3A Notebook: Larue, Jaggers Both Looking to Finish What they Started

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    by gchs_uk9 is online now Premium Member
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    Larue County Off to Best Start Since 2002

    One of the biggest surprises in Class 3A halfway through the season has been the resurgent Larue County Hawks. Having gone five consecutive seasons without a winning record, including a winless 2013, Larue has won five straight to open the 2017 campaign, the best start in Hodgenville since 2002. What might be even more surprising is they're doing it with a second time around coach many never expected to walk the Hawks sideline again.

    Josh Jaggers took the head coaching position at Larue County in 2012, replacing Rodney Armes who had spent nearly two decades at the helm. The Jaggers name is quite familiar in Kentucky. Joe Jaggers won 292 games in five championships over 33 seasons. Joe's son Marty won a crown of his own at Mercer County in 2006. Josh, Marty's son, played at Danville High School and Campbellsville University before moving into the coaching ranks. While many would assume the success would follow immediately, that proved not to be the case. After three seasons and eight wins Jaggers was told to resign or be let go.

    [Note: In an extensive interview with the 3A Notebook, Jaggers agreed to speak about his first stint at Larue, this season, and several other topics. Portions of that interview are quoted here.]

    "Everybody has things in their lives that they wish they would have handled differently, and I was no exception. Those last two years at Larue were rough, and it was one of those things where everybody knew they were going to be rough, but even still….there were some things that I could have probably handled a lot differently with the direction of the program.

    "At the same time there were many facets of the program that despite the wins and losses in those last two years...were going in the right direction. Our numbers in my last year were higher than they had been in the previous 7-8 years, in particular with our underclassmen and middle school, and our youth program was and still is in great shape thanks to the people behind the scenes leading it."

    When asked what prompted him to return to the job, Jaggers said:

    "It was just one of [those] doors that opened in life that you knew you had to walk through, but it wasn’t without some reservations originally. How many times do you ever hear of this happening where a coach gets fired from a program, only to have the chance to come back and coach that same program and a lot of the same kids that he was trying to build something with in the first place?

    "I had [looked at] a couple of head coaching job offers across the state, but after going through the interview process and really doing our homework, none of them just really felt worth packing up and moving our family for. With Hodgenville being so close to all of my family in Elizabethtown, plus being able to get just about anywhere in the state within an hour or two…nothing just ever felt right. Once this thing came open, deep down I just knew I had to take it."

    Asked what was the best part of coaching, Jaggers responded:

    "The relationships you build with the young men and your coaches. In the end that’s what you remember, that’s what you get from it. Being around this game and on the sidelines with dad/my grandfather since I was in elementary school…the relationships that I’ve built with men across the state that were in their coaching generations are invaluable."

    Jaggers mentioned former Breathitt County head coach Mike Holcomb, former Estill County head coach Hoover Neace, and current Breathitt County head coach Kyle Moore as some of his closest friends in the game.

    "Here of late as I’ve aged it’s gotten to be where if I don’t talk to Coach Holcomb once or twice a week then one of us is calling to check and see if something is wrong with the other! Hoover Neace, I met through Dad. Their Estill and Lincoln teams used to go to camp back in the day. [Neace] is one heck of a man himself, and also was a dang good ball coach all of his years. Kyle Moore and I played against each other while I was at Danville and he was at Breathitt; over the years we’ve stayed connected and become friends."

    And the worst:

    "I don’t know…..everything has its bad parts, but I think Gary Gaines [former head coach at Odessa Permian of Friday Night Lights fame] said it best when he said 'On the inside, there really isn’t much difference between winning and losing. There really isn’t. The only difference is in how the outside world treats you, but inside it all feels the same really.' Some might not want to hear that, but that’s the truth. During the season you have about a 24-hour window where you can be really excited over a win or really ticked off [over a loss] and after that it’s on to the next week's preparation and grind."

    When asked if he considered Elizabethtown the district favorite even with his Hawks undefeated:

    "Without question they are. People who haven’t seen them don’t really know how absolutely loaded they are. They have talent and game breaking speed everywhere. Those like us who are trying to get to their level have to absolutely play a perfect game in all phases. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. Talent wise, forget it. They are as talented [as] just about any 3A team in the state.

    "With us, I think a whole lot of it is just how physical can we be with them? One of my first objectives taking this job was to have an identity and when they hired me they got a former high school and college center who played in the wishbone and triple option. I can’t try to pretend to be anybody else. I am who I am. It’s not going to be pretty, flashy or any of that. You have to win the physicality aspect and then some to have a chance to compete with them."

