There have been ample ups and downs, many of them attributable to relative youth and a taxing strength of schedule, but Friday looked like familiar, mighty Scott County football.
Offense: Eight touchdowns from eight different sources in eight possessions. Defense: Three takeaways and the second shutout of the season. Special teams: A blocked punt and no remarkable returns or field position freebies for Paul Laurence Dunbar.
It all added up to a 55-0 shellacking on a gorgeous night at Birds Nest Stadium, advancing Scott County (2-2) to the .500 mark with what promises to be an emotional left-right combination of Frederick Douglass and Great Crossing ahead.
“That feels the best. It’s like a breath of fresh air,” said senior Luke Colvin, who bookended the bash with an early fumble recovery and a 50-yard run after he was inserted at fullback in the fourth quarter. “Everybody was firing. You couldn’t ask for better.”
Andrew Hickey threw touchdown passes of 41 yards to senior Jeremy Hamilton and nine yards to fellow freshman Isaac York. He also started the scoring with a 2-yard quarterback sneak.
Montago Jones, Thomas Feickert, Campton Martin and Tristen Lloyd each carried one into the end zone for the Cardinals, who bounced back from a fourth-quarter stumble at Class 6A power Bryan Station a week ago.
“We couldn’t have scripted the first game (a 43-14 loss to Franklin County) any worse, and we had a terrible preseason, but we’ve gradually gotten better each game,” SC coach Jim McKee said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better, and we’ll be pretty good in November.”
Scott County held a pass-happy PLD offense averaging just below 30 points per game, including 69 in its lone victory against Breathitt County, to 202 total yards.
The Cardinals other win was a 41-0 road blanking of Lafayette.
“We went into practice, did a lot of hitting,” said Andrew Willhite, who provided his second interception of the season and matched Paul Garner for the team high with nine tackles. “We were just playing too soft, giving yards too much every time.”
Making his first appearance since spraining his ankle on the opening play from scrimmage against Franklin County, Martin returned the opening kickoff into Dunbar territory.
Jones rambled for 29 of his game-high 100 yards to set up the TD plunge by Hickey.
SC’s defense immediately matched that opening flourish when Isaac Krebs jarred the ball away from Cole Colony on a quarterback keeper. Colvin pounced at the Cardinals’ 47.
“Defense, all I’ve got to say is we love to work hard in practice, and it makes it look easy in the game,” said two-way star Jeremy Hamilton, who amassed 101 all-purpose yards and seven tackles. Coach Monty (McIntyre, defensive coordinator) is a great coach.”
Martin (25 yards) and Feickert (19) hit the holes to set the table for Jones’ 1-yard TD and a 13-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
“We just didn’t have to chug Jeremy so hard that he’s absolutely dead late in the game,” McKee said of Martin’s return.
Another of Martin’s specialties, a partially deflected punt, set up the next SC score.
Hamilton, Jones and Martin combined for four double-digit gains ahead of Feickert’s 5-yard score. Hamilton’s two-point rush made it a 21-0 margin to end the opening quarter.
It was by far the Cardinals’ most prolific first 12 minutes of the season.
“This is the second-youngest team we’ve ever started,” McKee said. “The only one younger was in 1999. We didn’t start anyone both ways tonight. We started 22 with 14 underclassmen.”
Willhite and Luke Valencia combined to stop Colony for a turnover on downs at the SC 15 early in the second period. The Cardinals’ longest drive of the night required only six plays from there, thanks largely to Martin’s catch for 39 yards and Hamilton’s run for 31.
Martin finished the job from four yards out.
Another turnover on downs in SC territory paved the way for Hickey and Hamilton to hasten a running clock on a 41-yard bomb with 3:21 remaining in the half.
Speaking of two-way contributors, McIntyre played a pivotal role in that knockout punch.
“Coach Monty noticed how their safety kept coming up,” Hamilton said. “So he said, ‘Jeremy, the seam’s wide open. Tell Coach McKee.’ So I told Coach McKee, and he said go with it. It was wide open. I was prepared.”
Jones delivered the PAT rush that effectively ended the game.
SC served up three more scores for good measure in the second half, starting with Willhite’s pick – the Cardinals’ fifth of the season – to stymie another Bulldog threat.
“It just changes the momentum for us and gives the offense some help to punch it down their throats and score,” Willhite said of the Cards’ recent propensity for forcing turnovers.
To cap the ensuing series, Hickey hit York with a perfect over-the-shoulder throw on the fade from nine yards out.
“Andrew’s way, way, way ahead of my oldest son Clay and Josh Davis as a ninth-grader. I don’t want to put expectations on him, but he’s light years ahead,” McKee said. "If he continues to build, he’s got an opportunity to take the quarterback position to heights that have never been seen at Scott County.”
Hickey completed six of his eight throws for 123 yards.
Colvin, who tips the scales at 229 pounds, turned on the jets, turned back the clock and channeled John Riggins from Super Bowl XVII with his late-game run to daylight.
“Back in the day, I was that rush it every down fullback,” Colvin said. “It felt good to get back out there. I hadn’t done it in so long. I’ve been working on it all week. I played a couple of plays at tight end tonight as well. That was so fun.”
Sophomore Justin Stevenson fell on another PLD fumble, leading to Lloyd’s closing touchdown.
SC’s next two opponents are undefeated. Later on, the Cards will travel to Ballard and Lexington Catholic, each with only one loss in five starts.
“We’re just over here quietly taking care of business and trying to get better,” McKee said. “We don’t have any breaks in our schedule really. We’ve just got to keep getting better, and we will.”
“The team we’ve got next week (Douglass, in Lexington) is strong,” Hamilton added. “They’re very talented, and they’re very good. We have to focus on blocking, and we’re going to have to do some passing.”