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Bears end season with devastating loss

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By John Shindlebower

The Spencer County Bears suffered their most lopsided loss of the season Friday night, falling to 5A power Anderson County 60-18 in Lawrenceburg. The loss was the fifth in a row for the Bears and they’ll open postseason play Friday night at two-time and defending state champion Louisville Central.

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On the surface, there’s not much to be optimistic about, but head coach Wes Napper said he has faith in the team and thinks they’ve shown the ability to play with anybody in 3A.

But they’ll need to bounce back from Friday’s humiliating loss and they have one week to do it.

Spencer County actually jumped out on top of the Bearcats on their first play from scrimmage, when senior running back Cameron Smith took a hand-off, turned to throw in the backfield, and found Erico Smith open several yards down field. The 70-yard TD strike gave the Bears a quick 6-0 lead after the PAT was blocked.

However, Anderson County took their first possession and marched down the field, mostly through the air as senior quarterback and candidate for Mr. Football Jake Russell coordinated the attack. Facing a 4th and 11, Russell hit a receiver over the middle, who then split two defenders on his way into the end zone. The successful PAT made it 7-6 with just a little over three minutes gone in the first quarter.

Spencer County’s next drive was stopped on four downs and Anderson County was forced to punt as the first quarter came to an end with the score remaining 7-6.

Anderson County opened the second quarter with a drive that ended with a 26-yard scoring pass. The two-point conversion failed and the Bears trailed 13-6.

Another Spencer County punt and the Bearcats were back on the march. Russell scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper and another two-point conversion failed, making the score 19-6 with just under 7 minutes left in the first half.

Spencer County looked like it might muster a drive on their next possession, but a short screen pass was picked off on a great defensive play by Anderson County and they were able to march down and score again with just 27 ticks left on the clock to go ahead 26-6.

The Bears kicked off to begin the second half and Anderson County struck quickly on their fourth play with a 46-yard touchdown pass over the middle to take a commanding 33-6 lead.

Spencer County was forced into another three and out and Anderson County converted a short field into another touchdown on another QB keeper to go up 39-6 with six minutes left in the third quarter.

The Bears mustered some excitement on their next possession however when Erico Smith took a handoff at his own five-yard line and got loose and outran the Anderson County secondary for a 95 yard touchdown. The two point conversion failed and the Bears trailed 39-12.

Anderson County kept their starters in the game despite the lopsided score, and tacked on two more touchdowns in the quarter to go up 53-12 to end the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, both teams began to substitute, and the Spencer County reserves immediately began to move the ball. Freshman Case Smith scored on a big 60-yard touchdown run to narrow the gap to 53-18. However, Anderson County’s reserves scored on a 12-yard pass to finish the scoring and account for the 60-18 victory.

Napper knew coming in his team might be a little overmatched, but said his team did not play like they were capable.

“I thought we should have competed much better against Anderson County. I knew it was going to be a tough, physical game.”

On offense, the struggles began on the front line, with several injuries depleting the offensive line during the game.

“We were plugging freshmen in at times just trying to get by,” he said. He said the running game also took a hit when Cameron Smith was injured early in the game sat out the rest of the contest because of pain. He is expected to be back in time for Friday.

On defense, Napper gave much credit to Anderson County and their start quarterback.

“Anderson County is a very good ball club with a senior QB in Russell that is looking to win Mr. Football. Our defense struggled with some pass coverage assignments, but stayed upbeat and played hard the entire game.”

That positive attitude will need to carry over this week in practice and be there for Friday’s matchup with Central. Napper seems willing to lead by example and said he’s confident his team is up to the task.

“I have told them and firmly believe that we can play with anyone in 3A football when we play our game. Our goal is to roll into Louisville Central Friday night and shock the state,” said Napper.

“It can happen and will happen if our young men pull together and play football as a team that we did so often early in the season.”