Versatile Givhan eager to play Highlands again

November 30, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

Quinn Givhan can't wait to meet Michael Mitchell again.

When the two last made contact with each other about 2 1/2 months ago, Mitchell delivered a hit to Givhan that changed Boyle's game against Highlands and threatened to end Givhan's senior season.

Givhan got back on his feet and back on the field - sooner than his doctor said he should - and helped the Rebels recover from that loss by racking up rushing yards week after week.

In an offense that has produced some gaudy passing numbers this season, Givhan has quietly and consistently gotten the job done on the ground. He hopes to make his presence known Saturday when Boyle and Highlands meet again in Louisville for the Class AAA state championship and Givhan gets a chance to face Mitchell again.


"I want to show him I'm still here," Givhan said.

He has run for more yards than any Boyle back in the last four seasons, and he has a chance to close his career with over 2,500 yards, almost all of them in the last two years.

Boyle quarterbck Brandon Smith, Givhan's oldest friend, knows his worth as well as anyone.

"He's a great back," Smith said. "He can do a little bit of everything. He's come up with big plays all year for us time and time again."

Givhan was trying to make a big play when Mitchell, a defensive back, unloaded on him early in the second quarter of the Sept. 19 game. Givhan was hit hard in the midsection as he went airborne in the end zone trying to catch a pass from Smith. It was a clean hit, one that took away a touchdown that might have tied the game and a measure of Givhan's pride as well.

"I've watched that one over and over again," Givhan said. "I had my foot down. I scored. But that's the first time I stayed down (after a hard hit). It made him the bigger man on that play."

Small tear in his liver

It also made for a scary night for Givhan. He was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where tests revealed a small tear in his liver.

"It was really scary. I didn't know what was happening," he said. "But it sounded a lot worse than it was."

Givhan said his doctor told him he would be fine and fit to finish the season if he stayed off his feet for two weeks.

"That wasn't an option for me," he said. "I made the doctor write me a note so I could come back a week earlier."

Givhan didn't miss a game. Two weeks after his injury, he returned after Boyle's bye week to rush for 99 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Pulaski Southwestern.

There have been other big nights, too, including a 101-yard performance last week against Hopkinsville.

But Highlands has never been far from his mind - or his VCR. Givhan got a tape of that game from a northern Kentucky television station, and he said he and teammate Danny Commarford have watched it at least once a week.

"I love doing that every week," Givhan said. "It gets me pumped up."

Givhan has helped pump up Smith's passing numbers with his running. More than 50 percent of Boyle's offensive yardage has been generated by the passing game, but Smith said Givhan deserves some of the credit for that.

"He opens up the passing game," Smith said. "People can't focus on the passing game because of him."

Smith believes friend is overlooked

Smith said he thinks Givhan is often overlooked among Boyle's stars.

"It kind of upsets me," Smith said. "He's such a great athlete. People don't really realize how good he is."

As far as Givhan is concerned, it's a team effort, especially when it comes to working with Smith.

"I take pride knowing when we've got a great quarterback like that, if I just establish any kind of a running game Brandon can really open up with the pass," Givhan said.

The two became fast friends as kindergarten-age kids when Smith moved with his family - including Boyle coach Chuck Smith - to Danville's Streamland neighborhood in 1992.

"He was the first friend I ever had," Givhan said.

The two live less than half a mile apart, and they jokingly call themselves the "Streamland Double-Team." Still, Givhan often finds himself in his friend's shadow.

"I do get lost in the shadows sometimes, and sometimes it frustrates me," Givhan said. "But when we get a win and other people get their numbers, it becomes secondary."

Givhan ran for 924 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2003, and this year he has 1,361 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. He needs just 125 yards to reach 2,500 for his career.

"He's a workhorse for us," Smith said. "He just grinds it out."

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