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REBELS AND REDHOUNDS WIN CLOSE SEMIFINAL MATCHUPS

When Chuck Smith came to Boyle County from Campbellsville in 1992, he inherited a program that had gone 7-34 over their last four seasons. Boyle hadn't produced a winning record since going 7-3 in 1986. The Rebels hadn't played in a playoff game since losing to Corbin in 1982. Success came quickly for Smith, relative to Boyle's past, as they shocked Harrodsburg in their opening game on the way to a 7-4 record and their first playoff appearance in a decade.

Twenty-five years later, Boyle County is again coached by Chuck Smith (after a nine year hiatus to the University of Kentucky and Bardstown High School) and winning records are now the norm on Perryville Road. Once downtrodden, the Rebels now own seven state championship trophies, the last of which was won in 2010. After six years of being denied the top prize, Boyle County looks like the favorite to win Class 3A.

However, an old foe stands in the way. Corbin, who beat Boyle County 10-7 with a 33-yard Matt Phillips field goal on a cold November night in 1992 to end Smith's first season at Boyle, will try to deny the Rebels an eighth state championship while winning their fourth crown (the Redhounds also claim two "mythical" state championships from before the playoff system was instituted in 1959).

Corbin defeated Central, 21-20, on Friday night to assure their place in the state championship game, their first finals appearance since 2002. The Redhounds raced to a 21-0 lead and held on as Central mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback.

"It’s been a long time coming here," Corbin coach Justin Haddix told the Corbin Times-Tribune. "Louisville Central is a great football team, but our kids just kept fighting. We get to play (No.) 15 next week. Obviously you want to win that 15th one — I don’t even know who we’re playing, but I am excited about it." (HUNTING SEASON EXTENDED: Corbin’s 'hunt for six' continues after 21-2 win over Louisville Central | Sports | thetimestribune.com)

Who they're playing is of course Boyle County. It wasn't easy for the Rebels either. Kaden Gervacio intercepted an Elizabethtown pass with less than five minutes remaining and Landen Bartleson ran in the go-ahead score to seal a 14-7 victory.

"It means the world to me," Smith told the Danville Advocate-Messenger. "Every Boyle County kid should have a chance to experience it. But experiencing it is not enough. We want to win it. We’re not done yet." (Timely turnovers the key for Rebels in win at Elizabethtown | The Advocate-Messenger)

Looking back at some old newspapers this week, the same comments Chuck Smith made to the Danville Advocate-Messenger before the Corbin matchup in 1992 are still the Rebel recipe a quarter-century later:

"The only chance we have to beat Corbin is to flat get after it. If we sit back on them, they'll kill us. We've got to find ways to win. We've got to attack...and we've got to swarm on defense and get a lot of people to the ball." (5 Nov 1992, Page 13 - The Advocate-Messenger at Newspapers.com)

As for Haddix, who wasn't even born the last time Corbin won a state title and who was only eight years old when Boyle and Corbin met in 1992, he knows winning a championship will be a challenge:

"They don’t give these things away (when you get this far)," he told the Corbin Times-Tribune in the same article linked above. "You’ve got to earn them."

TALE OF THE TAPE

Schedules/Results

BOYLE COUNTY
Aug. 19 - vs. John Hardin (W) 41-6
Aug. 26 - Waggener (W) 54-19
Aug. 31 - at Danville (L) 7-10
Sept. 8 - Wayne County (W) 38-14
Sept. 15 - at Collins (W) 45-17
Sept. 22 - North Hardin (W) 56-10
Oct. 6 - at Garrard County (W) 48-7
Oct. 13 - Lexington Catholic (W) 48-17
Oct. 20 - Western Hills (W) 71-14
Oct. 27 - at Mercer County (W) 56-14
Nov. 3 - West Carter (W) 47-14
Nov. 10 - Western Hills (W) 62-14
Nov. 17 - Lexington Catholic (W) 57-15
Nov. 24 - at Elizabethtown (W) 14-7

CORBIN
Aug. 19 - at Whitley County (W) 14-0
Aug. 26 - Alcoa, TN (W) 22-21
Sept. 1 - Pulaski County (W) 36-7
Sept. 8 - at Beechwood (L) 29-36
Sept. 22 - vs. Mayfield (W) 20-17
Sept. 29 - McCreary Central (W) 63-0
Oct. 5 - Jackson County (W) 65-6
Oct. 13 - at Bell County (W) 42-8
Oct. 20 - Casey County (W) 35-6
Oct. 27 - Knox Central (W) 36-21
Nov. 3 - Knott County Central (W) 57-6
Nov. 10 - Bell County (W) 32-6
Nov. 17 - at Powell County (W) 50-14
Nov. 24 - at Central (W) 21-20

Statistics (Friday night's games not included)
Leading Rusher
Boyle County: Tanner Crawford - 1,811 yards; 25 touchdowns
Corbin: Chase Estepp - 563 yards; 8 touchdowns

Leading Passer
Boyle County: Reed Lanter - 2,209 yards; 22 touchdowns; 4 interceptions
Corbin: Cameron Sizemore - 2,512 yards; 28 touchdowns; 4 interceptions

Leading Receiver
Boyle County: Reese Smith - 896 yards; 10 touchdowns
Corbin: Christian Gosselin - 687 yards; 8 touchdowns

PREDICTION

Two of the top fifteen programs in the history of Kentucky high school football meet Friday night at Kroger Field in Lexington. Boyle County, winners of seven state titles, against Corbin, winners of three. Boyle, who spent much of the season looking up the rankings at Belfry and, yes, Corbin. Corbin, who spent two weeks at number one before falling to Beechwood. The Rebels, with their balanced offensive attack and dominating rush defense. Corbin, with their wide-open passing attack and consummate winner in quarterback Cameron Sizemore. Boyle, with Kentucky coaching legend Chuck Smith. Corbin, with young but already very successful coach Justin Haddix. Its "Who Ya With" vs. "The Hunt for Six." It ought to be a classic.

Boyle County 28 Corbin 14