When the Kentucky Future Stars take the field in Clarksville, Tennessee June 17, 2017 at Fortera Stadium on the campus of APSU, at the helm will be LaKunta Farmer. LaKunta guided the 8th grade team from last year (Class of 2020) to a 44-27 defeat of the Tennessee Future Stars team which many recruiting analysts declared the most instate football talent the Sate of Tennessee has ever produced. Sure, Elijah Howard from Knoxville Webb wasn’t there but Preston Perdue (Lewis County), Bryn Tucker (Big Tuck, Knoxville Catholic), Don Johnson (Columbia), Darin Turner, Jr. (Memphis), Jackson Riley (Murfreesboro) and a cornucopia of other instate Tennessee, Class of 2020, stars were. If Kentucky was to win one of the two games, conventional wisdom dictated, they would have to win the Class of 2021 game (7th Grade) because Tennessee had too much to lose the 8th grade game. Apparently not so.
So what was the secret? How did the former High School Head Coach at Louisville Doss High School and Kentucky Xtreme Head Coach in the CIFL manage to vanquish the insurmountable obstacle which lay in front of him. Here’s a breadown of what Kentucky Prep Gridiron witnessed in last year’s game in Bowling Green:
- Farmer had Kentucky loose: By this, I mean Farmer’s boys had fun all week. They worked hard but limited the contact in practice and remembered to stop and smell the roses. In the game, Kentucky seemed less tight and fresher. That could be the result of being prohibitive underdogs too, which the Class of 2021, at least on paper, will not enjoy. It should be remembered that both of these teams are playing kids who have been in their respective High School strength & conditioning programs for weeks and have begun practice with their High School football teams. Some of the Tennessee kids have been through Spring Practice, which Kentucky doesn’t permit 8th graders to do. All of these kids have played a lot of football. They know how to tackle. Going full contact for every practice leading up to the game might wear them out and actually take away from the performance as opposed to enhance it. Farmer, last year had the formula, as the final score reflected.
- No one read the clippings. There was no way Kentucky was supposed to stay on the field with the Tennessee Class of 2020. The year previous, Tennessee (With Elijah Howard and William Long, who had made the Team Tennessee Future Stars that year as a 6th grader) had thrashed Kentucky in the 7th grade game 32-0. Well, someone forgot to tell Kentucky and Coach Farmer. The Davids from Kentucky played with confidence and assertively in the game from the coin toss forward and paid little attention to what was written about the Goliaths they were facing.
- Kentucky looked like a team which had played together much longer than 3 practices. I don’t know how Coach Farmer did this, but the Kentucky team looked like a travel squad whom had played many times together and Tennessee looked like what they were, a team who barely knew each other. It must have been one tremendous job Farmer did with his offensive/defensive install.
- Kentucky’s pieces were deployed on the chess board appropriately. One of the most important things a Coach does is know what he is seeing and getting kids in the position where they will play well. A good example of that was how Farmer deployed Jay Bland from Hopkinsville last year. Jay came into the game having played QB exclusively, but Farmer recognized that the 4.0 student could Quarter-back a defense too. Farmer deployed him at Safety, reading Tennessee’s Quarterbacks. Bland played a fantastic game shagging and knocking down deep balls intended for a Tennessee receiving corp headlined by Darin Turner, Jr., 6’3″ 188 pounds, who was the top national receiving prospect by many services then and now holds approximately 11 Division I offers as an outgoing freshman from Memphis East High School.
We aren’t maintaining these four reasons are the entire reason Kentucky won. We do maintain that these four things stuck in this reporter’s mind and made me leave Bowling Green with a very favorable impression of the man to whom Kentucky entrusted it’s fortunes. Bottom line…he did a great job!
Come out to see the game June 17, 2017 and remember ballers…PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!