After the Cougars crushing, 52-0 defeat at Shelbyville Friday evening against the Shelby County Rockets, it has become painfully clear that this football season will be one of small victories for the rebuilding Cougar team.
Every positive statement the team makes this season will be counted as a small victory. Every run that gains positive yardage will be a victory. Every first down gained will be a victory. Every pass completed will be a victory. Every sack and tackle for a loss, and the Cougars had several against the Rockets, will be a victory.
Trailing 38-0 at the half, head coach Ed Smart replaced junior quarterback Dayton Blair with freshman Noah Bullock, a move that can be seen as a look to the future of the team. It remains to be seen whether that change is permanent, but just the fact he was willing to make such a move against a superior opponent says that the future is more important to him than any immediate success the team may have.
It is likely, with teams like Bowling Green and Greenwood, a team much improved under former Grayson County assistant Chris Seabolt, on the schedule that there will be other lopsided losses like this one up ahead.
But there are also winnable games on the remaining schedule and every one of them will need to be cherished by the team and their fans and remembered in the future.
The Rockets grabbed the lead on their first possession, taking four plays to cover 49 yards, with Michael Petty covering the final 20 yards for the score. Junior kicker Josh Edwards added the extra point to make it 7-0 1t the 10:36 mark.
Grayson County picked up its first first down of the game on its first possession, but eventually had to punt the ball away. The Rockets then moved 65 yards in six plays to make it 14-0. Jose Canas raced 43 yards for the score at the 4:05 mark.
On a fourth-and-inches play at their own 30-yard line, the Cougars gained another first down on a 10-yard carry by Jordan Stallings. The Cougars broke into Rocket territory at the 45 with another first-down run by Gage Watson, but the drive stalled and the Rockets took over on down at their own 45.
From there it took just three plays for the Rockets to score again. Malik Manica carried in from 35 yards out and at the 10:11 mark of the second quarter, Shelby led 21-0.
Edwards, who is drawing interest from Division 1 schools as a place-kicker, added a 39-yard field goal at the 6:38 mark following a stalled, 53-yard drive to make it 24-0.
Punting from their own 20-yard line, the Cougars gave up another touchdown when a bad snap was recovered in the end zone by Petty to put the Rockets in front 31-0.
The Cougars fumbled the ball away on their next possession at their own 20, and one play later quarterback Tyler Drane carried in for another score, making it 38-0 at the half.
With the clock running continuously by the mercy rule in the second half, the Rockets added two more touchdowns. KeShawn Catlett returned an interception 45 yards for one score and Kyion Stone ran in from 31 yards out with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter to make it 52-0.
The Cougars (1-1) will host Edmonson County (1-1) this Friday evening for the annual battle for the Tobacco Stick. That contest is set to start at 7 p.m.
Reach Don Brown at 270-259-9622, ext 2016.