Vaught's Views: Smith, Turner rank among the greats

December 05, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Boyle lost 22-6 in the Class AAA state title game to Highlands Saturday about 24 hours after Danville fell 23-7 to Beechwood in the Class A final.

Smith was just 8-for-26 passing for 117 yards and had four passes intercepted. Turner ran for only 76 yards on 18 carries and lost one fumble. Both were season-low totals and marked the first time in their distinguished careers that they had not been at their best in a big game.

Of course, the opposing defenses had a lot to do with that. Smith was sacked three times and hit about 20 times. Turner never had an open running lane.

But never doubt that they are two special players. Turner finished his career with 116 touchdowns, the most in state history, and 702 points, the second most. He ranks four in career rushing (7,070 yards.


Smith goes out as the state's seventh most productive passer with 8,796 yards. His 116 career touchdown passes are the sixth best in state history.

Still, both players were heartbroken that their final high school game was a loss.

"It hurts. I blew it. That's all I can say," Smith said as the tears flowed on the sideline Saturday.

Turner had to leave the field immediately after the Admirals' loss to compose himself. "I never thought about us losing," he said. "I just didn't do my part."

Both are wrong. Without them, Boyle and Danville would not have been in Louisville for the title games.

The two players never compared individual numbers during their careers, but they both admit that what the other one did might have provided some subconscious motivation.

"Actually, it's pretty incredible the numbers we have," Smith said. "A lot of it has to do with the guys we play with. I think our (senior) classes have always tried to outdo each other and that might have pushed us both to greater heights."

"First, we both do what we have to do to help our teams win," Turner said. "I think the attention we have got has helped motivate both of us. I'm glad we have both done what we have and I hope he goes on to have a great college player. He's a phenomenal player."

They both are.

Almost 20,000 total yards combined

You don't see two players combine for almost 20,000 yards of total offense during their careers and consider them lucky. These are two highly-skilled players who delivered so many big plays for their teams during their careers that it would be impossible to even remember them all.

Danville coach Sam Harp isn't sure if everyone in Title Town fully understands just how special the two players have been.

"I think it is extremely unusual, even in a big town, let alone the size of Danville and Boyle County, to have two players do what they have at the same time," Harp said. "I don't know for sure if the fans understand how blessed they were to have two such talented kids here in the same town at the same time. We probably will not see that again.

"How long has high school football been played? We started in 1924 at Danville, but yet (Turner) is the all-time leading touchdown guy in state history. How impressive is that? Then look out the road and see what Brandon has done. He's a gutsy kid, and I respect him for what he's done. He's one of the most productive quarterbacks ever to play in the state based on statistics, but he's also a winner."

Boyle coach Chuck Smith was always hesitant to overly praise his son. But he knew the pressure Brandon Smith had on him trying to follow Jeff Duggins, Kentucky's 2001 Mr. Football, who led Boyle to a 45-0 record and three straight state titles.

"He had the weight of the world on his shoulders," Chuck Smith said. "He should not be judged by one game. He had a great career. He's one of the greatest we have had to play here. He had a career anyone would have been proud of."

They both did. Both helped their team win two state titles. Both put their name in the state record book. Both filled whatever role was asked and always valued winning more than individual numbers.

Maybe they didn't win their final games, but never doubt that these were simply the two best players in Kentucky this year and that we may never see a pair this good playing at the same time in Title Town again.

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