In Jan. 15 IssueBy Derek AaronNews-Register Editor
The Russell County Mighty Laker football team finished this past season as one of the more successful teams in recent memory. The team finished the season 7-5 overall, including a 27-6 first round state playoff win over host Hopkins County Central. That playoff win was the first for the program since 2000 and just the second state playoff victory ever by Russell County High School, a feat head coach Bill Sharp doesn't want to see future Laker teams be complacent with obtaining.
Nevertheless, this past season will be remembered by many parents, players and coaches as one that passed by too quickly. The 2010 Lakers held their annual football banquet commemorating the season on Tuesday night at Lindsey Wilson College's Roberta D. Cranmer Dining and Conference Center where memories were relived and moments reminisced.
"When you do the job of coaching high school football for 28 or 29 years, there are years that never end," Sharp said. "I've had those, but this was not one of them."
Sharp said this past season seemed like each game rolled into the next one.
"We would no more than set down on a Sunday afternoon to look at game film and it would be Friday and we'd be ready to roll again," he said. "Win or lose, the season went exceedingly quick."
He said this group of young men was a pleasure and blessing to coach.
"I don't know when I've had as much fun," he said. "And it wasn’t just about the winning, but winning helps… there was a lot of fun in the effort to win. We got better every week and I would have liked to played a Somerset or a Pulaski County at the end of the season because I think they would have had their hands full with us."
Sharp said his team, especially on the defensive side of the football, got so much better as the season progressed.
"It allowed us to go into Hopkins County and do what we wanted to do," he said. "It allowed us to go into Allen County and come within a hair's breadth of beating the number two team in 4A. We were so close, so close and there are still times I lay in bed at night thinking 'what could we have done differently?'"
Russell County fell to eventual state 4A runner-up Allen County-Scottsville 24-15 in the second round of the state playoffs, holding their own against the host Patriots for three quarters before Allen County pulled away in the final quarter.
"This senior class is not one I wish to see go," Sharp said. "But it is like everything, there is a cycle, there is a season. These young men are going to move off into other endeavors, college, jobs … life. It is coming at them."
He said there wasn't a senior on this past season's team that he didn't have a world of confidence in.
After speaking to the outgoing senior class, Sharp had a message to the underclassmen.
"It is going to get tight real quick, understand that," he said. "You can't think you want to be a football player, you better know it."
Sharp said he and his assistant coaches were preparing to push the players to another level.
"The expectations have been raised," he said. "We're not just talking about winning a playoff game; we're talking about winning a district."
Awards given at the banquet included the Luke Burton award which was given to Daniel Ortiz, the Special Teams award given to Lucas Williams, the Defensive Lineman award given to Logan Smith, the Linebacker award given to Lucas Whittle, the Defensive Back and Receiver awards went to Taylor Hutchison, the Offensive Lineman award went to Ronnie Lawter, the Offensive Back award went to Nick Britt, the Earl Aaron Award of Excellence went to Todd McGowan, the Coaches award went to Jeron Hammond. Martin Cross was named the team's most valuable player.
The Lakers say goodbye to 10 seniors from this past season's team, Brandon Stinson, Daniel Ortiz, Jeron Hammond, Justin Roy, Kerry Kingry, Ronnie Lawter, Logan Smith, Martin Cross, Taylor Hutchison and Todd McGowan.