Paducah Sun sports writer Dusty Luthy's story captured the Rockets' state semifinal spirit better than any other written. Here are some excerpts from her story that was published Saturday and posted online at Paducah Sun Online, which requires a subscription.
Luthy also writes a blog, which is available to the public. She has a post about the game, too. Click here.
- Even with the scoreboard showing a 34-0 Beechwood victory over Crittenden County in Friday night's Class A state semifinal game, Tigers coach Noel Rash said the win was anything but easy. “I think they’ve got some explosive players,” Rash said about the Rockets, “and the biggest thing I was concerned about was their passion and their excitement for this. I was so overwhelmed by their take on this. You just look at them now and how emotionally drained they are and, God love ’em, they’re an impressive football team."
- On Crittenden's passion to play hard, coach Starnes told Luthy: “That’s what they’ve done all year,” Starnes said. “That’s what’s got us here. Because you look at us, we’re not big. We didn’t look like the prototype power football team, but the kids just played hard, and they played with a lot of heart, and that’s what we were hoping to do.”
- With Beechwood on to play Hazard next weekend for a possible 10th state title, Rockets’ senior running back Rodney Robertson said Beechwood was the best team they had faced all season, even compared to the likes of Lone Oak and Calloway County.
- Said Robertson: Our linemen, we probably don’t average 180 pounds across the line,” Robertson said. “Our biggest lineman is probably 225. It’s just hard to match up with kids that are 6-3, 6-4, 250, 260.”
- On injured Rocket quarterback J.D. Gray, senior Gaige Courtney said this: “Not only is he a great player, he’s our friend,” Courtney said. “We all love him, and the last game for me, it’s hard for me to see him go out like that.”
- Said the Beechwood coach: It’s obvious they’re a well-coached football team,” Rash said. “Coach Starnes and his staff do a great job of moving what we call the chess pieces around and making you defend different parts of the field and then making your offense think about what you’re going to do to defeat them.”
- With the Rockets losing three from this team, the question is whether they can come this far again next year. Rash gave an emphatic yes. Starnes wants to wait and see.“I don’t know if we can get a group of guys that can play with as much heart as these kids did,” Starnes said. “This is my 18th season here, and it didn’t just happen overnight.”