By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
Pulaski County head football coach Johnny Hines made no bones about it earlier in the week when he called his team’s game each year against Southwestern as the Maroons ‘Super Bowl’.
Last night at ‘The Reservation’, Hines and the visiting Maroons won their ‘Super Bowl’ matchup against Southwestern, with a 28-14 over the arch-rival Warriors.
And with the win over Southwestern, the PC coach and players did indeed get to hoist the Superintendent’s Trophy high above their collective heads as they headed off the field.
And one more thing — after refusing to comment last week after his team’s impressive win over South Laurel — Hines finally could talk about a subject he had refused to speak on until after the Southwestern game.
How does it feel to be the district champion once again coach?
“It feels great to be district champs and I’m really proud of our team,” stated a very jubilant PC coach, after his team finished the district portion of its schedule with a perfect 5-0 mark.
“This marks the third time in the past four years that we’ve won the district, and it feels awfully good,” continued Hines. “This is a tough district — it really is. Every team in this district is pretty good. To win it is one thing, and that’s a great accomplishment for our team. But, to win it by going undefeated is a whole other deal.”
Pulaski County, thanks to a 34-9 win last week over South Laurel, had already wrapped up its district crown, but Hines wanted no part of that conversation until his club could avenge last season’s 49-25 loss to Southwestern last night, and finish off district play with that 5-0 mark.
And, the Maroons wasted little time in giving the PC coach what he wanted.
Pulaski County took the opening drive of the game, and on the fourth play from scrimmage — on a fourth down and six play — quarterback Riley Hall hooked up with another freshman — Mason Helton — for a 42-yard scoring toss giving the Maroons a very quick, 7-0 lead with 9:50 remaining in the opening stanza.
The score remained that way until late in the first half, when the Warriors appeared to be headed for a score of their own.
However, running back Logan Campisano fumbled the ball on a fourth down run where he had gotten the first down for the Warriors deep inside PC territory.
Pulaski County’s Christian Holman scooped up the Campisano fumble and raced 73 yards downfield for a touchdown, giving the Maroons a 14-0 lead with 2:00 left in the first half of play.
That play was a back-breaker for the Warriors. Instead of a possible 7-7 tie with the Maroons, the Warriors found themselves down 14-0.
“We’re actually driving there and picked up a first down around the 25-yard line, and we fumbled and they (Pulaski County) pick it up and go 73 yards for the touchdown,” lamented Southwestern head coach Andy Stephens, after his club fell to 3-6 on the season with the loss to Pulaski County.
“That was tough, because if we can go down there and punch that one in, it’s 7-7 at halftime,” Stephens added. “You know breaks can sometimes get you, and we fumbled twice there in the first half, and it cost us.”
Already leading the Warriors by that 14-0 margin at halftime, PC came out in the third quarter and attempted to land the haymaker to knock the Warriors down for the count.
After forcing a Southwestern three and out to begin the third frame, the Maroons took their opening possession of the second half, and marched the ball straight downfield, with a drive that was culminated by Tyler Goins on a 9-yard run for a touchdown.
That score gave a spirited PC squad a 21-0 cushion with 7:23 remaining in the third period of play.
“Last year, and I don’t know who said it, but there was a quote coming out of this game that ‘Southwestern sure had a lot of fun beating Pulaski County’,” stated Hines.
“That just didn’t set well with our team, and I can tell you we sure had fun beating Southwestern tonight,” added the PC coach. “We’ve now beaten them five out of the last six times we’ve played them, so I guess we’re having a lot more fun than they are.”
Trailing PC 21-0 through three quarters of play, the Warriors showed a ton of fight and heart, and mounted a comeback in the final stanza.
A Campisano 18-yard scamper for a TD cut the PC lead to 21-7 with 9:30 left in the contest, but Riley Hall and crew would have the answer, as the Maroons did for much of the night.
Hall connected with older brother Aaron Hall just 1:04 after the Campisano run, on a 32-yard scoring toss, and just like that PC went back up by that 21-point margin at 28-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Southwestern’s Devin Baker returned the PC kick 98 yards for a touchdown, once again trimming the deficit to 14 points at 28-14.
However the Maroons would hold on from there to nail down a perfect, 5-0 district record with the win over the Warriors, while improving to 7-2 on the season.
For Southwestern, the 2012 campaign has certainly not gone the way the folks in orange and blue had hoped, especially considering the fact that coach Stephens led the Warriors to their first and only regional championship last season.
With last night’s loss to PC, the Warriors fell to 3-6 on the year, and finished district play with only a 1-4 mark against league opponents.
Stephens pointed out that while his program is bitterly disappointed about not making the playoffs in 2012, that fact alone will be the fuel to the fire for the Warriors to get back to the level they found themselves in this time a year ago.
“We came into this season knowing that we were going to have to play a lot of young guys, but we still felt like we could fight and battle for an opportunity to make the playoffs,” stated Stephens.
“Things didn’t work out for us this year, but you’ve got to keep your head up and you’ve got to keep battling,” continued the SWHS coach. “We were battling tonight to try to go to .500 for the season, and we’re battling to try to win at home. Next week, it will all be about pride. We’re not going to like the fact that we didn’t make the playoffs. We’re going to use that all winter, and it’s going to fuel our winter workouts.”
Both the Warriors and Maroons will be in action next week at Pulaski County High School, taking part in the fourth annual Don Marshall Bowl.
And, both local teams figure to have their hands full next week at PC Field.
Southwestern will meet up against the Warren Central Dragons in next Friday’s first game at 6 p.m., and immediately following that game, Pulaski County will tangle with the Christian County Colonels.
Both Warren Central and Christian County have been ranked in the top five all season long in Class 5A by The Associated Press.
Warren Central will bring an 8-1 record into the Southwestern game, fresh off of last night’s 60-10 victory over Logan County.
Christian County meanwhile enjoyed a bye week last night, and will sport a 7-2 mark into next week’s game against PC.
PC — 7 7 7 7 — 28
SW — 0 0 0 0 — 14
PC — Helton 44 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — Holman 73 fumble ret. (Burgett kick)
PC — Goins 9 run (Burgett kick)
SW — Campisano 18 run (Baker kick)
PC — A. Hall 32 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
SW — Baker 98 kickoff ret. (Baker kick)
RUSHING — (PC) Goins 21-101 TD. (SW) Campisano 17-56 TD, Smiddy 8-39.
PASSING — (PC) R. Hall 21-35 258 2 TD 2 INT. (SW) Smiddy 3-16 44 3 INT.
RECEIVING — (PC) A. Hall 6-104 TD, Helton 4-63 TD, Goins 4-40. (SW) Russell 1-27.