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Layin' the Foundation

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Seniors become foundation for Cougars to build

By Chris Cannon

ccannon@lafollettepress.com

 

A strong foundation is key for every house.

For a powerhouse, it takes the foundation built by this year’s seniors.

Following an emotional 33-8 loss to District 3-AAA champions Oak Ridge, head coach Justin Price told his team that these seniors are the foundation for something special.

“I wish these seniors could see the results that are coming for this program,” Price said. “They’ll always be, for me, a special group. Last year, we had the seniors, but we only had them for about two or three months. These guys, we’ve been with them 18 (months), and they’ve always done what we asked. I’m just really proud of those guys.”

Although the season record stood at 3-7, it could have been a totally different season as the Cougars fought with some of the toughest teams in District 3-AAA.

Throughout the season, Campbell County was about 10 plays from being an 9-1 team overall.

With the progress they’ve made, senior Slaton Allen knows they are the foundation for this growing program.

“That’s definitely something that I believe in,” Allen said. “We’re always working on something better. This season, we didn’t quite get to where we wanted to be, but we definitely made something better out of this program that this community really likes. Hopefully by next year, everything is good to go.”

Last season, Powell held a 55-0 advantage over Campbell County at the half. This year, the Cougars only lost to the District 3-AAA runner-up by a blocked field goal returned for a score in the final minutes.

Oak Ridge held a 35-point advantage over Campbell County last year. This season, the Cougar defense only gave up two touchdowns in the 33-8 loss.

“I see big things for this program,” senior Ethan Miller said. “Look at the past 18 months. Like coach said, the improvement is unbelievable. We know we showed that throughout this season. District champs tonight, and we had them on their heels.”

For Bo Farris, this year’s improvements are going to be seen for years to come.

“Playoff team every year,” he said. “Every year. No doubt in my mind.”

This season, the Cougars managed 3,116 yards of total offense compared to 2,173 in 2011.

The 200 points Campbell County scored this season off 30 touchdowns ranks as their second highest point total in school history behind the 287 points scored in 2008.

“We came here 18 months ago, and we had a plan for it,” Price said. “We knew that we could get this program to be one of the elite teams in the district. We’ve shown at times this year that we’re not too far off.

“As long as we keep gradually progressing, our program is moving in the right direction,” he continued. “I’m very confident. We’re going to get there. We’ve got a good group of guys back next year, but we lose a good group. They (the seniors) set the standard of how you have to approach every single day”

Oak Ridge struck first on Friday night with a six-play, 58-yard drive led by Matt Moore’s 44-yard run. The Cougar defense stood strong, forcing fourth-and-goal on the 1-yard line. Rian Hall found his way up the middle for the score and a 7-0 advantage with 8:01 left in the first quarter.

The Wildcats first drive in the second half saw another score. In four plays, Oak Ridge went 58 yards. Hall’s 28-yard run capped the drive with 10:11 left. Brett Beeler’s extra point sailed wide right, leaving the score 13-0.

For the Cougars, it only took two plays. Ethan Jeffers connected with Trey Torres for a 79-yard touchdown pass. Isaac Phillips led the way for Torres. Farris connected with Brandon Long for the two-point conversion and a 13-8 score with 9:11 left.

Moore returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for the Wildcat score. Brandon Nickel’s extra point sailed wide right, as Oak Ridge led 19-8.

Christopher Ramsey grabbed the pick-six from 24-yards out. Beeler’s extra point sailed true, as the Wildcats lead 26-8 with 8:01 left in the fourth.

With 57 seconds left in the game, Oak Ridge capped off a five-play, 39-yard drive as Hall went the last 3 yards for the final margin of 33-8.

“There’s nothing like this senior football team,” Jordan Kindred said. “There’s nothing like it. We’re all one, and we’ve played together forever. We’re just so great together. I’m proud of our defense, and I’m proud of our team. It’s just amazing what we can do.”

However, Farris summed it up for everybody.

“I’m just glad to be a part of this program.”