    Finally, I asked if he felt going back to Larue was the right move:

    "I wondered if this was the right thing to do because of how it ended last time. But as my wife, parents, even my grandfather all told me when I was contemplating it, 'If you don’t put your pride aside, you’ll always wonder what if; what might have been.' Needless to say, I’m glad I listened to them and my heart. We needed to finish what we started."

    Second Time Coaches Still Having Success

    Two weeks ago we highlighted Dudley Hilton, who is in his third stint at Bell County. (3A Notebook: Hilton Back to Winning Ways on Log Mountain). Hilton's Bobcats lost for the first time on Friday, falling to Whitley County 28-6. Along with Hilton and Jaggers, three other coaches in Class 3A, Chuck Smith, Steve Stonebraker, and Jerry Perry, are serving a second tour of duty at their current schools and are winning just like the first time.

    Chuck Smith spent thirteen seasons at Boyle County from 1992-2004, compiling a 143-32 record and winning five state championships. After a successful run as linebackers coach at the University of Kentucky and one season as an assistant at Bardstown, Smith returned to Boyle in 2014 and has continued winning. This year's version of the Rebels might be his best since returning. Boyle routed Class 4A heavyweight Collins, 45-17, on Friday night and are now 4-1. A looming matchup with Lexington Catholic, who Boyle has not defeated since Smith returned, awaits on October 13.

    Steve Stonebraker wasn't at Casey County long the first time, guiding the Rebels in 1999 and 2000, but he took one of the least successful programs in Kentucky history and made them an instant winner, going 4-5 in 1999 then 6-5 in 2000, their first ever winning season and first appearance in the playoffs. Stonebraker left for Garrard County, then spent time as an assistant at Centre College and head coach at Woodford County and Jeffersontown before returning to Liberty in 2016. The magic was still there as Casey advanced to their first regional final before falling to Corbin. This year its been more of the same for the 4-0 Rebels. Quarterback Austin Campbell has thrown for 916 yards and eight touchdowns while running back Preston Tucker has compiled 538 yards and nine scores. Both had big nights Friday at Stonebraker returned to Jeffersontown and dished out a 36-0 beating to his former club.

    Finally, Jerry Perry is in his fourth season at Garrard County after having served previously as head coach from 1990-96. Already the winningest coach in school history before he returned, Perry is 89-34 in his career in Lancaster, and his Lions won a district championship in 2014. As always, the Lions pride themselves on the run game and this year's club has already rushed for 1,279 yards. Josh Warren is the bellwether back for Garrard (3-2) and he proved it Friday, rushing for 164 yards and a score in an 18-13 victory over East Jessamine.

    Around the Rankings

    #1 Belfry (3-1) scored two defensive touchdowns en route to a 49-7 romp over Pikeville. The Pirates rushed for 342 yards on the night.

    #4 Elizabethtown (3-1) breezed past Thomas Nelson 42-7. Donovan Huskey paced the Panthers with 172 yards rushing and three scores.

    #5 Central (3-2) lost to another highly ranked 6A team, this time falling to second-ranked St. Xavier, 42-7. Central has struggled offensively averaging only 12.6 points per game.

    #6 Caldwell County (4-1) scored the final 21 points of the game to secure a 42-28 win at Henderson County. Trel Riley returned a kickoff 94 yards for a score while Joby Jaggers threw four touchdowns.

    #7 Lexington Catholic's Jekyll-and-Hyde season turned positive on Friday with a 21-18 win at Highlands. Dameon Jones led the Knights (3-2) with 209 rushing yards and a touchdown in the win.

    #8 Western Hills (4-1) beat Frankfort 41-14, the third straight win in the rivalry for the Wolverines.

    #9 Fleming County (3-1) lost for the first time this season, falling to Montgomery County, 61-28.

    Extra Points

    Bath County trailed Estill County (1-3) on the road by 18 points midway through the fourth quarter but rallied to win 32-30. Cameron Corbin, Austin Reed, and Thomas Oldfield each had touchdown catches for the Wildcats (3-1).

    Fort Campbell (2-3) continued their dominance over Fort Knox in the Army Bowl, this time winning 34-0. Fort Campbell has won fifteen straight in the series.

    McCreary Central (2-2) secured a monster win for their program, beating Paul Dunbar 22-21 on Saturday night. The Raiders scored with 35 seconds on the game clock to top the Bulldogs.

