Paul Bear Bryant once said, It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters. Well said. The match-up which will unfold this Friday night in Hopkinsville, Kentucky at the Stadium of Champions is against two teams who appear headed in very different directions. The Colonels veteran and talented squad has, thus far, appeared to play either up or down to its competition, allowing teams such as Rossview (Clarksville, TN) and Henderson County to hang around and beating a good football team in Caldwell County 27-10 in a game which was closer than the final margin would indicate. HHS may have the best Junior Varsity team in Kentucky. The problem is the JV is all playing Varsity football and have dropped its first three contests to Classification powers, South Warren, Mayfield, and Caldwell County…yeah, that Caldwell County. Taking into account Christian County (3-0), Hopkinsville’s opponents are a combined 11-1 so far this young season. Taking HHS into account the Colonels’ opponents are a combined 4-8.
Sharon Katz wrote a piece in November of 2015 for ESPN Analytics entitled Then and now: Myth-busting Rivalry Week’s old “throw the records out” saying in which she took an in-depth look into an old cliché. The oft quoted saying appears to revolve around the premise that with high emotions, bragging rights at stake, teams and players who are familiar with one another, maybe a chance for one team to salvage its season, then anything can happen. Katz goes on to cite a recent example of that when an underdog, Texas team overcame a 16 point spread to best Oklahoma after the Longhorns had suffered its worst loss in more than a decade the week prior to TCU 52-7. Katz also reminds her reader of the Auburn team who dashed Alabama’s national title hopes as a double-digit dog in the famous (or infamous depending on perspective) Kick Six game.
Maybe the belief that combatants who know each other well and are very familiar gives the underdog a chance where it wouldn’t ordinarily exist comes from thinking much more ancient than Sharon Katz. Sun Tzu once wrote in The Art of War that [i]f you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
So do we throw out the records in this one? I don’t know. Right now Bowling Green High School, the defending State Champions in 5A, five of the last six years, is 1-2. Does that mean the Purples aren’t any good? I know a lot of Colonels who hope that is what that means as BGHS looms as a possible Regional Final opponent well down the road.
Critics of the Colonels have said they are 3-0 but haven’t look really good doing it. To those critics I say, there isn’t room on a season won-loss ledger for pictures, just numbers. As long as marks continue to be added to the left column, you’re okay, or so the thinking goes. Undefeated is undefeated. Teams will eventually find quality competition as the season progresses into the playoffs. Likewise, and unfortunately because I am a Tiger fan, 0-3 is 0-3, just like 1-2 is 1-2 Bowling Green, regardless of whom you elected to schedule.
The Tigers are getting better, still making way too many mistakes and committing way too many penalties, but inching ever so closely to putting it together and showing glimpses that it can become a formidable team if it continues to improve. To the Tigers I, once again, recommend another Sun Tzu maxim from The Art of War, which goes as follows: [One] wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistake is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.
All cryptic, ancient warfare maxims aside, however analogous to football, these boys grew up together, have played little league and Bud Hudson Football together, go to church and visit the barber shop together. The Trophy awarded the winner is called the Bragging Rights Trophy and it is aptly named. This game has no playoff implications for either team, but it is the game both players and staff would most like to win. Friday night, it won’t be an 0-3 team facing a 3-0 one, it’ll be Hoptown/County. Folks around here know exactly what that means. Let the warfare commence!
Reporting for Kentucky Prep Gridiron this is Fletcher Long reminding you of something which Sun Tzu probably once related better than I am able…PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE! With apologies and because I simply can’t help myself…Go Tigers!