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The 2011 season started off wonderful as Boone County raced out the gate with a 3-0 mark then the wheels started to fall off. The Rebels lost three of their next four games leaving them at 4-3, including back-to-back defeats in district play that left them near the basement of league play.
Head coach Rick Thompson got his kids to believe and they never gave up. Boone County went on to win five of six games and found themselves in the state semifinal game against undefeated Scott County. The Rebels nearly pulled off the impossible, but the Cardinals prevailed.
With a great late-season surge Thompson’s team fell just short of playing in their first state title game since 1994. It was an improbable run, but like any good team the boys from Florence got better as the year went on and in the end found a way and the heart to becoming one of the most endearing teams in school history.
Let’s take a game-by-game look at Boone County’s 2011 season:
GAME #1 –BOONE COUNTY 28, PULASKI SOUTHWESTERN 6: Big-play scoring strikes from Kameron Schwartz to Austin Howell and Jesse Schulze helped propel Boone County to a win the season opener over Pulaski Southwestern at Eastern Kentucky University. Schwartz completed 6-of-16 passes for 147 yards and the two touchdown passes. Howell caught two balls for 70 yards. Bryson Thompson led the Rebels with 83 yards with a touchdown on seven carries. The Boone County defensive front held the Warriors to just 29 yards on the ground. The Rebels did give up 189 through the air to Southwestern but most of that was between the 20’s. Mikel Reynolds recovered a fumble on defense and found the end zone on a short run on the other side of the ball for the victors.
GAME #2 –BOONE COUNTY 19, CONNER 7: Boone County used a powerful running attack and an opportunistic defense, to knock off county rival Conner. Senior linebacker Robbie Hiles stripped a ball loose then scooped it up for a 99-yard touchdown. Hiles also intercepted a pass on the Rebels’ 5-yard line as the Cougars were driving for a score. Conner was only able to manage 80 yards through the air and the two takeaways from Hiles. Running back Drew Struck ran for a team-high 102 yards as classmate Thompson pitched in with 83 more. Each player crossed the goal line once for the Boone County offense.
GAME #3 –BOONE COUNTY 35, COOPER 14: The passing and running games were finally able to sync up as Boone County amassed 381 yards of total offense as they cruised past Cooper. The Rebels’ defense was also strong, forcing three turnovers in the second half. They are allowing just 9.0 per game in this unblemished start to the season. Schwartz threw for 280 yards with three touchdown passes. He connected with Howell four times for 132 yards, including scoring hookups of 73 and 58 yards. Thompson had the other touchdown reception. Cody Rodriguez scored on runs of five and nine yards, his first two touchdowns of the year. Denzel Cain came up with his first interception of the year for the Rebels’ defense that led to Rodriguez’ second touchdown.
GAME #4 – COVINGTON CATHOLIC 28, BOONE COUNTY 20: It had been five years since Boone county last met Covington Catholic. The Rebels had lost seven of the last nine in the series prior to the FOX19 Friday Prep Rally matchup. Things were looking good for Boone County after Thompson scored his second touchdown of the game on a 25-yard pass from Schwartz to give his team a 14-7 lead in the third quarter. It was all set up by an interception from Jeremiah Williams. The Rebels continued the pressure as Cole Vires came up with the second pick of the stanza. Boone County failed to put points on the board and CovCath went to work flexing their muscles on both sides of the line. The Colonels would score twice on runs by star running back Gabe Gray to seize a 21-14 advantage heading into the final 12 minutes. Covington Catholic would score the last of 21 unanswered points on a pick six by Austin Oberhausen. Stuck scored on a touchdown run to cap off a 74-yard drive that left Boone County just eight points down with 2:15 left in regulation. The Rebels could not solve the mystery of the Colonels as they fell from the ranks of the undefeated.
GAME #5 –BOONE COUNTY 24, MALE 10: Head coach Thompson was pleased with the way his Boone County team responded after last week’s loss. The Rebels ran for 249 yards and watched their defense put up another stellar performance in their win over Male. Stuck picked up 150 of those Boone County yards on the ground with a touchdown. Rodriguez chipped in with another 92 yards and a score. Schwartz completed just two pass but one went for a touchdown to Jake Mullins. The defense has four takeaways. Hiles and Vires had interceptions while Cain and Rodriguez recovered fumbles.
GAME #6 – DIXIE HEIGHTS 34, BOONE COUNTY 27: The district opener left a bad taste in Boone County’s mouth as they fell to Dixie Heights. The Rebels had no answers for Auburn-commit, Zeke Pike. The Colonels’ quarterback ran for three touchdowns and threw for another for the home team. Boone County had opportunities all night, but Dixie Heights found answers as the Rebels’ defense had a very uncharacteristic outing. The team allowed 344 yards of total offense to Dixie Heights. They would see the Colonels answer every drive and in the end it would be the telling story of this contest. Rodriguez was a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy night. The senior scored on a run and an 80-yard kickoff return. He finished with 114 yards on the ground, 204 all-purpose yards and a sack.
