Jackets beat Marion Co. in home opener
On a Friday night, Sept. 9, in which there were a number of emotional pre-game ceremonies prior to its home opener (see sidebar), the Woodford County High School football team gave the Yellow Jacket fans that packed the stands something to cheer about. Down early by two touchdowns, Woodford rallied and defeated Marion County in the 2016 Governor’s Bowl. The 32-20 win in their home opener puts the Yellow Jackets record at 2-2 on the season. It was a sloppy start to the game, as the Yellow Jackets gave up a touchdown on the opening drive, as Marion County got on the board to lead 7-0 courtesy of a one-yard run. On the opening Woodford County drive, a bad snap on the punt gave Marion County the ball at the Yellow Jacket 10-yard line. Remarkably, the Jackets’ defense was able to stifle the Knights and force a fourth and goal from the 17. The Knights then missed a 34-yard field goal attempt. The next Woodford drive looked to be stopped short, as the Jackets had to punt again. Taking advantage of their own prior misfortunes, the Jackets faked the punt by mimicking a bad snap. The result was a 31-yard run by Brody McCoun giving Woodford a first down in Knight’s territory. However, two dropped passes stalled the drive, resulting in a change of possesion on downs. The sloppiness continued as two plays later, Marion County hit a seam in the middle of the field for a 72-yard touchdown pass. A blocked extra point later, and the Yellow Jackets found themselves down 13-0. It didn’t look much more promising when, moments later, senior quarterback Malik Richards’s pass was intercepted at the Marion County 23-yard line. All it takes is one play to change a game though, and on the very next play, the Yellow Jackets recovered a fumble at the Knights’ 29 at the end of the first quarter.
From that point on, it was all Woodford County, as the team began to just run over the opposition. “We are getting better up front and our backs are running hard,” explained Woodford head coach Dennis Johnson. “We still have too many plays where our backs are having to make someone miss in the backfield.” After several consecutive running plays, Richards snuck it in from a yard out to make it a 13-6 ball game. The next Woodford County drive followed a similar pattern, as Richards ran for gains of 11, 7, 30, and 6 yards. The drive was capped off with a swing pass from Richards to Domynik Johnson, who broke a tackle to find the end zone from five yards out with 6:55 to play in the first half. The extra point by sophomore Jacob Wolford was good and the game was tied 13-13, a score that would hold going into the halftime break. When the two teams emerged from the locker room, they both locked down on defense and went scoreless in the third quarter. Coach Johnson had nothing but praise for the defensive unit, “Our defense is playing well… Our defensive line coach, Derrick Johnson, and linebacker coach Matt Ambergey are doing a great job.” When the fourth quarter started, sophomore Ryan Duke took over quarterbacking duties after Richards had tallied 20 rushing attempts through three quarters. “We needed a spark, and thought Ryan could give us that spark,” said Johnson of the quarterback switch. His faith was well-placed. Duke threw a 34-yard pass to fellow sophomore Ben Nash to start the quarter and immediately followed it up with a 24-yard pass to Domynik Johnson. One play later, Johnson ran right for a touchdown to put Woodford up for good 20-13 with 11:19 to play. The defense was ferocious on the next drive as the Jackets forced a third and 28. Senior defensive back Graham Kain picked off the Knight quarterback to get the ball back. The ensuing Yellow Jacket drive looked dubious to start, but on fourth and 29 at the Marion County 36-yard line, Duke rolled right, threw back across his body to the center of the end zone, and Richards skied over a Marion County defender for the touchdown catch. The throw and catch couldn’t have been any more impressive, as the Jackets extended the lead to 26-13 with 7:17 on the clock. The defense held one more time, and Woodford County’s offense took over once again. After a few plays going in the wrong direction, Domynik Johnson found the end zone one more time, this time on a 73-yard touchdown to put the game away 32-13 with a little over four minutes to play. Marion County found the end zone less than a minute later to cut the lead to 32-20, but it only served to make the final score a little closer. The game was clearly won on the ground, as Woodford outrushed Marion County 221 yards to just 38. For their standout performances, Domynik Johnson and Richards took home Governor’s Bowl Most Outstanding Offensive Players, while Jacob Jenkins was rewarded for his dominant play on the defensive line with the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award. This Friday night, Sept. 16, the Yellow Jackets will see if they can defend their home turf once again as Nelson County comes to Community Stadium. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
A Night to Remember When sports are at their best, they can serve as powerful moments that help to heal and unite communities as people come together with a single focus. Perhaps the greatest example of this was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in New York as the Yankees helped heal the largest U.S. city in the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. Arguably the most iconic moment came when President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch (for a strike) prior to Game 3 of the World Series in Yankee Stadium while wearing a bulletproof vest. Last Friday night, Sept. 9, a small town in Kentucky had its own unifying moment when the fans and players at Woodford County’s Community Stadium came together to remember the life of Logan Tipton before the kickoff of the high school football game. Logan’s number 63 has been commemorated this season in the helmet logos worn by the Yellow Jackets. And, he was memorialized with a special yellow helmet signed by the entire Yellow Jacket program. The helmet was presented to his parents and siblings, including his younger brother Aiden, who now proudly wears the 63 for Woodford Youth Football. In addition, Woodford County High School head football coach Dennis Johnson proclaimed that the No. 63 jersey would not be worn by any player during the 2016 season to honor Logan. On this night, the WCHS football team joined with the Woodford Youth Football program in a heartfelt moment that culminated in a beautiful moment of silence. Before the little league players left the field, the teams joined together to break huddle before the high school squad went to the locker room. “Family on three, and mean it.” Coach Johnson told the group. “We talk about family and thought it would be nice to honor the family at our first home game,” said Johnson. “I loved that our little league got to be a part of it. We are trying to build the program from the ground up, and Logan will always be a part of us.” It was a night of several special pre-game ceremonies that also included an incredible performance of the national anthem by new Woodford County Public Schools Hall of Fame inductee Tammie Bradley, and senior Yellow Jacket Jacob Jenkins carrying a Woodford County flag as the team came running out of the locker room to a rousing round of applause. The Yellow Jackets then made sure their play on the field only added to the special evening.