By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
A group of young men at Southern Middle School ended their football careers in fine-fashion this past weekend, as they came away with their second state championship in as many years.
The eighth-grade Warriors did something that not every kid does in their middle school football playing days, finishing a perfect 27-0 in two seasons, as well as, coming away with two straight state championship banners.
As seventh graders, Southern went 14-0 en route to winning their first of two state titles. This past season as eighth graders, Dwight Engle’s ball club went 13-0 and finished as state champions once again.
“This is a special group of kids that just refuse to lose,” began the veteran Warrior football coach. “They do everything the right way, and do everything for God’s glory. I am very blessed to be able to be on the sidelines with such great kids.”
“They are not only the best football team in the state, but they are a group of young men that understand trusting Jesus and giving all the glory to God is a bigger reward than the trophies sitting in trophy cases. This group of players is going to be missed.”
Over the weekend, Engle and company traveled to Lexington Catholic High School for the Final Four of the Kentucky Middle School Football Association (KMSFA) state championship weekend. Though the final scores of their two games looked lopsided, the Warriors had to overcome some adversity.
Southern’s opening game of the weekend was supposed to get underway around 8 p.m. Saturday night, but that didn’t happen, as Mother Nature delivered a storm that pushed kick-off back to well past midnight, meaning the game didn’t start until early Sunday morning. Despite the delayed kick-off, the ‘Blue and Orange’ destroyed Louisville Farnsley by a score of 42-14.
Later that same day, Southern downed Bowling Green by a final tally of 49-0 to clinch the Division One state title for the second year in a row. In the 49-point win, the Warriors held Bowling Green to 18 offensive yards.
Two Warrior players racked up awards in the game, as William Lemmon was named the offensive MVP and Chuck Burton was named the defensive MVP.
To get to the championship weekend at Lexington Catholic, the Warriors had to get past cross-town rival Northern in the Region 4 championship game. Southern got the best of their rival, as they downed the Maroons, 22-6, while holding them under 100 yards of total offense.
According to Engle, the win over the Maroons was his favorite victory in his 20-plus years of coaching.
“The win over Northern was the biggest win in my 23 years of coaching,” stated Engle. “Being a team of that caliber in one season was pretty satisfying for me. We knew going up against Northern was going to be tough - they’re one of the best teams in the state. It’s a shame that we’re in the same town and we don’t get to play for the state championship instead of regional championship.”
Bell County was the Warriors’ first victim in the playoff run. Despite jumping out to an early lead, Bell County roared back to make things close. Southern, however, would pull away to pick-up their first of four playoff victories that saw the Warriors outscore their opponents, 149-42.
Engle wanted to thank the Southern administration for letting him coach the team at such a high level. The state champion coach wanted to express gratitude to the assistant coaches on his staff - Chris Honeycutt and Marc Cundiff.
“Coach Honeycutt’s play calling was at the top of his game, he made the defenses keep guessing on what was coming at them next,” explained the SMS coach. “Coach Cundiff had a defensive scheme for each team we faced. Our defense was more prepared for the offenses we faced because of the time put in on preparation by Coach Cundiff. Head coaching is made easy with excellent assistant coaches and players.”