GAME #7 – RYLE 27, BOONE COUNTY 13: As if things couldn’t get any worse, Boone County dropped their second straight district game as they fell at Ryle. For a second straight week the Rebels’ defense could not coral an opposing quarterback as Nathan Davis ran 177 yards with four touchdowns for the Raiders. The defense gave up 292 total yards to Ryle. During Boone County’s two-game losing streak they have given up 636 total yards and seven rushing touchdowns to signal-callers on the opposite side of the ball. Down 20-0 in the fourth quarter the Rebels found the end zone twice as Schwartz hit Cain for a touchdown and Thompson ran for another. It would not be enough as the comeback would fall short as the team lost for the third time in their last four tilts.
GAME #8 – BOONE COUNTY 24, SIMON KENTON 6: An anemic Simon Kenton offense coupled with a tenacious Boone County defense was just the tonic the doctor ordered to break the Rebels’ two-game skid. The defense held the Pioneers to just 89 yards of total offense and no touchdowns. The Simon Kenton offense has not scored a touchdown in 14 quarters after Friday night’s loss. Rodriguez returned a fumble for a touchdown. He led all rushers with 97 yards. Cain had an interception and hauled in a scoring toss from Schwartz on offense. Thompson had a rushing touchdown for the sixth time in eight games.
GAME #9 – BOONE COUNTY 37, CAMPBELL COUNTY 7: Campbell County came into the game having already wrapped up the District championship, but Boone County was having nothing of it jumping out to a 30-0, first-half lead as they handed it to the Camels. The Rebels improved to 6-3 and bounced back to finish 3-2 in Class 6A, District 6 play. Thompson led the team with 95 yards rushing while scoring his seventh touchdown of the year. Cain continued to be a productive receiver as he caught four balls for 82 yards and a touchdown. Schwartz also threw another touchdown to Howell. Kurt Curry found the end zone for the first time this season. It gave Boone County a 37-7 lead heading into halftime. Reynolds came up with one of three Rebels takeaways on the night. He also ran for a touchdown on offense. The Boone County defense has given up just one touchdown in their last eight quarters and is beginning to look like they did early in the season.
GAME #10 – JOHN HARDIN 32, BOONE COUNTY 13: If you are going to get a tune up before playoff football starts you might as well as face one of the best not in your Class. Boone County fell to undefeated John Hardin in the regular-season finale. The Bulldogs were considered a favorite to win the Class 5A title going into the playoffs. John Hardin dominated the line up front finishing the game with 291 yards rushing. The bigger Bulldogs showed why they are one of the best in Kentucky. The Rebels were able to move the ball on the ground. Rodriguez ran for 119 yards and a touchdown. Thompson pitched with 69 yards on the ground and a score. The senior has found the end zone rushing in eight of Boone County’s 10 contests.
GAME #11 – BOONE COUNTY 28, MADISON CENTRAL 21: The playoff march began in grand fashion for Boone County as they squeaked out a first-round, road win over Madison Central. Seniors Schwartz and Reynolds led the way on offense. Reynolds ran for a career-high 111 yards and a touchdown. He came into the game with just 126 yards on the ground during the regular season. Schwartz threw for 155 yards with scoring strikes to Thompson and Anthony Sanchez. It took his total to 14 touchdown passes on the season. The defense came up with fumble recoveries by Hiles and Rodriguez. For Hiles, it was his fourth fumble recovery of the year to go along with two interceptions.
GAME #12 – BOONE COUNTY 14, RYLE 7: Avenging a loss is always a great thing, especially in the playoffs. Boone County kept their post-season hopes alive after picking up a road win over Ryle. The Rebels fell to the Raiders on this same Borland Stadium turf just five weeks earlier. It was the defense that stepped up this time around. Boone County held Ryle to 88 yards of total offense and only three first downs on the night. The Rebels scored the only touchdown of the first half. It came on a 1-yard run by Reynolds to cap off a 73-yard drive. He would finish with 136 yards on the ground. It was the Ryle defense that stepped up as Boone County made its second costly mistake of the contest. Raiders’ defensive back Ryan Smith took an interception 61 yards for a touchdown to tie it a 7-7 in the third quarter. In the first half the Rebels fumbled through the end zone on what looked to be a touchdown. That would have made the score 14-0 but instead it gave the ball to Ryle on a turnover. Boone County answered the Smith interception when Schwartz would score from one yard out with 2:18 left in the third quarter. The Rebels’ defense stiffened up and made their senior quarterbacks touchdown hold up as they held off Ryle in the fourth quarter.
GAME #13 – BOONE COUNTY 21, LAFAYETTE 0: Boone County rode a smash-mouth defense and big special team plays to continue their playoff fairy tale with their third straight road victory as they shutout the Lafayette Generals. The Rebels got on the board first when Cain picked up a punt blocked by Hiles in the end zone for a 7-0 lead. Rodriguez gave Boone County a two-score lead when he punched one in from a yard out as they raced to a 14-0 halftime advantage. The offense did not complete a pass but they ran for 188 yards. Reynolds had a team high 70 of those. It was the Rebels’ defense though that made the statement as they held Lafayette to just 43 yards of total offense while picking up their fifth win over their last six games. Rodriguez was also a star on this side of the ball coming up with three quarterback sacks. Curry capped off the scoring on the night as he returned his first interception of the season 23 yards for a touchdown. Boone County advances to the state’s final four for the first time since 2007.
