UK-Louisville game has special interest for Boyle coaches

September 05, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Not many things could make Boyle County coach Chuck Smith alter his normal weekend preparations for his team's next game.

But today's Kentucky-Louisville game is an exception.

Smith will have four of his former players - Louisville senior defensive lineman Bobby Leffew, Louisville junior offensive lineman Travis Leffew, Kentucky junior placekicker Taylor Begley and Kentucky freshman receiver Jacob Tamme - playing in the game. That's why the coach, and his assistants, spent more time than normal Saturday preparing for this week's game at Nelson County and also came to work earlier than usual today.

"This is a big thing. We have four boys playing we all want to watch," said Smith. "Not many things would make me change my schedule, but this is one."

What about a Louisville-Kentucky game that didn't have former Rebels playing?

"I'm not sure we would change our plans for that," said Smith, a former UK linebacker.


He wouldn't. He hasn't won five straight state titles, and 75 of 78 games after Friday's 37-30 win over Danville, by altering his work schedule. However, this is different because Boyle has more former players playing in today's game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium than any other team.

"It's really neat and makes it much more interesting to watch because we have somebody on both sides," Smith said. "You might have Jacob in at the same time as Bobby. Travis plays every snap on offense usually. Taylor will be kicking. It's fun to watch them all play."

Today's Title Town reunion will also include Danville's Andrew Hopewell, a special teams standout for Kentucky that Danville coach Sam Harp and his staff will also be watching intently. While the Danville staff can openly root for Hopewell's team, Smith and his staff can't pick a side. Not with former players on both teams.

"As a coach, you are proud of them all. You want them all to play well, but you can't pull for just one in this game," Boyle offensive coordinator Chris Pardue said. "It's kind of like a Danville-Boyle County game. You just have to watch and enjoy."

Pardue, a former Kentucky season ticket holder, was always a Big Blue fan.

"But that was before Bobby and Travis went to Louisville," Pardue said. "Now I pull for both teams all year."

So does Smith.

"We just cheer for the boys. We don't pick a team. We can't. We just want our boys to do well," Smith said.

Smith watch this game a little differently

Smith watches this game a little differently, too. Instead of following the football, he watches the former Rebels and admits he'll catch himself grading their performances just as he did when they played for him and helped Boyle win state championships.

"If they are in the game, I am going to watch them," Smith said. "I watch every play. If they are not doing what they are supposed to do, I'll call them a few names. I guess I almost watch the game like a coach would. I like to know what they are doing."

They should all be doing plenty today. Travis Leffew has started 26 straight games at "weak tackle," a spot that does little to imply how big (297 pounds) and strong he is. Bobby Leffew will start at defensive tackle and is being counted on to make even more big plays this season. Tamme figures to be in UK's playing rotation at receiver and Begley is a proven placekicker who made two big field goals in Kentucky's win at Louisville two years ago.

That success is something the Boyle coaches constantly tell their current high school players about and why most of the current Rebels will be watching today's game, too.

"We tell our kids that we have four former players getting ready to play on national TV," Pardue said. "Those guys are on NCAA video games. That's part of the tradition of our program. We can show our guys the kind of recognition you can earn by being in this program."

These are not the only former Rebels playing college football. However, they are the four that will be in the spotlight today along with Danville's Hopewell.

"I can't win, but I can't lose, either, today," Smith said. "I like to see Kentucky win all their games. I like to see Louisville win all their games.

"I just cheer for the boys. I'll always be for Kentucky, but this game is different. I cheer for the boys, not a team."

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