By Mitch Howard / The Endzone Staff
LYNN CAMP — Why would a small Kentucky Class A school like Lynn Camp play a big, powerful Tennessee school like Campbell County?
“I got stuck into it. I really did. People don’t realize what scheduling is,” Lynn Camp coach Phil Russell said.
When a possible game against a 3A school didn’t materialize, it left Lynn Camp scrambling to fill an open date. The choices left were all large schools and Campbell County became the best option for several reasons. Russell saw some teams as possibly taking more of a physical toll on his squad compared to the pass-friendly Cougars. He also had an eye on the rest of the schedule when he filled week No. 2.
“They mirror some teams in our district and allow us to get better,” Russell said.
Even a 50-0 loss to the Cougars Friday didn’t dampen the spirit of the Wildcats’ optimistic coach. Russell said he did not regret playing Campbell County and did not dread the game.
“We embraced it. Now we are getting ready to get in our 1A stretch and there are no more of these teams on our schedule,” Russell said. “Don’t get me wrong, Williamsburg and Middlesboro will be tough. They all will be. We just take it week to week.”
Campbell County led 36-0 after one quarter and 43-0 at halftime. The entire second half was played with a running clock. Russell constantly pointed out to his team the things Campbell County did well and how his players could use it as a learning tool.
“They do a lot of the same things we do. They just showed tonight that they executed and we are still getting there with our execution,” Russell said.
Execution was most apparent early in the game when it was still a game. The Cougars scored on their opening drive when quarterback Ethan Jeffers connected with Trey Torres on a 20-yard scoring pass. The Lynn Camp defense appeared to be in position to make the play with Torres splitting two defenders.
Lynn Camp’s first possession showed some promise before a pass tipped off the receiver’s hands and was intercepted. Preston Miller returned the interception 53 yards for a touchdown. It was the second tipped pick-six interception in two weeks for the Wildcats.
After a Lynn Camp punt, the Cougars made it 21-0 on an eight-yard pass from Jeffers to Joseph Elkins. Two plays earlier, a potential interception could have ended the drive.
Lynn Camp turned the ball over on downs, which led to another quick strike from Campbell County and a 28-0 lead. Next came a fumble and a 36-0 hole in the first quarter.
“I love my guys. I love this football team and as you could see we didn’t quit,” Russell said.
Campbell County starters were still in the game when the Lynn Camp defense held to open the second half. Russell continued to call creative plays from flea flickers to hook and laterals to challenge his team.
“That’s my job. If I quit, how can I expect them not to quit,” Russell said.
When time expired, Russell wanted fans, parents and cheerleaders to surround the team. This game was over and they were looking ahead.
“We’re getting there. We just need a lot of reps. We’re going to have the best week of practice we’ve had thus far starting Monday. We’re going to give them the weekend to think about everything and we’re going to get better,” Russell said. “Watch us in three weeks and see what you see. I really feel that.”