PARIS – You can coach your football team with all your heart, soul and brainpower, but if your team does not have much speed, it’s hard to compete with an opponent that does.
The Western Hills Wolverines have found that out the hard way on at least two occasions this season – the latest coming Friday night in a 66-8 loss to the surging Bourbon County Colonels.
Bourbon County improved to 5-0 while Western Hills slid to 0-6. This was the district opener for both teams.
Like the earlier game against Franklin County (63-0), coach Don Miller’s Wolverines had no answer for the speed, athleticism and experience of their opponent, in this case, the home standing Colonels.
“It’s tough,” Miller said when asked about the inability to simulate Franklin County/Bourbon County kind of speed in practice. “And it’s not just us. It’s everywhere. There are a lot of teams trying to imitate some of the speed that’s out there, and what you’re up against.”
The Colonels disposed Western Hills with Franklin County-like explosiveness Friday, starting from the opening kickoff when BCHS senior star Kentayvous Hopkins picked up a bouncing football and ran it in from 65 yards out.
That was the first of five Bourbon County touchdowns in that first period, and the vast majority of the damage came on big plays.
Midway through the quarter the Colonels took over on their own 1-yard line after a great punt by Hills’ Casey McLean, and on the first play BCHS junior quarterback Dalton Pope hooked up with senior Joey Gomez for the 99-yard touchdown.
Bourbon’s third score came on a punt return of some 70 yards by junior Charles Johnson. Then Pope hit junior Jaxson Hilander from 31 yards out for a score, and Pope ran it in from 31 yards out for another score.
Pope opened the second quarter with a 62-yard touchdown run, and this game was headed towards the running clock, second half.
The Colonels extended the lead to 59-0 at halftime with another series of big plays, and they closed out their scoring with an 87-yard run by sophomore Brent Holman on their first possession of the third quarter.
Senior kicker Josue Soriano was nine of nine on extra points for BCHS and added a 33-yard field goal to boot.
Holman’s electrifying run came just moments after the Wolverines had failed to score from the Bourbon County 1-yard line, fumbling the ball over to the Colonels.
The Wolverines scored on a safety early in the fourth quarter when freshman back Marquaze Hill tried to run up the gut of the WHHS defense from his own 1-yard line and was gang tackled in the end zone.
And Western Hills got a touchdown on the last play of the game on a 17-yard strike from sophomore quarterback Nick Young to senior Ethan Cox.
Young also hooked up with senior wide receiver Jesse Martin on a 39-yard pass play on a 4th-and-10 situation late in the game.
McLean led the Wolverines’ offense with 106 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Western Hills lost four fumbles on the night and turned the ball over one other time on an interception.
“They have a lot of weapons,” Miller said of the Colonels. “And it’s not just Kentayvous. They have probably three guys who can take it to the house at any time.”
Indeed, Bourbon County coach John Hodge has a stable of riches. Hopkins is a legitimate star, but focus on him at your peril.
“Oh, it’s a blessing,” Hodge said with a laugh about the depth of his team’s star power. “When you don’t have to give the ball to Kentayvous 40 times a game, it’s a huge, huge plus because it makes the defense have to defend the whole field.”
Miller hopes his Wolverines realize there’s still plenty to play for. This was, after all, only the district opener. And Western Hills will not see another team in the class of Bourbon County before playoff time.
“We’ve talked about that,” Miller said of the realistic goals still in the picture for the Wolverines. “We still want to shoot for second place in the district, if possible. And, if not, get to the playoffs. That’s the main thing.
“It’s tough right now, but the kids are playing hard, and the coaching staff will work their butts off. We’re going to fight these last four games and take it from there.”