The revenge tour is over.
It was nothing personal against Ryle, Grant County, Montgomery County, Ballard or MoCo again in Friday night’s Class 5A District 6 football semifinals. All of them were simply in Scott County’s way between its last humbling confrontation with Frederick Douglass and the rematch the Cards have craved ever since.
SC tuned up for the final time with a 43-8 rout in subfreezing conditions at Birds’ Nest Stadium and proclaimed itself ready for what’s next.
“We’re right back where we want to be,” senior quarterback Cade McKee said. “Here lately we’ve been having more good days than bad days. Everyone has their head straight, and that’s exactly what we want. We’ve got seven days, and we’ll be back up there.”
Two amazing streaks continued with the victory: Scott County has won at least 10 games and its opening-round playoff game for 12 consecutive autumns.
No. 2 Frederick Douglass (11-0) will host No. 3 Scott County (10-1) at 7:30 next Friday in what is a de facto state semifinal. The winner will emerge as a leading candidate to reach the title game at Kroger Field next month.
Other than the come-from-behind, overtime win over Class 6A Ballard, nobody’s been in SC area code for the past month.
With the exception of a MoCo touchdown drive that gobbled up most of the third quarter after the game went to a continuous clock, the playoff rematch looked no different than a 55-0 thrashing here Oct. 18.
Five different Cardinals scored a touchdown. Bronson Brown was the only repeat offender. He led Scott County with six carries for 105 yards and the two scores.
Bryson Gibson, Philip Garner and Jaxon Saylor all rushed for touchdowns.
Micah McClave’s leaping catch from McKee just before the half, coupled with Brown’s two-point conversion rush, pushed it to 36-0 and made the rest of the evening a quick, painless affair.
“Offense executed great, defense got out of there, and we did what we needed to do,” Gibson said.
It started in dubious fashion. The Cardinals mishandled Montgomery County’s squib kick, and the Indians’ Jaden Akers fell on it at the SC 45.
Josh Wheaton’s four consecutive carries moved the ball to the 27. Silas Emongo dropped Gabe Miller for no gain on third-and-3, however, and the trio of A.J. Young, John Hulette and Colton Combs kept Devin Johnson a yard shy of the stick on fourth down.
SC went to work immediately with double-digit gains by Garner, Mikaleb Coffey and Brown in succession. McKee’s quarterback sneak moved the stack 13 yards to the 3, and Garner’s second-effort surge finished the opening drive from there at 6:44.
With the triple-digit performance, Brown eclipsed 1,000 yards for the second straight year, joining senior classmate Garner in that category this season.
“Philip has to be able to run the ball between the tackles, and Bronson has to be able to run the ball on the edges,” SC coach Jim McKee said. “If we can’t do either one of those (next week), then we’re not going to able to move the ball.”
Combs delivered a sack and another tackle for loss along with Hulette on MoCo’s ensuing three-and-out. Three plays after the change of possession, Brown swept right, cut left and turned on the jets for a 51-yard TD to make it 14-0 at the end of one quarter.
Trey Ishmael’s 31-yard keeper just before the end of that period gave the Indians their second foray into the Cards’ red zone.
On fourth-and-5 from the 13, Ishmael threw a jump pass that Campton Martin read perfectly for his team-leading fifth interception. Martin nearly went end-to-end before Adam McCune stopped the runback at 71 yards.
“I was dropping back. I was really trying to hawk him, because I had a feeling he was going to throw to the tight end,” Martin said. “There it was in the air, and I went after it and caught it. As I was running down the field, I just saw a lane, and I took it.”
That set up Brown’s second touchdown of the night, a 12-yard walk-in to the right front pylon.
Feeding the Cards a steady diet of Wheaton and Johnson, the Indians kept the ball for 11 plays and 45 yards before running into Austin Taylor, again one yard short of the marker on fourth down at the SC 30.
Brown ran to midfield before McKee’s timing pattern found Coffey down the home sideline to the MoCo 22.
The Indians knocked down McKee’s throw in the back of the end zone, but Saylor slashed through a wide vacuum on the left side on the next play for six points on his first carry of the evening.
Montgomery County’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 39 ended in an incomplete pass and hastened the mercy clock.
McClave wouldn’t be denied after the throw in his direction was knocked down on the previous drive. He extended himself above the defender and cradled the ball on his descent.
“I feel like we’re a program where everything we do is built for November,” said Cade McKee, who has thrown a TD on 11 of his 26 completions this season. “We’re here, so it’s time for us to really lock it in and become the best team that we can be. I really feel confident about where we are at.”
Wheaton’s 1-yard plunge capped a 17-play, 67-yard MoCo scoring drive in the third period. The Indians converted a fourth down and three third downs on the series, with only three gains longer than five yards.
Gibson (six carries, 71 yards) banged across from three yards out with 10:08 remaining.
“It was a great feeling,” said Gibson, one of 30 seniors. “With all the practice we’ve done, it’s great to come out here and get that reward.”
Hulette’s 15 tackles led the Scott County defense, which has allowed no more than a single touchdown in half the Cards’ wins, including two shutouts.
In the previous meeting with Douglass, the Cards were one of the Broncos’ nine shutout victims to date, 36-0.
“Any time you lose badly, the tendency is to come up with excuses why you did,” Jim McKee said. “They just played a lot better, coached a lot better and played a lot harder than we did. They’ve got five Division I guys. They’re really good. We’ve eaten our humble pie, and we’ll continue to eat it, and hopefully we’ll play better.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.