GEORGETOWN — Scott County senior lineman Branson Scott arrived at football practice on Monday with his arms wrapped around the trophy the Cardinals were awarded after they beat Male in the Class 6A semifinals in Louisville last Friday night.
A few of Scott's teammates kidded him about showing affection for the hardware.
"Why are you hugging that thing? That's not the one we want," Scott Daniel said.
Scott County hopes to get its hands on a state championship trophy when it plays Meade County in the KHSAA/Russell Athletic 6A finals at Western Kentucky University's L.T. Smith Stadium on Friday night in Bowling Green.
The Cards won a 2A state title in 1975 and have been runners-up in the big-school classification twice. St. Xavier crushed them 49-9 in the 4A finals in 2004. Trinity trounced them 62-21 for the 6A championship in 2011.
Scott County Coach Jim McKee remembered "being a little overwhelmed" by the finals experience in 2004. "And even though getting there in 2011 was great and awesome, Trinity was No. 1 in the nation and we knew what we were up against.
"It's a different feeling this year, thinking there's a realistic chance we can win."
Scott County (14-0) is favored this time around. It's the top-rated team in 6A and is coming off a 24-10 victory over Male. Meade County (12-2) lost to Male 41-12 in early October.
Scott County and Meade County are both ground-hugging Wing-T teams, but the Cards have been more productive. They have three running backs — Keith Guy, Theo Price and Kevin Claussen — with more than 1,000 rushing yards apiece.
Scott County is averaging 352 rushing yards and 54 points a game, compared to Meade County's 284 yards and 36 points.
Meade County's defense has been stingier, though. It's giving up 64 rushing yards and 10 points a game compared with the Cards' 127 rushing yards and 20 points.
But Green Wave Coach Larry Mofield is wary of Scott County's explosiveness. "They can grind it out on you, and the next thing you know they go 80 yards on you. They have the backs to do that."
Scott County's defense doesn't get the credit it deserves, but it was the difference in last week's win over Male.
"Whenever our offense isn't getting it done, the defense steps in. That's what we did last week," defensive end Jacob VanMeter said. "That and our special teams."
McKee is obsessed with all aspects of the kicking game. That obsession paid off last week when the Cards blocked a Male field goal and returned it for a momentum-swinging touchdown.
"We were solid all around," McKee said. "Kickoffs and punt coverage, we made all our (extra points), we made a field goal, and we blocked their field goal. Those things win you games."
Mofield has taken notice.
"When you score as many points as Scott County, most people look at their offense. But their defense and special teams are setting up a lot of those scores by giving them short fields, and by blocking punts and kicks. They do a great job of that."
Scott County doesn't lack for motivation, either.
The Cards have been on a mission since last year's semifinals, when they blew a 14-0 lead and lost a 21-14 heartbreaker to Trinity. The Shamrocks went on to rout Pleasure Ridge Park 61-7 in the finals. Scott County felt it should have been the team hoisting the championship trophy.
"We had Trinity beat, but we let it slip through our fingers," senior center Travis Wright said. "Ever since that game we've worked hard to get back to this point, going for the big one."
At WKU's L.T. Smith Stadium (All times Eastern)
Class A: Mayfield (13-1) vs. Williamsburg (11-2), noon
Class 3A: Belfry (13-1) vs. Wayne County (14-0), 4 p.m.
Class 6A: Scott Co. (14-0) vs. Meade Co. (12-2), 8 p.m.
Class 2A: DeSales (13-1) vs. Central Catholic (10-4), noon
Class 4A: Highlands (13-1) vs. Collins (12-2), 4 p.m.
Class 5A: Bowling Green (13-0) vs. Pulaski Co. (14-0), 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25, $15 and $11 Radio: WVLK-FM 101.5
Kentucky.com: Staff writer Mike Fields will be in Bowling Green both days providing live coverage on Twitter @MikeFieldsNotes and on his blog at Kentucky.com.
Video: KHSAA.org will have live video of every game.