injury this week knocked Christian County's Alexis Haskett out of the game.

Penix says playing with Dunn is almost like having former Danville teammate Kelvin Turner in the backfield with him.

"It's great playing with Mark. He really had a good scrimmage Tuesday," Penix said.

"It's nice to have a familiar face there with me. We kind of motivate each other. We push each other every play. Best players bring out the best in each other."

Penix is confident Kentucky can win. He says the defense, which includes Boyle County's Brad Cloud and Ian Young, has been solid all week in practice and that the offense has steadily improved.

"If our offense just comes together and plays as well as our defense, we will be fine," Penix said.

He admitted he had discussed the Danville-Mayfield rivalry some with Mayfield offensive lineman Micah Jones this week.

Danville beat Mayfield three of the last four years in the Class A semifinals and won the state each time.

"He joked that he wasn't going to put an Admiral decal on his helmet when we were trading them at the start of the week, but I didn't bring any to trade anyway," Penix said.

However, he has liked the other talk he's heard from numerous teammates this week who obviously are envious of Title Town's success.

"They all think Danville and Boyle County are the best teams in the state," Penix said. "That puts a smile on my face, too. People know we are the two best teams. That makes me feel special, and I'm not about to tell them to quit talking because I know they are right."

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