Warriors’ late run ends in regional final


Southwestern High School senior Austin Barnes runs with the ball during a recent game. The Warriors finished as region runner-ups for the fourth straight year, after falling to Fredrick Douglass by a score of 44-8.

LEXINGTON — Undefeated Frederick Douglass came into last night’s game versus Southwestern as the heavy favorite, and they played like it.

The Frederick Douglass Broncos ran out to an early lead and never looked back, resulting in a 44-8 victory over the Southwestern Warriors in last night’s regional championship game of the KHSAA Class 5A State Playoffs.

Douglass, who moved to 13-0 on the year with the win, will advance to the state semifinal round. Last night’s win was the inaugural regional title for the third-year football program.

Southwestern’s late-season surge comes to an unfortunate end with the 36-point setback to the Broncos. The Warriors, who will end the year at 7-6 overall, are the regional runner-up for the fourth consecutive season.

In the blink of an eye, the Broncos jumped out to a 16-0 lead after Darius Neal touchdown runs of 30 yards and 14 yards. When the horn sounded to signal the completion of the first quarter, Southwestern trailed Douglass by a 16-point margin.

The Broncos added two scores in the second quarter to widen their lead out to a 30-0 lead over Southwestern. Douglass had a pair of one-yard touchdown runs to take a 30-point lead into the locker room at halftime.

Douglass scored a touchdown 45 seconds into the third period, putting the running clock into effect for the remainder of the game. The Broncos’ fifth score of the ballgame widened their lead out to 37-0 with 11:05 to go in the frame.

Southwestern’s lone score of the night came on a 61-yard touchdown run from Tanner Wright. A two-point conversion run from Austin Barnes cut the Bronco lead to 37-8 with 7:31 to go in the third period.

The Broncos would get their final touchdown of the evening on a 41-yard pass. The extra point put Douglass out front by a score of 44-8, which would be the final score in this one.

On the night, Douglass’ high-powered offense racked up 206 passing yards and 131 rushing yards for a combined 337 total yards of offense. Southwestern had 120 rushing yards and zero passing yards in the loss.

Wright led the way for Southwestern with 69 yards and one touchdown on 12 attempts. Barnes chimed in with 36 yards on nine carries.

Despite the season-ending loss, Southwestern had an impressive year after beginning the year with a 2-5 record. After falling to 0-2 in district play, the Warriors were in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013, but a 38-20 win at South Laurel would keep their playoff hopes alive.

Including that must-win game at South Laurel, Southwestern went on a five-game winning streak to get to the regional championship round of the playoffs. The Warriors ended the regular season with wins over South Laurel, Pulaski County, and Madison Central before garnering postseason wins at Pulaski County and Whitley County.

With last week’s win at Whitley County, the Warriors earned their ninth district championship in program history and punched their tickets to the regional finals for the fourth season in a row. Southwestern’s district titles have occurred in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019.

When it was all said and done, the Warriors were one of the final eight teams still left playing on the big stage. Southwestern does lose a lot of talent from this year’s team, but the future of Warrior football looks bright with Foley at the helm.

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