For The Independent
Late in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game against West Carter, Boyd County faced a 4th-and-3. Pick up those three yards and the Lions win, anything less and the Comets have one last chance at a comeback win.
First-year Boyd County coach Ray Brooks knew just the play that the situation called for.
Because he really had only one option, not because the Lions’ playbook is so simplistic or the coach is hard-headed, but rather because one player didn’t give him a choice.
Gaje Ayres didn’t walk up to his coach and demand to get the ball — in fact he didn’t say anthing at all — but after seeing the confident look in the senior’s eyes, Brooks knew exactly where the ball had to go.
Ayres didn’t disappoint either, as he picked up six yards on the play to cement the Lions’ 14-7 win over the Comets at Tom Scott Field.
“Towards the end of the game, he was just looking at me like give me the ball I will get it,” Brooks said. “When a senior says that in his last game, you give him the ball.”
In all, the coach gave Ayres the ball 17 times for 66 yards. While not putting up gaudy numbers, it was his work between the tackles that helped the Lions sustain drives during the second half, in which the Lions overcame a one-point deficit.
“He doesn’t get the glory runs, but he makes this offense click,” Brooks said. “It is a stop-the-fullback-first kind of offense, and Gaje has really played well all year.”
Ayres was just one of 12 seniors playing their final game at Tom Scott Field. It is a group that Brooks said he could not be more proud of.
“It doesn’t feel like I have been coaching these guys for one year, it seems like it has been longer than that,” he said. “I just have been so proud of them from the beginning. The way they work in the weight room, the way they hung with it through the coaching change, and they way they just focused on football.”
After Braden Brown found Tristen Mitchell for a 22-yard score, the Lions found themselves down. That is when the combination of Ayres and Reid Dearfield really went to work.
The two led Boyd County on a 10-play scoring drive that was capped off by Billy McCoy’s 15-yard hook-up with Jacob Barnwell with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter.
Dearfield, also a senior, accounted for 64 yards on 20 carries, including the Lions’ first score — a 10-yarder in the second quarter.
West Carter (0-10) did not play like a team that was winless and had no playoff game to look forward to. The Comets pulled out all the stops on offense, and were fired up on defense. In the first half alone, West Carter ran a halfback pass and a fake field goal, but neither proved to be successful.
“I was really happy with the effort,” Comets coach Kevin Brown said. “I was kind of worried about that really. At 0-9 things can really fall apart. We have never been 0-9 since I have been here, so I didn’t know how they would react. But we played really hard and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
West Carter had several good opportunities to score in the first half, only to be turned away by the Boyd County defense.
“Basically our defense just bailed us out tonight,” Brook said.
The Boyd County (5-5) defense is in for a tough test next Friday, when it travels to take on the defending state champions Fort Thomas Highland Bluebirds in the opening round of the playoffs.