BOWLING GREEN —
Ten strong with hands interlocked, Fairview football's senior class banded together to retrieve its prize.
It wasn't the “runner-up” on the trophy or the “8” on the scoreboard that mattered on Friday. What meant the most was the “state” in front of runner-up and the “Fairview” above the amount of points it scored during Mayfield’s 55-8 victory on this sun-splashed day.
“We may have lost on the scoreboard, but in our hearts we accomplished what we came to do,” said senior lineman Cody Campbell.
What they came to do was represent a school which had never before been mentioned in the same breath as the state’s elites.
Fairview coach Nathan McPeek talks often about a senior class leaving its mark.
This one stamped Fairview onto the map. People outside of Westwood actually know what the heck “Believe in the Wood” means now.
Fairview was up against great odds, facing a school with heavy state finals experience — 18 total appearances and nine titles. The Eagles met a Cardinals team that was hungry after missing their chance in the championship game a year ago.
As assistant coach and high school principal Garry McPeek put it, Fairview was David and Mayfield was Goliath but the Eagles weren’t going to return to Westwood with any rocks left.
“We didn’t know what to expect coming up here,” Campbell said.
In the center of the 22,000-seat Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium was Fairview — a school with 276 students, a school that was forced to drop football less than two decades ago, a school that some thought would never reach this level.
“Just making it here, which so many people said we couldn’t do, is something,” said senior Chris Brewer. “It’s good for our program.”
The close-knit senior group set the precedent for the future of Fairview football.
The near future will contain plenty of talent from this year’s bunch. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the look of agony displayed on junior lineman Anthony Roark’s eye-black-smeared face said it all. These Eagles don’t believe they are, nor do they want to be, finished yet.
In the grand picture, Fairview didn’t need to win on Friday. It didn’t even matter that they lost or how badly they lost.
“Even though we won’t have that ring, we'll still be remembered,” Campbell said. “In our school, our senior class is always going to be remembered as the first to come to the state championship and that’s an honor.”
Fairview’s record over the last four years: 45-8. The Eagles hadn’t even trailed by more than 20 points since November 2009, when the seniors were freshmen, against Lexington Christian.
Fairview nearly cut the deficit to within 20 after Campbell blocked a punt and recovered the loose ball in Mayfield territory in the second quarter. It was 28-8 at the time, and Fairview followed the big defensive play with a 23-yard pass. However, the drive met its demise with the thing that haunted Fairview all day long — a turnover.
Turnovers will become short-term memories, though.
Ten long-lasting memories of the 2012 Fairview Eagles:
‰A state record 6,098 rushing yards led by three 1,000-yard rushers.
‰An inexperienced defense that blossomed into one of the best.
‰A 36-14 victory over Pikeville that gave the Eagles the school’s first regional championship.
‰A blowout of defending state champions Hazard in a home state semifinal game.
‰A 40-27 win over Raceland in front of approximately 4,000 fans in Westwood.
‰A second straight undefeated regular season.
‰A second consecutive Class A, District 7 championship.
‰A quick impact by Elijah King and Mason Rutherford after becoming eligible in Week 4.
‰A touchdown by senior Joel Wardle, born with dwarfism, against Powell County.
‰A final game in Bowling Green.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.