Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 24, 2012

The Second No L's

Fairview, McPeek stand win away from back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

WESTWOOD — Fairview football is merely one win away from cementing back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. It would be a school first.

Winners of 20 straight regular season games dating back to 2010, the Eagles are set to join exclusive company. The last northeastern Kentucky area school to record two straight unbeaten regular seasons was Lawrence County in 1997-98.

If Fairview beats Powell County on the road on Friday night, fifth-year Eagles coach Nathan McPeek would become one of just four area coaches since 1970 to have guided his team to back-to-back undefeated regular season campaigns. He would join Tom Scott (Boyd County, 1973-74), Walter Brugh (Paintsville, 1977-78) and Chuke Williams (Lawrence County, 1997-98).

“Those guys, I’m not in the same breath as those guys,” McPeek said on Tuesday. “I promise it’s nothing I’m doing.”

Fairview’s current streak of six straight winning seasons, which began under coach Rex Cooksey, is also a program-high.

If that’s not evidence enough for the Class A school, having nearly 50 kids out for football before this season indicates the winning culture that Fairview has become.

“Kids want to play football here,” McPeek said.

Bonuses help, too. Over the past two seasons, the Eagles have enjoyed most things new — bleachers, scoreboard, locker room and press box are among those.

“I think it goes to show them that we have a lot of people behind us,” said McPeek, who mentioned major contributor John Clark by name. “We probably wouldn’t get those things if we were 1-9 every year.”

Heading into this season, McPeek knew that youth might be an obstacle to another 10-0 mark.

Both East Carter and Fleming County played the Eagles closely in August.

By Week 4, Fairview’s idle week, McPeek fielded a number of questions concerning his young Eagles — they regularly play several sophomores and a few freshmen.

“Everybody was asking what’s wrong with us,” McPeek recalled. “Our guys were still getting used to each other. By the bye week, they started to mesh and practice well.”

The sometimes silent yet always strong leadership by seniors Chris Brewer and Devon Turner have helped drive the Eagles toward their three goals of earning district, region and state titles. Brewer is aiming for his third 1,000-yard rushing season, Turner his second. They are at 973 and 914, respectively.

“When (Brewer and Turner) say something, everybody listens to them,” McPeek said.

Leadership has been a shared skill from top to bottom, though, as even freshmen Tanner Dolen and Alex Roy have impressed their coach. Roy took the reins as starting quarterback by Week 5.

Tackles Cody McPeek and Anthony Roark have helped steady the offensive line, which has allowed Fairview to roll up more than 4,000 yards of offense.

Seniors Elijah King and Mason Rutherford have played key roles on both sides of the ball as well.

“Mason and Elijah have brought an edge to us, they’re confident players,” McPeek said.

While this team racking up nine wins without a loss, and a possible 10th on Friday, was slightly more surprising to McPeek than last season’s run, he’s not totally shocked at the results.

“Our kids really buy into our offseason workouts,” McPeek said. “They do a good job in the weight room. I think that’s why we win. Their preparation and focus has been dialed in during the season.

“They’ve really bought into playing Fairview football.”

And that means winning these days.

McPeek is quick to quote Alabama head coach Nick Saban, owner of three BCS championships.

“I talked to the guys (Monday) in the team meeting. I used a quote from Nick Saban. He says to do something a little bit different than everybody else if you want to be a champion,” McPeek said.

The regional final round has proven to be impenetrable for the Eagles the last two seasons. They let leads of 12-0 (against LCA in 2010) and 18-0 (against Pikeville in 2011) slip away.

McPeek and company hope to break through for another school first — a state semifinal appearance — in 2012. That would also further establish the Fairview coach in the elite group of Brugh, Williams and Scott.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.