Friday, November 10, 2023

Despite loss, Rockets find place for their hat

OWENSBORO, Ky. – Four times in the past 21 football seasons, Crittenden County’s playoff hopes have died in Owensboro.

The Rockets have been outmatched and humbled by a running clock each November when it has faced Owensboro Catholic on the road at the end. Friday was more of the same as Crittenden County lost 49-7. The mercy clock was running full steam with just under seven minutes to go in the first half.

Never have the Rockets been able to put a up significant fight against the Aces. Historically, in four playoffs matchups against O’Cath, the Rockets have been outscored 209-14.

For third-year CCHS football coach Gaige Courtney, the loss had little meaning compared to the voyage.

“The game didn’t go the way we wanted it to, obviously,” the coach said. “That’s not what it’s about at this point. It’s about what this team did this year, how they competed and did a lot of things people said they couldn’t do. It’s about the seniors stepping up to the challenge and leading. It’s about all the things they learned through the journey of football.”

For his part, Courtney expressed tremendous esteem for his crew. His pride overshadowed what Owensboro had once again done to a Rocket football team.

“I am just proud of them. I hurt for them always because I know how it hurts,” Courtney added. “I am extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished this season.”

Playing up in Class 2A this fall after considerable success in Class A over the past decade, the Rockets held their own against a brutal schedule and finished as a First Region semifinalist in the postseason.

In this season’s final game, the Rockets had few bright spots. Sophomore Jacob Carder covering an onside kick to start the game and junior Cameron Belcher’s first-quarter interception defending in his own end zone had given Crittenden a sense of belonging. Thanks to those highlights, the Rockets trailed only 7-0 after one quarter against a team rated No. 1 in the state’s 2A power rankings.

Their bubble burst in the second quarter when the Aces returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns and Catholic quarterback Brady Atwell settled in to complete three of his five scoring passes.

The scoreboard was all too familiar when CCHS has been the unfortunate guests of the Aces. From 2012 through 2014 when the Rockets played up in 2A once before, O’Cath left a blister on their pride. Each of those meetings was met with a similar result to this year’s encounter. 

Still, there was cause to celebrate. The coach reminded us of some those reasons and senior quarterback Micah Newcom provided others. He completed 15-of-28 passes and eclipsed 2,000 yards for the season. He’s just the second Rocket QB to throw for more than two grand in two different years. 

“It’s been a joy,” Newcom said. “The experiences, memories, practice, locker room, games, all of it. We had great times together, great wins, tough losses. It’s all been worth it in the end. I’m proud of everybody and thankful for the opportunity.”

Crittenden County finished 7-5 and won its first 2A playoff game a week earlier against Todd County Central. In 2A this go round, Crittenden won more than twice as many games than it ever had before in that division.

Two of its five losses this fall came at the hands of Owensboro Catholic – a team led by a quarterback who’s making an official recruiting visit to Division I Marshall University this weekend – and a team the Rockets have never beaten in 11 tries dating back to the 1960s.

Going to Owensboro for the playoffs has become akin to waiting on the electric chair. Yet, despite the sting from another death row shellacking, the Rockets had little trouble finding a place to hang their hats.

Crittenden County 0 0 7 0
Owensboro Catholic 7 36 6 0

OC-Noah Rhinerson 16 pass from Brady Atwell (Andrew Garvin kick) 6:39, 1st
OC-Rhinerson 44 pass from Atwell (kick failed) 11:30, 2nd
OC-Carson Lewis 40 interception return (Tutt Carrico pass from Atwell) 11:21, 2nd
OC-Elijah Blair 6 pass from Atwell ( Garvin kick) 7:41, 2nd
OC-Barrett Evans 35 fumble return (Carrico run) 6:45, 2nd
OC-Carrico 45 pass from Atwell (Garvin kick) 2;15, 2nd
OC-Waryn Ebelhar 12 pass from Atwell (conversion failed) 5:33, 3rd
CC-Casey Cates 7 pass from Micah Newcom (Tyree McLean kick) :15, 3rd

First Downs: CCHS 5, OCHS 11
Penalties: CCHS 3-11, OCHS 11-15
Rushing: 14-28, OCHS 17-77
Passing: 15-28-1. 97; OCHS 15-23-1, 231
Total Yards: CCHS 125, OCHS 308
Fumbles/Lost: 2-1, OCHS 0-0

CCHS: Gattin Travis 8-48, Tyler Belt 2-5, Newcom 4-(-25). OCHS: Miles Edge 2-13, Blair 3-14, Rhinerson 1-7, Vince Carrico 2-8, Tutt Carrico 2-9, Cameron Woodward 1-7, Kail Kabalen 3-9, Shaiden Mitchell 3-10.
CCHS: Newcom 15-28-1, 97. OCHS: Atwell 14-18-1, 208; Dremail Carothers 1-5-0, 23.
CCHS: Caden Howard 3-25, Belt 4-24, Gabe Keller 3-27, Camron Belcher 2-14, Travis 1-1, Cates 1-7, Jason Millikan 1-(-1). OCHS: Mitchell Sims 1-33, Rhinerson 5-88, T.Carrico 4-42, Ebelhar 2-30, V.Carrico 1-9, Blair 1-6, Riley Harvill 1-23.
Gabe Keller 7 solos, assists; Gattin Travis 6 solos; Bennett McDaniel solo, 2 assists; Lane West solo, blocked kick; Casey Cates assist; Travis Blazina 2 assists; Tyler Belt 2 solos, 3 assists; Jason Millikan solo; Grayson James 3 solos, 2 TFLs; Kaiden Travis solo, 2 assists; Camron Belcher 3 solos, interception; Caden Howard 2 solos; Brayden Poindexter 6 solos, assist; Tyree McLean blocked kick.
Records: Crittenden 7-5, Owensboro Catholic 12-0