Smith: Rebels 'must come together'

August 26, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Chuck Smith has a warning for his Boyle County Rebels if they hope to win a sixth straight state championship.

"We have some difficult games ahead that will make or break us," said the Boyle coach. "We can either come together and compete or we are going to fall apart and not compete. The players know what we have to do."

Smith's team was upset 43-42 by host Lexington Catholic Saturday in what could turn out to be a Class AAA state title game preview. The Rebels had a 35-14 lead in the third quarter before Catholic rallied to go ahead 43-42. Boyle had one last chance to win but a 32-yard field goal by Adam Dickinson was just wide.

The Rebels had won 25 straight games since their last loss to West Jessamine midway through the 2002 season.

"We just had too many breakdowns discipline-wise on defense," said Smith. "They are pretty good, but we made it too easy for them with our defensive breakdowns.


"We could use lots of reasons and excuses for the loss, but they are only excuses. We don't need that. We just didn't get the job done. If we work to improve, we have a chance to regroup and have a good season. If not, then we are going to be turning our gear in early. But it's really too early to talk like that. Our overall goal was not to beat Lexington Catholic. It's to win a state championship and we can still do that."

First the Rebels must turn their attention to Henry Clay and Friday's game at Commonwealth Stadium. The Blue Devils lost at Paducah Tilghman last week in their season opener.

"Paducah Tilghman is fast and they broke several big plays with their speed," Smith said. "Henry Clay has gone to a new offense. It's more of a Hal Mumme-type spread offense. They have a nice quarterback (Salin Simpson) and good receivers. They focus on the short passing game, but they can throw long, too."

Blue Devils are more physical this season

Boyle has outscored Henry Clay 113-7 the last three years while recording easy wins each season. Smith said the Blue Devils play mainly juniors and seniors and have a more physical team this season. They also should benefit from the return of running back Rod Johnson, who missed the Paducah Tilghman game for disciplinary reasons.

"Our biggest problem is with ourselves," Smith said. "We have a lot of things to work on and some techniques that kids have to get better at. We have to take care of ourselves before we can worry about Henry Clay.

"Our team has some ability. We did score 42 points and had a nice lead, but then we had so many breakdowns in terms of taking care of our individual responsibilities. That can't keep happening."

Boyle should benefit from the return of tight end-linebacker Evan Teague, who didn't play last week because he was serving a one-game suspension for being ejected from last year's state title game. Senior Greg Peck also should be able to play more defense this week after being used primarily only at receiver last week because he had just been released to play following off-season knee surgery.

"We need them. They have to play both ways and make plays," Smith said. "We don't need sophomores or first-year starters out there. Those players need to be supporting players. We need Evan and Greg to be difference makers, and they can be."

Smith was not overly pleased with anyone on his team last week. Quarterback Brandon Smith ran for 136 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 186 yards and one score.

"We had a few good individual performances, but it has to be a team thing or nobody gets credit when you lose," the Boyle coach said. "I was pleased offensively until our last couple of drives. Then I think we fatigued and gave into that fatigue. I was not happy with the lack of discipline on our offensive line."

Smith hopes playing at Commonwealth Stadium where the Kentucky Wildcats play might help energize his team this week.

"It should be exciting. We had a big, special TV game last week that we blew. Now we have a chance to play in Commonwealth Stadium and maybe we won't blow this opportunity," Smith said.

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