    Three to See
    (Each week the 3A Notebook will preview the three best games featuring Class 3A teams for the coming week)

    1. Corbin vs. Mayfield at Austin Peay State University. Corbin had a week to recover from their loss to Beechwood while 5-0 Mayfield has just kept on winning. These two played a classic at Lindsey Wilson College last season, with Mayfield winning 35-34.

    2. DeSales at Lexington Catholic. It's another Catholic battle for the Knights, who fell to Covington Catholic early in the season, this time hosting 2A power DeSales. This marks the first battle between these two programs.

    3. Paducah Tilghman at Caldwell County. Tilghman will try to get back on the winning track after losing three straight while Caldwell looks to ride their four game winning streak for another week. Caldwell has beat the Tornado in each of the last two seasons.

    Just One More
    (Tired of the same teams every week? Want to go off the beaten path for a 3A game this Friday night? Each week we'll look at an under-the-radar matchup to watch in Class 3A)

    Russell at West Carter. Labeled in the preseason as district favorites and given a top ten ranking, Russell struggled before winning for the first time last week over Boyd County. West Carter likely needs this win in order to host a playoff game.
    Last edited by gchs_uk9; Sep 18, 17 at 12:33 AM.

  2. #2
    ATLCat's Avatar
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    Love the interview with Jaggers... he was very candid in his comments. Hard not to pull for him. He has breathed new life into that program in a hurry!

    FYI, KHSAA scoreboard is wrong for the Belfry game.. Final Score was 56-13.

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    gchs_uk9's Avatar
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    ttt

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    Watusi's Avatar
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    I am really happy for Josh Jaggers and the Hawks. They are trending up and it is good to see.

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    Walk The Plank's Avatar
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    Speaking of Lexington Catholic, were they and Boyle County both 5-A I think about three years ago and and both dropped TWO classes to 3-A the same year? I don't recall a mass exodus in Lexington and Boyle County that would have caused two larger schools to drop two classes! Hope I have the schools and classes right! Looks like it would take a huge event to drop or climb two classes! Anyone know what the KHSAA had to do with this and how it came about? I don't know about everybody else but it sorta gets my attention when something like this happens!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walk The Plank View Post
    Speaking of Lexington Catholic, were they and Boyle County both 5-A I think about three years ago and and both dropped TWO classes to 3-A the same year? I don't recall a mass exodus in Lexington and Boyle County that would have caused two larger schools to drop two classes! Hope I have the schools and classes right! Looks like it would take a huge event to drop or climb two classes! Anyone know what the KHSAA had to do with this and how it came about? I don't know about everybody else but it sorta gets my attention when something like this happens!
    They've never been 5A in the current 6 class system. 4A until two years ago.

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    gchs_uk9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walk The Plank View Post
    Speaking of Lexington Catholic, were they and Boyle County both 5-A I think about three years ago and and both dropped TWO classes to 3-A the same year? I don't recall a mass exodus in Lexington and Boyle County that would have caused two larger schools to drop two classes! Hope I have the schools and classes right! Looks like it would take a huge event to drop or climb two classes! Anyone know what the KHSAA had to do with this and how it came about? I don't know about everybody else but it sorta gets my attention when something like this happens!
    Both were 4A, never 5A. The numbers used for enrollment was 2011-14. I'm not stating this as fact, but that was right after the economic collapse in 2008. I'd imagine Lexington Catholic, a private school that used to be small then grew exponentially, suffered an enrollment setback due to people not being able to afford tuition. I'm not saying that's the only reason and I'm not saying some didn't keep paying, but I'm sure there were some in Lexington that decided the public school was a more affordable option for their kids. In the next alignment it would appear that Catholic will move back up.

    As for why Boyle dropped, I have no idea, except that perhaps the previous classes were larger than normal for Boyle. I suspect, based on the numbers, that Boyle remains in 3A during the next cycle.

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    Colonels_Wear_Blue's Avatar
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    Great piece @gchs_uk9 ! I've really enjoyed following what's going on with Coach Jaggers and LaRue this season...glad to get a little more insight!

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    Large was poised for a good year and I fully expect them to go 9-1. Almost assuredly will host a playoff game and get their first playoff victory in a while.

    Larue is a proud program, one that can be regional contender many years.

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    Thanks for correcting me. I had 5-A on my mind for some reason. Anyhow, they both strengthened 3-A! Thanks again for the info!

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    Thanks for the update Hatz. I got the schools right but the wrong class!

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