Vaught's Views: Unsung players important to team's success

September 24, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Going into tonight's Danville-Highlands marquee showdown here, a few thoughts on area high school football.

* Homeland Equipment MVP of the Week.

If there has ever been a better week to illustrate why it's not always evident how to judge a player's value to a team, this was it.

Lineman Jason Claude of Danville and cornerback Phillip Dean of Boyle County were the weekly MVP winners picked by their respective coaches. They are not the most recognizable names on either team, but both are going to be keys to their respective teams' state title hopes.

Claude thought he would play last year before an injury made him a backup lineman. This year he not only starts on offense, but he also plays on defense and certainly has done an admirable job this season.


Dean could be the area's biggest surprise. He's become a playmaker in the secondary as shown by his 36 tackles and 12 pass breakups in five games. With the problems Boyle has had on defense, Dean has been the biggest pleasant surprise.

That's why being named the Homeland Equipment MVP really shows how unsung players can mean as much to a championship team as star players can.

* Copycat Highlands.

Highlands coach Dale Mueller figured after losing to Boyle twice and Danville once last year, that it might be wise to study what those teams do to get better each game. Apparently his Bluebirds learned their lessons well based on last week's 21-0 win over Boyle.

"Boyle and Danville are teams that continue to improve all year long, something we have not done the last couple of years," Mueller said. "We studied those teams to see what they were doing and how they are getting better. That's what we are doing now."

So what did he learn?

"A lot of teams we geared practice to just getting ready for the next opponent. Now practice is more geared to just getting ready in general with the long-term picture in mind," Mueller said. "Our strength program was to get us strong at the start of the season and then maintain during the year. Now it is designed to get ready for November and December.

"Offensive and defensive schemes that used to be geared to winning a particular game are now geared for winning in November and December. That's what Danville and Boyle have been doing. Based on how it worked for them, there's no reason for us not to try what they do."

* Impressive numbers.

Sometimes it's easy to almost take the numbers some area players amass for granted because they are expected to make big plays.

But one has to note that the area has three of the state's top right rushers. Danville's Kelvin Turner is third at 212.3 yards per game, Harrodsburg's Brandon Ford seventh at 182.3 yards per game and Mercer County's Andrew McCloud eighth at 182 yards per game. Go to 35th on the list and there's Garrard County's Spencer Crutchfield at 122.2 yards per game.

In scoring, Turner is 10th with 17 points per game, Ford 15th at 16.5 points and McCloud 16th at 16.

Boyle's Brandon Smith is fourth in passing at 256 yards per game and two of his receivers - Seth Tamme and Evan Teague - are in the top 25. Tamme is 12th at 91.2 yards per game and Teague 22nd at 75.5 yards per game.

* English football.

Finally, a noteworthy note from soccer (or football as it is known across the Atlantic ocean). Garrard County's Jacob Denny came into this week No. 1 in the state in scoring with 25 goals and teammate Corey Horn is sixth with 14 goals.

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