COLUMN: Bears’ memorable football season still ongoing

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By John Shindlebower

One of the most memorable sports stories in recent Spencer County history was the postseason run by the Bears boys’ basketball team in 2011. The team made it all the way to the finals of the 8th Region Tournament where they fell just short of earning a trip to the Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena. It would have been the first time any school from Spencer County had made it to the state basketball tournament.
One of the greatest parts about that postseason was the excitement and community pride it produced. The Bears hosted the district tournament and fans began filling the gym hours before tip-off. By the time the game started, you couldn’t have squeezed another body into Lloyd Mullins Gymnasium with a shoe horn.
The next week, when the Bears traveled to Henry County for the Regional tournament, the fan support was even better. The bus carrying the team was escorted with a long convoy of cars, vans, SUVs all packed with blue-clad Spencer Countians. It’s no stretch to suggest that at least 2,000 Spencer County fans made the trip, or if you want some perspective – that’s probably about 13 percent of the population of the entire county.
These fond memories are stoked by imagining a huge crowd this Friday night for the opening round of the football playoffs. This Spencer County Bears squad is 7-3 – the best record in school history. In many of their wins, they have simply dominated and this team truly has the potential to make a postseason run every bit as impressive as the basketball team from two years ago.
Even if you’re not a Spencer County alum, if you like good high school football, Taylorsville this Friday night could be the place for you. The Bears, who have perfected the clock controlling, grind it out running game and are statistically one of the stingiest defenses in the state, will host Nelson County, which boasts a record setting quarterback who threw for 8 touchdown passes in a single game earlier this year.
The Bears truly have the talent, heart and ability to advance at least a few rounds. It’s unchartered territory for Spencer County football, and here’s your chance to join them and root them on along the journey.

Throwback uniforms
We’ve seen them in most major sports, a touch of nostalgia as players don the uniforms worn by their predecessors from decades ago. Sometimes the historic look is classy and full of great memories. The Reds this season wore uniforms made famous by the Big Red Machine of the 70s. Granted, the differences between then and now were more in style than design, but watching the game you could almost picture Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan or Pete Rose in the on-deck circle.
Other attempts have been somewhat comical. Whoever thought brown and yellow would look good on a professional baseball player? Apparently the folks in San Diego. They’ve wised up since the 70s and 80s, and if throwback game day serves any redeeming purpose, it’s to remind the Padres why they should never go back there. And who can forget the Houston Astros and their shirts of many colors? Bringing those out of the closet is good for almost as many laughs as if the Chicago White Sox would dust off their knee-length shorts they actually sported many years back.
But on Sunday, a crime against the collective visual senses of millions of football fans was committed in Pittsburgh. Grown men looked like they should be auditioning to be the Queen Bee mascot from that ill-fated hamburger chain. At least Burger Queen had the good taste enough to go away and stay away. Why did Pittsburgh ever think we needed, or wanted to see what has to be the most embarrassing uniforms ever worn on a field of play? I’m not a Steeler’s hater. As a long-suffering Bengals fan, I’ve both envied and admired the Steelers success for decades. However, NFL officials should put Pittsburgh on notice. Even considering coming out of the locker room in those uniforms again should result in about 53 unsportsmanlike conduct flags – one for each offending team member.

U of L Football
It’s not been pretty, but the Cardinals are perched atop the Big East with a 7-0 record and in control of their bowl destiny. Hats off to Charlie Strong and his staff for taking care of business week in and week out. I know a lot of fans are clamoring for a blowout victory or two, but take it from a fan who sports a “K” on his hat – you have nothing to complain about.

UK football
In Lexington however, it’s a different story. I like Joker. I remember him as a player and wanted so bad for him to succeed. It hasn’t happened and a change is needed. Kentucky needs a fresh start and a new direction.
I think that direction needs to be north. UK’s greatest liability (membership in the SEC) is also its greatest asset. However, Cat fans should simply forget about competing in most southern states for top recruits. What’s left of the high school rosters in the deep south after Bama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and other conference giants, not to mention other football powers like Miami and Florida State get through, is slim pickings.
Kentucky needs to look across the Ohio River into Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and other regions. There’s no doubt the Big 10 is not what it used to be. Michigan is down, Penn State is all but out with another three years of postseason probation. How about a new coach who will sell the four and five star players from up north on the chance to play in the best conference in the country, while also being close enough to home where Mom and Dad can come watch.
I’m a proud southerner by birth, but what UK might need now is a little Yankee ingenuity and a lot of northern talent would help, too.