LOUISVILLE — You can't tackle what you can't catch.
Breathitt County Coach Mike Holcomb feared that his Bobcats might have a tough time tracking down Central's speedy Yellowjackets in the Class 3A football finals Friday afternoon, and that proved to be the case.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Central, which used its fleet feet to run by Belfry in last year's title game, raced past Breathitt County 40-19 to repeat as champs before 3,917 fans at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
"We have a lot of good track kids who play football," Jackets Coach Ty Scroggins said. "We tell them, 'Just run fast' because when you run fast, good things happen."
Chance Hughes made good things happen. He ran 21 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns to help Central pile up 323 yards on the ground, and 453 overall.
"Breathitt County couldn't keep up with us," Hughes said. "That's why Coach told us to play fast and play hard."
Hughes was one of several Jackets who zipped by the Bobcats.
Anthony Wales ran for 86 yards and a TD. Stephan Robinson caught three passes for 120 yards and a score. And quarterback Chris King nimbly scrambled free time after time to throw for 130 yards and a TD.
"They just kept coming," Breathitt County Coach Mike Holcomb said of Central's speedsters. "They have a lot of ability.
"But anybody who saw us play knows our kids laid it on the line, too. I was proud of the way they kept fighting."
The Bobcats, who won state titles in three previous trips to the finals (1995, 1996, 2002), were hoping they could ride Channing Fugate to glory this time.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior tailback broke free often enough against Central that he wound up rushing for 133 yards and a TD on 18 carries. That put him over 3,000 yards this year, making him only the fifth back in state history to reach that plateau in one season.
Quarterback Jade Haddix put up good numbers, too. He ran for 113 yards, including a 64-yard TD, and passed for 100 yards and a score.
But Breathitt County's offense wasn't consistent enough to keep up with the quick-striking Jackets.
Holcomb said Central defensive tackle Mister Cobble was the problem.
"He's just unbelievable," Holcomb said. "He makes it so tough, and there's so much quickness around him."
Scroggins said Cobble and Ridge Wilson, both of whom have committed to UK, along with Tim Patterson and Jordan Tennyson, rose to the challenge.
"We've got four Division I football players, and I told them, 'If you're gonna be Division I, let's see what you can do against a Division I tailback.' They stepped up to the plate."
Cobble had a game-high eight solo tackles; Wilson finished with seven.
The game's biggest play came at the end of the first half. Breathitt County trailed 14-7 but drove deep into Central territory.
Then Haddix overthrew his receiver, and Rico Allen picked off the pass and returned it 87 yards — from his 12 to the Breathitt County 1.
Patterson dived into the end zone on the last play of the half to give the Jackets a 21-7 lead.
Central had a strikingly similar play — an interception return for a TD — late in the first half of last year's win over Belfry in the finals.
"It's like somebody upstairs is saying to give us an interception at the end of the half again," Scroggins said. "It was beautiful."
Central's run to titles the past two years has them on track to fulfill Scroggins' goal.
"We want to become the best public-school team in Jefferson County," he said. "And we're on our way."
Breathitt Co. 7 0 6 6—19
Central 0 21 6 13—40
BC—Zack Epperson 18 pass from Jade Haddix (Billy Davis kick); C—Chance Hughes 18 run (Rizik Lado kick); C—Stephan Robinson 65 pass from Chris King (Lado kick); C—Timothy Patterson 1 run (Lado kick); C—King 11 run (kick failed); BC—Haddix 64 run (kick failed); C—Hughes 31 run (Lado kick); BC—Channing Fugate 31 run (kick blocked); C—Anthony Wales 1 run (kick failed).
Records: Breathitt Co. 12-3, Central 11-3.
First downs 16 19
Rushes-Yards 31-246 51-323
Passing 100 130
Comp-Att-Int 9-18-2 5-11-0
Return yards 113 59
Punts-Avg. 4-33.2 1-31.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 6-2
Penalties-Yards 5-55 5-60
Time of possession 21:00 27:00