Some Dawgs run in pairs.
Time and time again, Lawrence County football has served as the magnet between Alan Short and John Caudill.
For the past two seasons, they've been essential to Lawrence County head coach Joe Cecil's plan to put the Bulldogs back on the map.
"They're guys that you like to have around," Cecil said. "They were successful players here, went off to get degrees, and now they're back as successful coaches. It's good for the kids to see that."
Both 2000 graduates, Short and Caudill played on some of the best Lawrence County teams in program history. Under coach Chuke Williams, the Bulldogs went a combined 46-7 from 1996-99.
Short played quarterback, and Caudill was a tight end and defensive end.
Friends since childhood, Short and Caudill separated during their college years, as Short played for and graduated from Campbellsville University. Caudill played two-plus seasons with Morehead State University before getting into coaching at Bourbon County while finishing up his schooling.
In 2005, Short and Caudill were reunited as assistants for then Bulldogs coach Billy Goldsmith.
Their paths forked again, though, after one season.
Short went to Adair County, where he taught and coached for four years, and then coached at Lindsey Wilson College for one season. As for Caudill, he broke away from coaching after spending the fall of 2007 with Lawrence County.
Fate wouldn't tolerate such a turn as, before long, the boys were back in town.
Since before the 2011 season, Caudill has been the offensive line/head strength coach; Short the offensive coordinator.
“It’s great (working together),” Caudill said. “There’s already a natural chemistry between us. Working with one of your childhood friends in a game you grew up playing, at the same school. It’s a blessing.”
“It’s certainly special,” Short added.
Cecil got his first glimpse of Short and Caudill as an opposing coach while at East Carter.
“You knew what kind of player (Short) was,” Cecil said. “When you get to know the person he is, you know he’s meant to be a coach. John’s in the same breath.”
Short has developed a natural bond with current Bulldogs quarterback A.J. Cyrus. Cyrus was a very young fan of Short’s in the late ’90s.
As the leader of the offense, Cyrus has helped orchestrate an overall inexperienced group to a scoring average of 32.7 points per game so far this season.
“The kids have been very responsive to (Caudill and Short),” Cecil said of the 30-year-olds. “They’re young and that has its own advantage.”
Each had visions of becoming a coach someday while still wearing the uniform.
Caudill studied exercise science for that reason. He’s also a personal trainer and teaches at Lawrence County’s alternative school.
“I used to think, if it wasn’t at Lawrence County, maybe I could be a strength and conditioning coach somewhere else,” Caudill said.
Caudill turned down a chance to work at Gold’s Gym in Lexington in favor of a job pouring concrete for his uncle in Louisa because he was also able to coach the Bulldogs in 2005.
“Now that I’ve been here, I’ve passed up opportunities to go to other places,” he said. “I enjoy being here. I enjoy being home.”
A backup to Jason Michaels in 1996 and ’97, Short got his chance to start under center as a junior and senior. By Senior Night, he was thinking of a future on the sidelines.
Short actually majored in business administration at Campbellsville, but when a career in sales didn’t look like it would pan out, he completed coursework to earn his Master’s Degree in physical education.
On Friday nights, they’re both playing their part, albeit in different spots on the premises.
“I like to be out of the limelight,” Caudill chimed.
Caudill coaches from the box, while Short is on the sidelines.
Cecil has given the duo more freedom in his second season at the helm.
“Last year, I didn’t do a very good job of just letting them go,” Cecil said. “(The offense) has pretty much been their baby. I trust what they do.”
Caudill said maybe he, Short, Cecil and the rest of the staff can help bring back some of that ’90s-type success.
“It’s not just us, it’s everybody in this community,” Caudill said. “That was a very proud time. We had several away games where we would have more fans than the home team. We all want Lawrence County to experience that again.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664. Look here every Tuesday for another installment of “Sidekicks” throughout the high school football season.