Boone County's physical style of football has given Henry Clay plenty of bruises over the years, and the Rebels did it again in the season opener Friday night.
They probably bruised the Blue Devils' egos, too, in a 28-19 victory in the iHigh Football Frenzy at Henry Clay.
"It wasn't a fun night for us," Devils Coach Sam Simpson said.
Henry Clay, which won 10 games last fall, was in everybody's pre-season Class 6A top 10 this year while Boone County was coming off its first losing season (4-7) in more than a decade.
"I told the kids all week to never underestimate Boone County because they're always physical," Simpson said.
Jordan Oppenheimer led the Rebels' power ground attack. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior ran 34 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
Boone County controlled the ball and the clock thanks to its offensive line. The Rebels got off almost three times as many plays (63 to 22), and owned time of possession (34 minutes to 16).
"We like to be physical and run the ball, and we were able to do that tonight," Coach Rick Thompson said.
The Rebels surprised Henry Clay through the air.
Quarterback Bryson Thompson, the coach's son, completed four of six passes for 45 yards, including a 19-yard TD pass to Jake Mullins on fourth-and-seven.
The Rebels also burned Henry Clay with a 37-yard halfback option pass from Kameron Schwartz to Caden Doyle that set up a score.
The Devils' defense couldn't consistently stop Boone County on third down. (The Rebels were 7-for-13.)
Boone County's defense did a decent job of keeping Henry Clay's speedy skill people in check.
Devils quarterback Jerry Williams scrambled for a 42-yard TD run, and he threw a 29-yard TD pass to Evander Harris.
Henry Clay's other score came on Blake Green's fumble return less than a minute into the game.
Penalties and turnovers were costly to the Devils. They had two long TDs wiped out by flags, and they lost two fumbles and an interception.
Simpson said his team "didn't show a whole lot of emotion," because it might have gotten distracted by its pre-season rating.
"We've gotta do the work on the field and answer the bell," he said.
Boone County, on the other hand, showed that it is determined to make up for last year's struggles.
Thompson said he challenged his players in the off-season, and that they responded "with a lot of heart."
"Oh my gosh," he said. "We busted our butts all winter long. We're like a new team this year."
Boone County 0 14 7 7—28
Henry Clay 7 6 6 0—19
HC—Blake Green 29 fumble return (A.J. Yewell kick). BC—Jordan Oppenheimer 40 run (Maurcio Moreno kick). BC—Oppenheimer 2 run (Moreno kick). HC—Evander Harris 20 pass from Jerry Williams (kick failed). HC—Williams 42 run (rush failed). BC—Jake Mullins 19 pass from Bryson Thompson (Moreno kick). BC—Oppenheimer 2 run (Moreno).