But at the end of the day, none of the above has worked.
For the third straight year, Trigg County’s football season came to an end at Rash Stadium at the hands of Owensboro Catholic. The Aces scored 28 unanswered points in dealing the Wildcats a 35-23 setback Nov. 11 in Owensboro.
The loss ended Trigg County’s season at 9-3.
“They do what they do extremely well. They just make more plays than we do every year. You have to give them credit because they get the job done,” said Wildcat head coach Curtis Higgins, who has a 6-6 record in the playoffs at TCHS.
Owensboro Catholic’s depth and ability to come up with the big plays on third and fourth downs helped them advance to the region championship game for the fourth straight year.
Catholic converted six-of-eight third down conversions in the first half and 8-of-16 for the game, which consistently kept their drives going. Trigg converted 3-of-11 on third down.
The Wildcats had the momentum on the Aces after Brent Wietting banged home a 31-yard field goal to give Trigg a 10-7 lead with 1:17 left in the opening quarter.
But the Aces responded with four straight scores, while Trigg County appeared to grow tired against separate offensive and defensive units.
“I think a lot of our penalties on offense were due to fatigue,” Higgins said. “A lot of times, we were ready to snap the ball, but our receivers weren’t ready because they had just finished chasing their guys on defense. It’s a numbers game. When all of my skill kids have to guard them and run routes, it makes a difference.”
Trigg County’s secondary was hit-or-miss against Owensboro Catholic quarterback David Woodward, who connected on 15-of-34 passes for 252 yards. The senior threw for three scores and was not picked off although nine of his passes were deflected by the Wildcat secondary.
“I thought we did a good job wearing them down by hurrying up and getting to the football, which was our plan,” said Owensboro Catholic head coach John Edge.
Woodward connected with Neil Holland on a crossing pattern across the middle for a 13-yard score that gave the Aces a 14-10 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Trigg County only crossed into Aces territory on one other drive of the half, with two possessions ending in interceptions by Wildcat quarterback Tommy Woodall.
Catholic twice could have padded the lead, but a fumble ended one drive at the Wildcat 21-yard line and second drive ended when Rick Woods sacked Woodward on fourth down at the Wildcat 25-yard line.
The game’s biggest play came with Catholic facing fourth-and-14 at the Wildcat 32-yard line. Woodward found Aces receiver Nick Norcia, who outjumped Woods in the end zone for a 21-10 lead with 7:25 left in the third quarter.
Trigg tried to answer on their next drive, but a first down run by Woodall was negated by one of 17 Wildcat penalties in the game.
After the Wildcats were forced to punt, Holland returned the kick to the Wildcat 27-yard line.
Trigg dodged a bullet when Robert Sholar blocked a 24-yard field goal attempt, but Trigg fell on the loose football at the 1-yard line. Had no one touched it, they would have taken over at the 20.
Playing against the short field, Woodall threw his third interception, and linebacker Adam McBride returned it 15 yards for the touchdown and a 28-10 Aces’ lead with 1:12 left in the third quarter.
The Aces put the game out of reach when Woodall’s fourth interception set up a 5-yard run by Houston Kamuf on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Trigg answered with a pair of scores to make the game respectable. Greg Acree caught a 24-yard pass from Woodall with 7:02 left.
With under a minute left, Sholar partially blocked a Catholic punt, and Jamaal Boyd returned it 45 yards for the score. Trigg failed on the two-point conversion, leaving them trailing 35-23 with 34 seconds left.
The Wildcats had several chances to recover the ensuing on-side kick attempt, but couldn’t fall on the football.
Trigg County had 296 yards of offense, but was a one-dimensional passing team in the second half. The Wildcats had 85 yards on 25 carries, with just nine yards on the ground in the second half.
“The fact we couldn’t run the football effectively out of any kind of passing formation hurt us,” Higgins said. “We’ve been able to do that all year, but couldn’t tonight. Their linebackers are tough and played extremely well.”
Woodall was 16-of-33 for 211 yards and a touchdown and led the ‘Cats on the ground with 33 yards on ten carries.
Devin Tejada had four catches for 87 yards, while Greg Acree added four catches for 57 yards.
The Wildcats were done in by 17 penalty flags for 142 yards. 11 of the 17 came on offense, with five of those procedure penalties. The Wildcats also had three flags for delay of game despite the stadium being equipped with a visible play clock at field level.
Owensboro Catholic rolled up 352 yards of offense, with all but 100 coming through the air.
The Wildcats were able to contain the Aces’ leading rusher, Kamuf, holding the speedy back to 59 yards on 18 carries.
But Owensboro Catholic’s offensive line was able to fend off Trigg County’s pass rush, giving Woodward plenty of time to find his receivers on the field, most notably Holland who caught seven passes for 141 yards.
“We knew exactly how they were going to line up on defense and worked on that in practice,” Edge said of the protection his offensive line gave Woodward.
The Aces improved to 11-1 with the win and advances to play 12-0 Fort Campbell this week on Post for the Region I championship.
Owensboro Catholic has won the past two region titles, while Fort Campbell is looking for their first region title in a decade.
If there wan any good news that came from last week’s trip to Owensboro, it was that Trigg County fans have likely made their last playoff trek to Rash Stadium.
Owensboro Catholic struck an agreement with Kentucky Wesleyan College to enhance their football field and share the facilities starting next year.
According to the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, the big addition to the current field will be stands on the home side of the field, which will seat 1,900 people.
Eleven skyboxes will sit atop the structure that can be rented by both schools. Upgrades to the facility will also include new locker rooms for players and referees, restrooms, concession areas and a training and equipment room. Lights will be added for night games, the newspaper said.
Owensboro Catholic has shared Rash Stadium with Owensboro High School since the 1950s and rented the facility on their game night. However, Catholic began to look elsewhere when the Owensboro Board of Education asked them to pay half of the field’s planned $800,000 upgrade, the OM-I said.
The new field also features artificial turf, which would give Wildcat coaches one more extra thing to prepare for when they make any future trips to Owensboro Catholic.