Brett Jenks joked to his team that if it wins one more game, the script will be Hollywood-bound.
The third-year Lawrence County girls soccer coach has poured much of his time and energy into vaulting the Lady Bulldogs into a consistent place among the state’s elite.
For the second straight season, Lawrence County advanced past the Semi-State round — this time with a 5-2 defeat of Letcher County Central on the road on Tuesday. Last season, the Lady Dawgs beat Ashland in Louisa.
The program is in just its fifth season of existence. Before Jenks took over in 2011, Lawrence County girls soccer had a grand total of two wins to its name.
In his three seasons, the Lady Bulldogs have won three district titles, two 15th Region championships and now own two state quarterfinal appearances. They face Tates Creek, the defending state champion, on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Lafayette High School in Lexington.
Needless to say, Jenks’ joy on the soccer field has been hard to match.
But all of those feelings of sheer excitement were overcome by a completely different emotion about 10 months ago.
“To say it has been an unbelievable year for me and my family would be an understatement,” Jenks said.
Kailey Jenks, Brett’s daughter, is now a freshman on the team, but her soccer future was in serious doubt in December 2012.
Kailey was diagnosed with an atrial myxoma, which is a rare benign heart tumor. She underwent open-heart surgery on Dec. 10 to have it removed.
“We did not know if she would ever play soccer again,” said her father/coach.
After a grueling, seven-month recovery period, Kailey’s heart was regulated and she was released in July.
“Watching as she stepped back out on the field for the first time after not knowing if she would every play again was one of the most emotional experiences that a parent can ever go through,” Brett Jenks said. “For me, as a parent, my season was complete when she first took the field.”
Kailey is third on the team in goals scored, with 13. Leading that category is Shelby Hay, with 38. Mollie Workman has tallied 24.
“(Hay) has been consistent all season, scoring in nearly all of our contests,” Brett Jenks said.
On Tuesday, Skylar Chapman put in a pair of scores. Ashleigh Adkins, Tori Dillon and Ashleigh Adkins each found the net once.
Said Jenks about Dillon’s goal: “It’s probably one of the best goals I have seen all season.”
According to Jenks, he constantly shuffled the lineup for the better part of the fall. During one tough stretch, the Lady Dawgs lost three straight to Ashland, Russell and Spencer County.
Since falling to East Carter, 2-0, on Sept. 30, Lawrence County (20-5) has reeled off eight consecutive victories while outscoring opponents, 32-6.
Senior captain Ashley Puryear and sophomore Alice Hudson assume the middle-back roles, while Chapman and Kailey Jenks have found their spots at the center-mid positions. Adkins and Workman have also spent time in the middle, said Jenks.
Dillon, at striker, and Hay, at forward, have also excelled.
Catherine Clay, a sophomore, is Lawrence County’s goalkeeper.
“We have a great group of young ladies and I am truly blessed to be a part of it,” Jenks said.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.