Well, football season is around the corner and here before you may realize. We, at KPGFootball, couldn’t be more excited about what we expect to see out of the Rebels from Todd County Central under first year head coach, Darell Keith. If anyone was hoping our excitement would be, in any way, dampened by the Rebels’ performance in its two recent 7 on 7 tournaments, then that observer didn’t see what we saw. What we saw out of the Rebels was exciting because it foreshadows the fact that Todd County, coming off a 6-5 season, will be even more versatile and hard to defend then they were at any time last season. As for defense, it’s Darell Keith. A Keith coached team will always defend and hit like a sack of bar soaps in a prison uprising.
From what we were able to observe and what others we have consulted have related to KPGFootball, Bryce Nolan is doing a fine job converting from a WR/DB to quarterback. We know Bryce is smart (4.2 GPA) and we know the 5-10, 170 pound athlete is fast (4.7 second, 40 yard dash). Over three days of tournament competition, Bryce has completed 13 TD passes, and has demonstrated the ability to throw a football 50 yards in the air, flat-footed. Nolan is still learning to read the field, but his decision making is improving as are his progression reads. Based on what we have seen, thus far, it may not be fair to say Nolan has arrived but he looks to be coming, and coming fast.
His favorite target may end up being DJ Johnson, who is a basketball player who has come out for football, this year, for the first time since he was 12 years old. DJ is a Class of 2020 prospect who is a 4.7 second, 40 yard dash guy and very athletic. Johnson caught 17 TD passes during the 7 on 7 tournament play. Being able to stretch the field with the threat of a down-field passing game is important for a team which only threw, the entire 2017 season, for 83 yards and not a single TD pass completed. If the Rebels can add something to the 2,260 rushing yards from last year, through the air, it is going to make them really tough to defend.
Now Todd County Central, in 2017 and at 6-5 on the year, and finished the season the 18th winningest team in Kentucky’s 2A Classification. We here at KPGFootball are AP contributors to both the All-State football teams and the preseason and in-season weekly top 10 polls. I have already submitted my preseason poll early to the AP. I am happy to tell you I have Todd County Central ranked 10th in my preseason poll. Why? First of all, I am an expert in Kentucky high school football and study it as much, or more, than any journalist who covers it in Kentucky (even if I do say so myself). Secondly, I believe in Coach Keith, and the program he is building; and, furthermore, so should you…the Todd County Central community.
Buy into this program! The only way Todd County Central doesn’t round into a powerhouse in the 2A classification is if either Keith leaves or you don’t support his efforts. If you will buy in as a community, you will stop losing players to Logan County. Yeah, Logan was 11-1 last year, but, in 2016, they were 1-9; in 2015, they were 0-10; in 2014, they were 0-10; in 2013 (5A), they were 0-10; and, in 2012, they were 2-9. You get the picture. So, what did Logan County do to turn around its program as dramatically and decisively as they did? Two things…they hired their own Darell Keith, a former middle school head coach named Todd Adler, in 2016, and the Logan County community fully supported him. In two years at the helm, Adler, inheriting a program much more maligned and worse off than Todd County Central, has tallied a 12-11, two year mark. Adler and his Logan County Cougars are entering 2018 with enough talent to garner 4A preseason poll votes from every voter in the AP. Incidentally, I have Logan, preseason, 5th in Kentucky’s Class 4A.
Coach Keith, who not only used to whip my butt when we were both middle school coaches, but who routinely whipped Adler too, and most of the time on a running clock, has always told me one wins from the ground up. You have to teach the kids to win at every level. Your middle school program needs to win, kids need to pick the litter up from off the ground around the campus, your field turf and facilities need to be pristine. Basically, winning breeds more winning. Unfortunately, so does losing and complacency. Where one sees no institutional pride and an atmosphere devoid of interest or caring; one will encounter losers who will dole out a steady dose of losing to all who come to dine at that table. That environment indoctrinates your kids with an attitude it is difficult to reverse.
These attitudes, winning and losing, spill over from the gymnasiums and athletic fields into the classroom, as test scores rise and fall as the student body’s morale ebbs and flows with their school’s every success and/or failure. Think about this for a moment; if successful athletic teams aren’t vitally important to the school both academically and athletically, then why do the most successful and prestigious private schools around like Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA), McCallie, Louisville Trinity, and Louisville Saint Xavier spend, whatever it takes, to perpetrate the perception of the school’s invincibility and, especially, the invincibility of its athletic teams? From tidily-winks to football, prestigious private schools try to win at any and everything at which it is possible to compete. That expectation, that attitude, spills over into the classroom. The prestigious schools beat their rivals on the athletic fields and also outperform them academically, with higher standardized test scores, and greater numbers of students admitted to top-flight colleges. The two arenas, athletic and academic, are very related. Schools like Louisville Trinity know it and pray it never dawns on the rest of us.
I know we went on a little long today but I felt compelled to write this week about what is really at stake at Todd County Central and why it is so important it is fostered and supported by the community. Like in Field of Dreams, if you build it…they will come…just ask Todd Adler and the Logan County Cougars!
Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of you ballers out there to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.
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