Adrenaline-pumping electric guitar flowed from the loudspeakers.
The heavy sounds pleasantly greeted Chris Brewer's ears as he charged up for the biggest game of his life.
Then, the 23-second mark of the song hit … "Let's Go!" A scream lasting seven seconds resounded throughout Fairview Stadium. The juices were officially flowing for Brewer as he blazed onto the field alongside the rest of the Fairview Eagles during team introductions.
"I've been trying to get them to play that for years," said Brewer, referring to "Tears Don't Fall" by Bullet For My Valentine.
Brewer, a senior fullback/linebacker, didn't play his final high school game on Friday night. That will take place this Friday at noon in Bowling Green, where the state championship is on the line. Fairview and Mayfield kick off the two-day, six-class string of final games.
Few took last year's regional championship game loss to Pikeville harder than Brewer.
Those horrible, lingering feelings caused the normally reserved player to hold a players-only meeting before Nov. 16's regional final at Pikeville this season.
"He kicked all of the coaches out of the locker room," said Fairview coach Nathan McPeek. "He had some stuff to say and wanted to get off his chest. Obviously, it's worked."
Brewer felt the need to alter the pre-game routine, he said.
"Coach talks every week," he said. "I just kind of figured, a different game, let's change it up a little bit. Get something going. I told them about how bad it was (last year) and how emotional I got after we lost. I didn't want to feel that again."
Brewer is the second-leading rusher of the Eagles' three 1,000-yard backs with 1,505 yards on 149 carries — the others are Devon Turner (1,520) and Elijah King (1,331).
Apparently, Brewer has busted through his shell as if it was a helpless linebacker in his path.
"He's still pretty quiet most of the time, but in the moments that something needs to be said, he's said it this year," McPeek said. "Whether it's a one-minute speech, or two minutes, he always has something good to say."
Fairview struggled through the first three weeks of the season, emerging from close games against East Carter (32-17) and Fleming County (21-14). Brewer was pivotal in keeping the Eagles unified, McPeek said.
"He played a crucial role, helped steer the ship in the right direction," McPeek said. "He knew we had a lot of new guys in a lot of new positions, and he knew once those guys settled in, we'd be pretty good."
Brewer's been as consistent in his studies (27 ACT score) as he has on the field (3,952 career rushing yards, 45 TDs).
"The Train," as assistant coach Scott Miller labeled him, refuses to be derailed. In fact, he's gotten stronger and faster through the years.
Tacklers are having a more difficult time catching Brewer when he runs outside this season. However, most of the time the 5-foot-10, 235-pound bruising fullback prefers navigating between the tackles.
Thanks to King's and Turner's exceptional speed, Brewer has enjoyed running through some larger holes this year.
"They help me out by opening up the middle to take people outside," Brewer said. "They also help when they go in motion. Usually the linebackers, sometimes the whole defense, flows one way and I can kind of cut it back."
Between sharing the workload with King and Turner, and being on the right side of a few blowouts, Brewer's carries weren't always numerous. He had fewer than 10 touches five separate times this season.
"I never really look at how many carries I get," Brewer said. "A lot of people could get real selfish, but me, Devon and Elijah, we're not."
Brewer rushed 14 times for 200 yards and two scores against Pikeville before a 22-carry, 120-yard performance in the state semifinal blowout of Hazard.
Several people showered congratulatory messages and pats on the back onto the Eagles following Friday's win.
Annette McPeek, wife of assistant coach/high school principal Garry, hugged Brewer and said, "You deserve this. You deserve this."
Brewer said it hasn't fully sunk in that he and the Eagles are playing for it all this Friday.
"I hope it does when we get there," Brewer said.
If Fairview (14-0) happens to pull it off, it will certainly help Brewer get past those feelings he experienced last November.
A new, refreshing kind of emotion is overcoming him.
Tears may fall.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
Brewer one of Fairview's lead vocalists
Adrenaline-pumping electric guitar flowed from the loudspeakers.
- Local Sports
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- GALLERY: Ashland gets by Greenup County, will meet Fleming in region final Ashland's Steven Friley scored 21 points Monday to lead the Tomcats to an 81-61 win over Greenup County in the 16th Region semifinal in Morehead.
Kittens clamoring for more at state
Ashland girls basketball coaches went the extra mile, and a whole bunch more, to get a first-hand scouting report on the Kittens’ opponent for the State Tournament.
Head coach Bill Bradley and assistant Phil Wittich drove all the way to Henderson — 5 hours, 20 minutes one way Bradley said on the way home — to take in Sunday’s Second Region championship game.
Henderson County, playing on its home floor, defeated University Heights 67-54. The Lady Colonels went unbeaten in their region this season and are 24-5 overall.
EKC hands out hardware
The Eastern Kentucky Conference handed out its 2014 awards on Monday afternoon at a luncheon at Carter Caves.
Barracudas earn kudos from coach
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights