Injuries concern Smith going into first game

August 19, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Boyle County might be battered going into Saturday’s season-opening game in the Saint Joseph Healthcare Bluegrass Bowl at Lexington Catholic, but that doesn’t make Bob Sphire feel any better.

“Boyle County is still the measuring stick for every team in Kentucky and we will go with every bullet we have,” said Sphire, Lexington Catholic’s head coach.

“We won’t do anything stupid. We still have a bigger picture in mind later in the year, but this is a game we would love to win.

“We expect to play hard, but we know who we are taking on. Is it impossible (to win)? Absolutely not. But what Boyle has done the last few years is amazing, and that might be an understatement. They are Kentucky’s premier program and they don’t even think about losing.”


Not true. Boyle coach Chuck Smith, who has led Boyle to a 73-2 record and five straight state titles the last five years, knows Catholic has a “good team” and that his team is not going to be at full strength for Saturday’s matchup.

“We suffered through injuries most of the summer, but that’s the cards we’ve been dealt,” Smith said. “You can whine about it or go play. We’re going to line up and play, but we could start the season 0-5 and still be a good team before the year ends.”

Smith could be without several players Saturday. He knows senior tight end-linebacker Evan Teague won’t play because he’ll have to sit out following his ejection in last year’s state title game. Center Brandon Robbins is also possibly out because of a knee injury.

Receiver-cornerback Greg Peck has been slow to recover from offseason knee surgery, but was able to start full practice this week. Lineman Brandon Record sprained his knee last week, but is expected to play. Running back-linebacker Danny Commarford has a broken hand. Receiver-defensive back Seth Tamme missed three weeks of practice because of a shoulder injury. Receiver-safety Hagan Smith only started practicing last week because of a broken wrist.

“We are going to stick with our system. We’ve just got to have other people step up,” Smith said.

Game features two of state's best quarterbacks

The game will feature two of the state’s best quarterbacks, Boyle senior Brandon Smith and Catholic junior Justin Burke.

Burke threw for 2,700 yards and 34 touchdowns last year.

“He can pick you apart,” the Boyle coach said. “He throws a catchable ball and is accurate. They will want to establish the run, but they really like to throw.”

Burke has three talented receivers in Tyler Hinkel (49 catches for 1,043 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2003), Kevin Vogelsang (45 catches for 600 yards) and Cornell Burbage.

“Burbage is a big-play receiver,” Smith said.

Sphire says Burke is a “once-in-a-lifetime” quarterback to coach.

“He has everything you are looking for. He has all the intangibles physically as well as emotionally and mentally,” Sphire said.

“If I am a fan, just watching these two quarterbacks would be a real treat.”

Brandon Smith threw for 2,971 yards and 40 touchdowns last year and rushed for 943 yards and 19 touchdowns. Sphire compares him to Dusty Bonner, who led the Lexington Horsemen to the National Indoor Football League championship under Sphire’s coaching.

“Brandon is the Dusty Bonner of Kentucky high school football,” Sphire said. “He’s a true winner. He’s a competitor. He’s a great athlete, but he’s a winner first. He is one guy you want on your team.”

Chuck Smith wouldn’t mind having Catholic linebacker Brandon Logan on his team. He’s considered one of the state’s premier players and has scholarship offers from numerous schools. However, he has been slowed by a hamstring injury.

“We are not taking any chances with him,” Sphire said. “We wanted to work him on offense, but we’ve not been able to do that because defensively he has to be the man.”

Boyle offensive coordinator Chris Pardue has been impressed by Logan.

“Logan makes play all over the field. He just runs people down,” Pardue said.

“Against Trinity (in a scrimmage), he ran a running back down from behind. He has a lot of speed and he will take a shot at you.”

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