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A wet, chilly and windy night didn’t slow down the Spencer County Bears Friday night as they traveled to New Castle and finished out the school’s best ever season (7-3) with a 21-0 shutout of the Henry County Wildcats.
While it was less than perfect conditions for watching football, it was a perfect night for the Bears, whose signature style combines a grinding running game and a stifling defense. Both elements showed up in the final regular season game.
The defense made a statement early, forcing a fumble on the third play of Henry County’s first possession. The Bears took over on the Wildcat 25 yard line and rushed their way toward the goal line. Facing a third down and two, Spencer County’s Dalton Goodlett took the handoff and crossed the goal line for the game’s first score. The extra point made it 7-0.
Spencer County’s offense would struggle a bit the rest of the half. They were able to move the ball, but untimely penalties and some fumbles of their own killed potential scoring drives. Meanwhile, the Bears defense was their dominant selves in the first half and refused to let Henry County even threaten to score. At the halftime break, the Bears led 7-0.
In the third quarter, Spencer County took their first possession and, behind a 35-yard run by Logan Holbrook, found themselves in scoring position early. Chase Smith would then carry the ball over from one yard out for the Bears’ second touchdown. The extra point was wide left, but the Bears led 13-0.
Twice in the third quarter, Henry County got the ball deep into Spencer County territory. The first time came following a big kick-off return after the Bear’s second touchdown. They faced a first and 10 at the Spencer County 24, but a sack by Chris Dunbar set up a third and long and the Wildcats couldn’t convert, giving up the ball on downs.
The Bears would then give the Wildcats another chance after a fumble at their own 36, but again the defense stepped up and slapped down yet another threat.
Spencer County would score once more early in the third quarter. In his only pass of the game, Trent Holbrook found Chase Smith for a 24-yard gain to set up Logan Holbrook’s 1-yard touchdown run. Trent Holbrook then ran it in for the two-point conversion and the Bears led 21-0 with 9 minutes left in the game.
From there, the Bears’ defense continued to give up nothing, securing their third shutout of the season.
“I’ve said our team was built for bad weather, but that was a little extreme,” said Coach Mike Marksbury about the weather conditions. “I was happy to get the win and take care of business without suffering any major injuries. It was a solid performance.”
The Bears racked up 280 yards on the ground for the game, and were able to control both the line of scrimmage and the clock.
As has been the case most of the season, Marksbury had high praise for the defense, which held the Wildcats in check for just 103 total yards. “Defensively, I just can’t say enough. I am so proud of how hard our kids play.”
It was a good game to end the regular season on, and now the Bears must prepare for Nelson County, who will come to Taylorsville this Friday night for the opening round of the state playoffs. Nelson County has a record-setting passing game. The Bears got to see Nelson County in an August preseason scrimmage, and have gone up against some good passing teams this season, so Marksbury has confidence in his team.
“They are an extremely potent offense and they will be a challenge. It will take an entire team effort to be successful. We need to make sure we play solid defense and purse the ball.”
The Bears offense can be effective defense as well, controlling the ball and the clock to keep the potent Nelson offense on the sidelines. However, Marksbury was quick to point out that the Bears have opened up their offense a bit well in recent games and have been much more successful passing as well.
To see a state tournament bracket, visit http://khsaa.org/2012-playing-season-and-finals-statsresults/ and click on Class 4A Bracket under "Playoff Brackets."