How monumental was Fairview’s state semifinal victory on Friday night?
Eagles coach Nathan McPeek is throwing his weekly 24-hour rule out the window following a 40-6 throttling of Hazard.
“We’re going to enjoy this one for 48 hours,” said the 30-year-old coach, who has his team playing its best football of, forget the season, all-time.
“I can’t ask for anything better,” McPeek said. “I want the players to get the credit.”
The players, while many young and some not born-and-bred Eagles, seem to truly get it. They have a refreshing understanding of what it means to have just broken the mold of a program that began in 1970.
From seniors, such as Cody Sammons ...
“It’s insane. (Some of us) who have always played together, we’ve dreamed about this, going to a state championship game,” said the starting center. “Everybody was doubting us, nobody thought we could do it. But here we are.”
... to freshmen, such as Tanner Dolen, who scored two touchdowns on Friday ...
“This is a great team, it’s like family,” he said.
... to newcomers, like senior Mason Rutherford, who was quickly stripped of stranger status by Fairview after joining the Eagles this past summer.
“You see the look on these people’s faces just because we’re going to State, and it just makes your heart pound,” Rutherford said. “I’ve never felt a feeling like this.”
What usually might take years to fully comprehend, the players all seem to firmly grasp what they’ve just accomplished — a second straight undefeated season, back-to-back district titles and school firsts in a regional championship and state semifinal win — and its resonating impact.
Westwood is riding a tidal wave.
Scott McIntyre, a former player and an assistant coach within the program for 20-plus years, has enjoyed the entire ride. To get one step from the top, well, that’s nearly indescribable for the 1989 graduate.
“I’ve been chasing this for so long,” an emotional McIntyre blurted. “I can’t even talk. What we’ve done is phenomenal. This is the greatest feeling in the world. This brings us that much closer together, people are crying and hugging one another.”
Senior fullback/linebacker Chris Brewer said the team’s unique awareness is a reflection of the Eagles’ coaches.
It’s ingrained in them from the get-go, that their supporters should drive them to be better. But when they win, of which they’ve done a lot lately — Fairview is 53-13 under McPeek — they have to remained focused.
Now at 14-0, the Eagles started off a little rocky. They had scares from both East Carter and Fleming County in Weeks 2 and 3 of the season. Last season, Fairview never even trailed until its loss in the regional championship game against Pikeville. The early adversity, Brewer said, helped this year’s bunch.
“This year we had to pick it up and come together as a team, and to peak right here as we are,” Brewer said.
“We’re really good about putting the last (game) behind us,” added the three-time 1,000-yard rusher. “After last week at Pikeville (a 36-14 win) we could’ve had a big head. It’s Coach McPeek’s 24-hour rule, it really is. He reminds us all week that we cannot put our head into the past.”
When informed of the extra full day of wallowing in the joy of Friday’s sweet victory, responded Brewer: “We might need it.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.
com or (606) 326-2664.
How monumental was Fairview’s state semifinal victory on Friday night?
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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.
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