Lexington Catholic Coach Bill Letton wasn't looking for flash-and-dash football from his Knights in their season opener against Bell County Friday night.
He knows that his quarterback, Kyle Bolin, can slice up a secondary with his passing, and that the skill guys around Bolin can make plays.
No, what Letton wanted to see was whether his team could be tough and physical against the tough and physical Bobcats.
Letton liked what he saw.
Lexington Catholic's defense forced three turnovers and made a couple of huge fourth-down stops in a 21-7 victory over Bell County.
"We hit like crazy," said senior safety Alex Nash, who had six tackles, including four for losses. "Coach told us we just out-hit 'em, and played more physical than they did.
"They were running down our throats all night, but we stayed in there and stopped them when we had to."
Nick Foster and Kairon Snowden led the Knights' hit parade, along with Nash and Derek Hayden.
"Time and again we created turnovers with good physical play, and that was a big key," Letton said.
"Fortunately, when (the ball) was on the ground tonight, most of the time we were able to get it."
Bell County Coach Wayne Mills thought his team's three fumbles made the difference.
"Same thing last year (in a 33-27 loss to Lexington Catholic), we turned it over," Mills said. "They're a heck of a football team. Physical. But we laid it on the ground and didn't give ourselves a chance to win."
Lexington Catholic's offense sputtered in the early going, and Bell County dominated time of possession.
After fumbling away the ball at the Knights' 5-yard line, the Bobcats cashed in their next opportunity. Ryan Collett scored on a 13-yard run early in the second quarter.
Lexington Catholic answered right back, though.
Bolin hit Sam Letton with a short pass that Letton, with the help of terrific down-field blocking, turned into a 46-yard TD. Letton, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound freshman, is the coach's son.
Lexington Catholic took the lead just before halftime. The Knights got great field position after tackling Bell County's punter when he tried to run on fourth down.
Bolin hit Braxton Couch with a 17-yard TD pass, and added a two-point conversion throw to Nathan Burke.
The Knights didn't score again until Bolin connected with David Bouvier on a 7-yard TD pass with 1:16 left in the game.
Bolin, who has committed to Louisville, completed 17 of 31 passes for 213 yards, three TDs and one interception. Bouvier had nine catches for 100 yards and a score.
"Bolin is as good as advertised," Mills said. "He made college throws tonight that we probably won't see the rest of the year."
Bolin admitted the Knights got off to a slow start offensively. "It's hard at the beginning of the season to be clicking on all cylinders.
"But it was a good learning experience. We started slow but finished strong, and I think we'll take that momentum into next week."
Lexington Catholic, rated No. 2 in Class 4A, plays host to national power Ensworth, Tenn., in the Bluegrass Bowl next Saturday night in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Bell County, rated No. 4 in 3A, got strong performances from Collett and Jonathan Polly, who combined for 144 rushing yards. Corey Lee and Justin Warwick led a defense that kept Lexington Catholic in check most of the night.
"I'm proud of our effort," Mills said. "It's not how you start the season, it's how you finish it, that's what people remember about you."
Lexington Catholic 21, Bell Co. 7
Bell County 0 7 0 0— 7
Lexington Catholic 0 15 0 7—21
BC—Ryan Collett 13 run (Hayden Gilbert kick). LC—Sam Letton 46 pass from Kyle Bolin (Bobby Jacoby kick). LC—Braxton Couch 17 pass from Bolin (Nathan Burke pass from Bolin). LC—David Bouvier 7 pass from Bolin. (Pass failed).
Records—Lexington Catholic 1-0, Bell Co. 0-1.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com