High School Football

LexCath-Boyle football rivalry crucial as usual

Catholic quarterback Kyle Bolin threw downfield as Lexington Catholic played Boyle County on Friday September 30, 2011  in Boyle, Ky.  Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Catholic quarterback Kyle Bolin threw downfield as Lexington Catholic played Boyle County on Friday September 30, 2011 in Boyle, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

November brings us all kinds of delights — apple cider, pumpkin pie and a showdown between Lexington Catholic and Boyle County in the third round of the football playoffs.

The Knights play host to the Rebels on Friday, the fifth year in a row they've clashed in the Class 4A quarterfinals.

The winner in three of the last four playoff games has gone on to claim the state championship — Lexington Catholic in 2007, and Boyle County in 2009 and 2010.

This has to rate as one of the best rivalries in the state.

"You look at the stakes that are always on the line and how close the games usually are ... it's been really good football," Knights Coach Bill Letton said.

Boyle County Coach Larry French agreed.

"It's a good one, no doubt about that. All the games seem pretty close, the kids enjoy playing each other, and both teams play hard."

What adds spice to the rivalry is that the teams are in the same district, so their regular-season battle determines home-field advantage in the playoffs. The home team has won the post-season rematch the last four years.

Lexington Catholic got the home-field edge this time by beating Boyle County 20-13 on Sept. 30. Kyle Bolin's 77-yard touchdown pass to Casey Nash with five minutes left ended a three-year, six-game losing streak to the Rebels.

Lexington Catholic seniors Kurt Wilhelmus and Jordan Artrip were glad to finally beat Boyle County.

"When we lost to them in the past, I saw the look on our seniors' faces and I felt like we let them down," said Wilhelmus, a three-year starter at center. "We're not going to lose to them again."

Artrip, a three-year starter at linebacker, remembers the pain of losing to Boyle County the past two Novembers: "The worst feeling in the world. I'll never forget it."

Both players recognize the rivalry as special, and the Rebels as a worthy opponent.

"Our lines really battle," Wilhelmus said. "They're really disciplined up front. They don't always have the biggest people, but they really put it out there and play hard.

"We respect each other, but we really don't like each other very much."

Artrip said the intensity of the rivalry "means it's always real competitive, and that makes for harder hits."

Lexington Catholic beat Boyle County two months ago by keeping the Rebels' running game in check. They rushed for 197 yards, but the longest gain was 14.

The Rebels' defense smothered Lexington Catholic's ground game, giving up only 22 yards, but it couldn't contain the Knights' air attack. Bolin, the junior quarterback, threw for 369 yards, including the game-winning TD strike to Nash.

Whoever wins Friday's rematch will host the semifinals the day after Thanksgiving against either unbeaten Highlands or Covington Catholic.

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