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Friday night’s 27-0 shut-out over rival Bullitt East may have been the biggest win in the 10-year-history of the Spencer County High School football program. There have been other milestone moments and wins, but this victory seemed to fire up the crowd, the students, the players and the coaches more than any in the past.
It came against arguably the school’s biggest traditional rival, against a Charger program that has been to the top — just a few years ago playing in a state title game, and it came in dominating fashion. This win was big.
“These are the wins that make all the hard work worth it,” said Bears’ Head Coach Mike Marksbury. “To see the looks in the faces of our players after the game, the smiles and the excitement was awesome.”
“Bullitt East has had a tremendous amount of success,” he said. “Everyone who follows our program understands that Bullitt East has a solid program and this game showed everyone that the Spencer County program is growing and we will keep building.”
Bullitt East had come into the game with a powerful offense that had averaged over 40 points a game. “For us to shut them out was just an amazing performance,” said Marksbury. While the defensive effort was amazing, it wasn’t anything new for Spencer County.
In their previous two games, the stingy Bears’ defense had given up less than 100 yards per game. Bullitt East was considered a much more formidable offense, but yet the Chargers were held to under 180 total yards on the night.
“I can’t really say enough about our defense. They prepared well and I threw a lot at them to make sure we were prepared for Bullitt East. They watched a lot of film and understood our alignments, what their keys were and most importantly, they played fast and physical. Part of that came through some new guys stepping up. He singled out Tyler Fleig who got the start at cornerback to help give Shawn Boykin a rest, so Boykin could be more effective on offense.
Offensively, Boykin joined in on the potent running attack that Marksbury admits may not be flashy, but can effectively get the job done. Boykin had some big runs and key first downs on nine carries for 85 yards. Senior Chase Smith, who had a great game on both sides of the football and providing great punting as well, picked up 107 yards on 12 carries. Freshman Logan Holbrook opened a lot of eyes with 105 yards on 12 carries on offensive, and a quarterback sack on defense that got his teammates on the sideline fired up in the second half.
The running game not only moves the ball, but keeps the clock ticking as well and can be demoralizing to an opponent late in the game. The key to running the ball starts up front, and Marksbury said his offensive line did what they were supposed to do — get off the football and push people around. The line often doesn’t get the fame, but they deserve a mention this week. The lineman who played the bulk of the minutes Friday included William Currie, Aaron French, Tyler Eldridge, Jacob Lashley, Gage Daniels, Chris Dunbar, Braxton Leff and Alex Hagman.
“Those guys were challenged and they answered the bell and controlled the game.”
Marksbury also singled out quarterback Trent Holbrook, for again running the offense and making good decisions. He got the Bears on the scoreboard first midway through the second quarter on a quarterback keeper from about two yards out. The point after kick by Fleig was good and the Bears were up 7-0.
Spencer County forced a punt and took the ball over on the Bullitt East 37-yard-line late in the half. Logan Holbrook picked up 15 yards and later scored from four yards out and the Bears took a 14-0 at the half.
Most of the second half was a defensive stalemate until late in the fourth quarter when the Bears took over and put together a long, time-consuming drive that culminated with a touchdown run of 12 yards by Boykins. The PAT missed, but the 20-0 lead with just over three minutes remaining pretty much sealed the deal.
But just for good measure, a turnover by Bullitt East led to Spencer County getting the ball inside the Charger 10-yard line, and Chase Smith took it over from seven yards out to put the Bears up 27-0.
After the final whistle blew to end the game, Marksbury ran onto the field to congratulate members of his defense, then huddled the team in the endzone for some post-game remarks.
“We can play some football!” he told them. “When you play defense and when you run the football and play special teams — that’s the recipe to winning a lot of games,” said Marksbury to his team.
He told the players to enjoy the win, but be prepared to come out next week and work hard to prepare for Woodford County, whom the Bears will host on Friday night. The Yellowjackets have a powerful running attack, some division 1 college prospects on defense and will pose a considerable threat. They are 3-0 on the year and averaging 44 points per game.
Marksbury is hoping for another good turnout of fans for the game. “Both at home and on the road our fans follow our program. The environment last Friday night was electric and when the crowd gets loud, they team really feeds off of that. The student section and the band and all the fans make for a great atmosphere and our program is extremely thankful for the support,” he said.
This Friday is Future Bear Night, and Marksbury is asking all players for the Stallions and middle school Grizzlies to wear their game jersey for free admission and to be recognized at the game.