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Another football season goes into the record books for Spencer County as they wrapped up their sixth season. There were highs and there were lows, surprises and disappointments.
High: Football season started with a nice crowd on a nice night and even though the opening game was a loss to 6A Bullitt Central, the Bears showed signs of being very competitive, a trait that would prevail until the final weeks of the season.
Low: A light rain fell and Bears’ defenders could only watch as speedy Frankfort outran them on their way to a 25-7 victory, leaving Spencer County at 0-2 for the year.
High: The Bears bounced back thrashing 1A Pineville but, more than the victory, the players got to see some of the pretty scenery in southeastern Kentucky and played in a picturesque stadium beneath the shadows of Pine Mountain. It was an overnight trip for the team and a nice way for the players to bond.
High: - Yep - two in a row. The Bears returned home with the hopes of evening their record and did so in thrilling fashion against highly-ranked Western Hills. Facing a 1st and 10 from their own one-yard line with under a minute to play, Kevin Hume found Bryant Fowler for a pass, and Fowler found his way for 98 yards to the one-yard line of Western Hills. The Bears would punch it in for the win in probably the most exciting game played on Spencer County’s field.
Low: Back to back to back losses to Christian Academy of Louisville, North Oldham and Anderson County. These were highly touted teams, part of the Bears’ toughest schedule to date, and while the Bears proved they could compete against top-notch competition, they also had to be disappointed because they had opportunities to win each of these games.
High: Probably the biggest win in the program’s short history was on the road over ranked Henry County. It was total domination by the Bears, who kept the ball on the ground and simply ran over the Wildcats, 38-20. Without a doubt, the best display of football a Bears’ team has produced so far.
Low: The Bears fell apart at the end of the season. Offensively, they couldn’t convert and defensively, they gave up big play after big play. They lost 45-7 to Washington County, a team that on paper - they were probably evenly matched with. And they lost 32-19 to Shawnee in the playoffs - a team that on paper - they’re probably better than - but not on that night.
Coach Powenski said his biggest high came with the knowledge that the Bears finished second in the district.
His biggest low? The last two weeks.
FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS
The scene at the end of Friday’s playoff game with Shawnee was both ugly and unnecessary. And there is blame to be shared by all sides.
First, the officials have to do a better job of controlling the game. There were accusations of spitting, there were taunts, there were late-hits and personal fouls. I know officials need to let kids play, but they also need to exercise authority in situations where not doing so can cause tempers to rage out of control. Officials - take charge. If a kid is unruly, undisciplined and out of control - toss him from the game. I’ve seen kids on opposing teams and kids from Spencer County who should have been ejected.
Second - teams need to learn what it means to win with class and lose with class. Neither Shawnee nor Spencer County displayed the ability to do either Friday night. Shawnee started taunting early and they were loud and in-your-face and even refused to shake hands at the end. But I heard reports of Spencer County players who spit in the faces of Shawnee players (and one account came from a Spencer Countian who saw one such incident with his own eyes). And while I didn’t see every blow or every punch, from what I witnessed, the first one to cross the line in the melee was a player dressed in Spencer County blue. But Shawnee gets no points for that because it was the players in the white shirts I saw kicking an opponent who was already down.
While there were folks from both sides who ran to the field and a lot of words were exchanged, I think calmer heads eventually prevailed and what was an ugly few minutes could have turned tragic had better judgment not won out. Hats off to the mature folks on both sides who did little talking and more separating.
SPEAKING OF SELF-CONTROL
Too many times this year, Spencer County was hurt by players who showed little self-control. I can’t remember seeing so many personal fouls and unsportsmanlike penalties in high school than I did watching Spencer County this season.
Football is a rough sport and players need to be physically tough to play. But they also need to be mentally tough as well. I don’t care how much a player can bench press, how fast he can run or how hard he can hit, if an opponent can get into his head, make him angry and cause him to lose control - then he no longer because an asset to your team, but a liability. That happened too much for the Bears this season.
GOOD THINGS TO COME
But despite the disappointing end, Coach Powenski continues to build a solid program. He admits he’d like to have more numbers, and said he needs even more commitment from the players he does have. But each season the program takes another step forward. Next year, much of this team will be back. They showed spurts this year of being a really good team. If they can focus on doing what they do good, and trash what they do bad (see above), then the Bears could be playing past Thanksgiving next year.
SOMEONE I NOTICED
I never wrote this kid’s name in the paper, but I noticed him every week. I hardly saw him on the field, but he made his presence known on about every play. Finally - halfway through the season - I took note of his number, and then matched it with a name - Corey Howard. Why did I notice him? Because this kid is into the game. He stands on the edge of the sideline, yelling support for the defense, yelling support for the offense, and he never took a play off. Attitude is just as important as talent, and this kid is just a freshman. I hope he keeps that attitude going all four years of his career and I hope it’s contagious. If so, he’ll get noticed for more than just his yelling.