GAME #14 – SCOTT COUNTY 16, BOONE COUNTY 14: Missed opportunities will haunt the minds of the Rebels as they fell to undefeated Scott County in the class 6A state semi-finals. Boone County had two punts blocked and the last resulted in a safety that was the two-point difference on the scoreboard. The Cardinals escaped and earned a right to meet Trinity for the state championship at Western Kentucky University. Josh Walls got the scoring started as he scored on a run to make it 7-0 Scott County in the first half. Walls would end the game with 92 yards on 15 carries. A Rodriguez touchdown run with 4:27 left in the first quarter tied the score at 7-7 as Boone County made the statement they were not going to be intimidated from the kids from Georgetown. The Rebels' score was just the second first-quarter touchdown that the Cardinals have allowed all season. Scott County capitalized every chance they got like great teams do. With just six seconds left before intermission they punched in their second score on an 18-yard Ben Lawler to Kevo Edwards pass. The only second half points were on the Cardinals safety and a Boone County 48-yard touchdown pass from Schwartz to Thompson just before the end of the third quarter. The Scott County defense clamped down as the fourth quarter wore on. They stopped the Rebels on a fourth down late in the contest as they were able to run out the clock after the change of possession.
MILESTONES AND MORE
--The Boone County program made their first final four appearance since 2007. The road to get there wasn’t easy. The combined record of the Rebels foes in 201 was 94-68. They lost to a Class 6A team that went to the state finals (Scott County), a Class 5A team that went to the final four (John Hardin) and 4A team that went to the Elite 8 (CovCath). All of those squads had their season ended by the eventual state champions in their respected Class. Boone County beat three teams that won their District titles (Campbell, County, LaFayette and Cooper) and another who went to the Class 5A Elite 8 (Conner). It was the fifth time this century that the Rebels had won at least nine contests.
--Schwartz was solid on offense passing for 1,503 yards and 15 touchdown passes. On defense he was in on 33 total tackles with three interceptions. The senior had a well balance career for Boone County with 1,837 yards passing, 17 scoring tosses while being in on 162 total tackles with seven interceptions on defense.
--Reynolds was named First-Team All-Kentucky at linebacker after registering 122 total tackles (78 solo), 1.0 sacks, and interception. The senior also ran for 431 yards and three touchdowns on offense. He winds up with 206 total tackles and 4.0 sacks in a Rebels’ uniform.
--Rodriguez was a star in all phases of the game. He led the team in rushing with 894 yards rushing to go along with seven rushing touchdowns. On special teams the senior returned a kickoff for a touchdown while racking up 1,010 all-purpose yards. Defensively he was everywhere with 5.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and zeroing in on 70 total tackles. Rodriguez finishes with 144 total tackles, 6.0 sacks, four fumble recoveries, 912 rushing yards and 1,041 all-purpose yards.
--For Thompson it was all about his versatility on offense scoring a team-high 12 touchdowns (8 rushing, 4 receiving) while running for 647 yard and catching 14 balls for 270 more yards. He winds up his stay at BCHS with 537 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, 10 rushing scores, 955 yards on the ground and 1,237 all-purpose yards.
--One of Boone County’s most pleasant surprises of 2011 was the defensive performance by Hiles. The senior was in on 109 total tackles, led the team with 6.0 sacks, intercepted two passes, recovered four fumbles (including a 99-yard touchdown return) while racking up 150 total defensive returns on his six takeaways. For good measure he blocked a punt on special teams.
--Another fine all-around effort was turned in by Stuck. The senior ran for 460 yards and four touchdowns on offense. Defensively he was in on 75 total tackles with 2.0 sacks. He ends up a solid stay at Boone County with 1,025 rushing yards and 1,213 all-purpose yards.
--Cain was a pain for opposing coaches to game plan around leading the Rebels in receptions with 23 for 325 yards and three receiving touchdowns. On defense, the senior had 58 total tackles a fumble recovery and two interceptions. On special teams he registered 257 total return yards and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. He finishes his career with 39 receptions for 521 yards and four receiving touchdowns. as sr / 16, rec., 196 ReYds, 1 ReTD, 16 KORetYds as jr
--Howell was the Rebels’ big-play receiver. The senior lead the team with 402 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions on 15 catches.
--Ganster was the anchor of the defensive line with 59 total tackles and 4.0 sacks. The closes with 104 total tackles in the past two seasons.
--Vires was the teams return specialist and secondary hound. The senior was in on 39 total tackles, picked off three passes and racked up 383 total return yards.
Greg is a co-founder of TSF and is now entering his ninth season as a Featured Analyst for the website. The Xavier University grad also serves as the Content Manager for the website and is widely considered one of the top high school football experts in the region. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.