Scott County pulled ahead of Ryle, 40-34, with 4:07 to play in last week’s region finals matchup in Georgetown. Following conventional wisdom, kicking an extra point would have been the safe play considering Ryle had driven downfield much of the night against the Cardinals.
Safe, shmafe: Cardinals Coach Jim McKee elected to go for two. Scott County quarterback Josh Davis flipped the ball to sophomore Glenn Covington, who lofted a pass to a wide-open Landon Easley in the corner of the end zone to extend Scott County’s lead to eight points.
Asked why he made the gutsy call in the waning minutes of a do-or-die game, McKee said it was all about putting extra pressure on Ryle even if it was to score again. It worked; the Raiders did score again but not enough to keep Scott County from a 42-40 victory.
Scott County has practiced that play once a day in practice this season, and it was not the first time the Cardinals employed it in a game. They used it to put a running clock into effect against Bryan Station during the regular season, the game film from which McKee hoped opposing coaches would stop watching before getting to Scott County’s conversion.
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“Obviously if we need a two-point play next week, I’ve gotta have a new two-point play,” McKee said with a grin.
Had Scott County not converted, possibly enabling a Ryle victory, McKee said he would have still made the decision, putting himself in fans’ line of fire instead of a player.
“I don’t want to put (that pressure) on a kicker,” McKee said. “I’d rather it be on me. If we don’t make it right there, then whose fault is that? Me. Everybody else would say, ‘Well, why didn’t you kick it?’”
McKee’s willingness to choose a hard option in a crucial moment is reflected in the team’s attitude. Colby McKee, an offensive lineman who’s being recruited by multiple Division I schools, referenced the Cards’ mantra — “Farm Tough Football” — in his postgame comments Friday. It’s a fitting motto for a team that every season outclasses most of the state in rushing yardage.
We’re gonna line up next week and run the full back and run the sweep. We run the same plays. And if Lafayette’s good enough to stop us then they’ll beat us and if not, we’ll have a lot of yards.
Jim McKee, Scott County football coach
Scott County has employed a Wing-T offense each season since McKee took over the downtrodden program in 1997. The tried-and-true formula has the Cardinals back in the state semifinals for the first time since 2013, when they went on to become the first non-Louisville team to win a Class 6A championship.
The Cardinals have rushed for 4,080 yards this season, about 500 behind where they were after the regional round during their title run. Of course, a weather-shortened game against Lafayette, which Scott County was later required to forfeit, dampened that total a bit.
History suggests the Cards will find running room against Lafayette in their semifinals rematch despite the Generals having allowed an average of 84 yards this season. In the four meetings before this year’s forfeit, Scott County went 3-1 and rushed for at least 300 yards in those contests (it had 148 through one half in the forfeit).
“When we get in trouble is when I try to coach too much,” McKee said. “We’re gonna line up next week and run the fullback and run the sweep. We run the same plays. And if Lafayette’s good enough to stop us then they’ll beat us and, if not, we’ll have a lot of yards.
“We like to take pride in doing what we do and doing it at a high rate of efficiency.”
Scott County (11-2) at Lafayette (12-1)
What: Class 6A state semifinals
When: 7:30 p.m.