It’s come down to this: There are only 12 games being played around the commonwealth tonight, and the only Advocate-area team in any of them is Garrard County.
More than one person has asked me in the past week if I would have thought at season’s beginning that Garrard, which hosts Belfry in a Class 3A semifinal tonight, would be the last local team standing, and of course my answer was no. But by the first of October, it really wasn’t a stretch at all.
It was becoming clear by then that the Golden Lions were better than advertised. It was evident that they had the kind of team that could do some serious damage within its district and in its regional playoff bracket, and that’s just what they did.
Now they’re off the map, having rolled through their region and into a bracket line where Garrard’s name has never been seen before. And now we’ll see how good they really are.
Is Garrard good enough to play with, even beat one of the best teams in the state? Belfry has probably been the best team in the mountains over the past 10 years, winning a couple of championships and contending for more. The Pirates will arrive in Lancaster believing they can and should win games like this against teams that have never been this far before.
It’ll be up to Garrard to match what figures to be a physical front line, get Belfry’s offense off the field to prevent long drives and keep its mistakes to an absolute minimum. If the Lions cannot do those things, Belfry will be headed back to Bowling Green. If they can, it’ll be a memorable night in Lancaster.
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The only other semifinal in our part of the world is a 5A game at Lawrenceburg, where Anderson County hosts Southwestern. It was hard to imagine the Warriors in this position at midseason in the wake of coach Dale Anderson’s abrupt resignation, but tonight they find themselves in a winnable game with a chance to reach the state finals.
It’s a tremendous credit to Andy Stephens, the former Casey County coach who was named Southwestern’s interim coach after Anderson stepped down, and the rest of the Warriors’ staff that this team was able not only to keep from coming apart, but to keep improving to the point where it could make a deep postseason run.
It is unfortunate that Stephens, who left Casey this spring to become a Southwestern assistant, got a battlefield promotion in the middle of the turmoil surrounding Anderson’s departure. However, it is impressive that he and his team have performed so well.
I couldn’t be happier for Stephens, a good guy who became a good coach at Casey, where that isn’t always easy or evident. I’ll be rooting for him tonight and rooting for him to be named the permanent head coach in the near future.
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- Belfry over Garrard County.
Last week: 2-0; season: 58-10 (.853).