Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sports commentary - Knox rivals overstating their wins

While I'm at the UK game, here's the commentary I did for this week's Turret.

Knox rivals
their wins

Turret Sports Editor

Enough, already.

Fort Campbell and Elizabethtown have apparently taken their recent victories over the Fort Knox Eagles as feathers in their respective caps. But I think both might do well to remember who's been dealt what cards.

The Fort Campbell Courier published a huge top-half piece in its Sept. 1 sports section, featuring a banner headline reading, "Knox gets knocked," and "Falcons destroy Fort Knox 46-10 in annual Army Bowl matchup."

Destroyed? Hardly.

In fairness, the game is the traditional Army Bowl, and we're keeping tabs on the series, in which Fort Campbell now holds the lead at 16-14. Bragging rights go to the Falcons for another year. Hurrah.

But as I pointed out in the story I did on the game, Class 2-A Campbell had 22 seniors ready to play that Friday night, while Class 1-A Knox had eight. More than half of Knox's roster is made up of freshmen and sophomores, many of whom are brand-new players.

Look at any poll for Kentucky and you'll find Fort Campbell in the top five. They've got Micah Johnson, a strong contender for Mr. Football, and a much larger pool of potential players to pull from each year.

Turret editor Larry Barnes was quick to point out that just a few years ago, when Knox was dominating the series, Campbell opted to drop the annual game, only to pick it up again under pressure.

More locally, the News-Enterprise's Nathaniel Bryan wrote Sunday that after Elizabethtown's 29-27 win over Fort Knox, the 2-A Panthers are "ready to move on." I'm not convinced.

Elizabethtown's win could well have been a loss if a passing play called by Knox in the final minutes of the game had been a kick instead. With a fresh set of downs at the four-yard line, Knox quarterback Troy Meno threw into the end zone and wound up with a pick instead of a touchdown.

An easier call for Knox that night might have been to kick a short field goal instead of relying on a questionable pass.

But hey, I'm not the coach. All I'm saying is that the Panthers' win didn't exactly come in a rout, and certainly isn't much of a springboard to use going into the rest of their district schedule -- not with heavy-hitters LaRue County and Louisville Western still on their schedule, and an earlier savage beating by Central Hardin still shadowing them.

The Eagles, while young, have shown themselves to be a tenacious team. They drew first blood at Fort Campbell with a field goal by kicker Ryan Ogden, and nearly reversed the tide of the Elizabethtown game after a strong second quarter and a near-win in the fourth. They barely lost their season opener to Class 4-A Oldham County.

Given the relative youth of the Knox squad, one would expect the point spread to be widening instead of narrowing this year. But that isn't the case.

The make-up of a military high school football team understandably ebbs and flows a bit faster than civilian high schools, and Knox may have a high tide coming soon if recommendations by the Base Realignment and Closure commission are finalized. With a net gain of assigned personnel, Class 1-A Fort Knox is going to have a lot more potential players to choose from, and if the work ethic remains the same, the Eagles could soon be a force to be reckoned with.

My advice to the gloaters in Fort Campbell and E-town?

What goes around, comes around.