TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

January 10, 2013

The Road Ahead"

Rhymer will try to build South Laurel into playoff contender

CORBIN — New South Laurel coach Matt Rhymer seemed excited and ready to go during the announcement of his hiring on Tuesday.

South Laurel hasn’t played a single game yet, but I believe he is the right man for the job. He’s professional and put a big focus on his team to not only win games, but to “work on our image as individuals as a team,” while having “great success in academics.”

Plus how can you not like a guy when he’s already got his quotes typed out for you?

Rhymer is young and energetic and expressed his teams will have to “outwork our opponents in the weight room, practice field, film room and on Friday nights” to be successful.

He also said “last, but not least, focus will be on winning and doing all it takes to win. Our expectation will be to win every time we compete. Losing will not be acceptable. We will only be satisfied with winning. The mindset of winning will have to be established. Our team will have to become mentally tough as soon as possible to see a quicker turnaround.”

With that said, I’m glad he got the job as South Laurel’s sixth head coach of the football program. The program needed a fresh face and a new start and they’ve got that with him.

But by no means is the job going to be an easy one.

There was a time the South Laurel football program was considered one on the rise.

But after turning in six winning seasons in the first eight years of the program while going 3-4 in the playoffs during the process, it’s been a different story the past 13 years.

The Cardinal program has put together four winning seasons since while garnering only one playoff win in nine postseason games.

South Laurel has put together two of the program’s worst seasons during the past three years, going winless at 0-10 in 2010 while posting a 1-9 mark this past season (the Cardinals were also 1-9 in 2001).

The last time the Cardinals put together a winning season came back in 2007 when former coach Jason Chappell guided his team to a 6-5 mark — their struggles in the postseason have been just the same.

Former coach Jep Irwin’s 2005 team captured the program’s last playoff win. The Cardinals have posted an overall mark of 23-51, including an 0-4 mark in postseason play since.

But that doesn’t mean this football program can’t be successful because it can.

South Laurel turned in some impressive seasons by posting a 31-24 mark during a five-year span (2003-07), but the Cardinals are only 14-39 since.

It’s going to take time, so South Laurel fans need to be patient. South Laurel participates in a tough district and it will be interesting to see who Rhymer can get on South Laurel’s schedule as non-district opponents.

Also another little tidbit on Rhymer’s hiring — having former South Laurel football alumnus Neil Warren on the Football Coach Interview Committee was a step forward for the program.

Warren is a proven winner on and off the football field. He’s the best student-athlete I have covered and is wise beyond his years.

He was the starting quarterback on South Laurel’s 11-2 squad that lost to Tates Creek in the Class 4A regional finals in 1999 before becoming quarterback at Georgetown College.

Former coach Randy Leger was also on the committee along with athletic director Keith Gilbert, principal David Cummins, assistant principal Lynn Parman, SBDM Teacher Member Mark Jones, SBDM Parent Member Stephen Barnett and Coach Representative Konnie Snyder.

Kudos goes out to all of the above for a job well done.

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