Garrard's Stonebraker is Area Coach of the Year

November 25, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LANCASTER - Because Garrard County lost the majority of its top players off last year's 9-3 team, coach Steve Stonebraker knew others did not have high expectations for his team.

"In one way we may have exceeded expectations because most people did not think we could have this type of season after losing eight starters (from last year)," said Stonebraker. "But as a team, we will always have high expectations for ourselves. When we look back at this season we will think about the Corbin game and what might have been. But our kids should see more positives than negatives when they reflect on this season."

That's because Garrard finished 9-3 and advanced to the second round of the Class AA playoffs for the second straight year. Garrard had not won nine games in a single season since 1995 before reaching that mark two straight years now.

That's why for the second straight year, Stonebraker has been voted The Advocate-Messenger Area Coach of the Year in voting by area coaches. This is his third time overall to win the award. He also won when he guided Casey County to a 6-5 finish and Class AA playoff berth in 2000.


"He's always joking around, but he'll get after you. He'll get up in your face," Garrard lineman Zach Doan said. "I'm glad he came to Garrard County, and I hope he stays here for the younger kids."

Stonebraker, 39-25 in six years as a head coach, says his future will work itself out.

"All I am going to do right now is work as hard as I can for Garrard County. No coach ever promises that they will be here or there," Stonebraker said.

An obvious passion for the game

Stonebraker's passion for the game, and his players, is obvious. That emotion boiled over in Garrard's playoff loss at Elizabethtown when he was ejected for arguing with the officials.

"As a coach, I think you go through continuous learning," he said. "If you ever think that you have this game figured out, there is always something out there to smack you upside the head and get you back into reality. "The biggest lesson I learned this year is probably the toughest one for a football coach because it can seem unfair and that is no matter how hard you work, winning is not totally based on who outworks the other guy. Winning is based on so many other factors on those lights are turned on every Friday."

Stonebraker's emotional attachment to his players led to his dispute with the officials at Elizabethtown. "You always hear people say that a group of players would run through a wall for their coach," Stonebraker said. "I think that has to work both ways. When you teach a player to throw up his hands when he is punched late after a play and he does so but nothing is called, you must take up for what you have taught that player to do. If not, then they will stop believing in their coach.

"I am very passionate about this game and so are most of the kids who play for me. That is something that is easily transferable and why you see so many kids with tears in their eyes after a loss."

Senior quarterback-defensive back Spencer Crutchfield says no one questions Stonebraker's passion, but the players also understand he's the coach.

"It's been great (playing for him). He's hard on you, but he teaches you the game. He expects a lot from us," Crutchfield said. "He's one of the best coaches in the state. He cuts up with us at times, but we know there's times he's got to be the boss."

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