Watters runs vs Tigers

Jacob Watters picks his way through the Hopkinsville defense during the first round playoff game at the Stadium of Champions.

HOPKINSVILLE—  At halftime of the Hopkinsville and Calloway County game, 10 cop cars appeared just behind the visitors side seating. It’s almost as if someone called to report a robbery in progress because the Lakers were tied with the Tigers 14-14.

A wacky set of circumstances led to the tie score and some questionable decisions by the Tigers’ coaching staff.

Hopkinsville took the lead 14-7 with two seconds left in the first half and inexplicably kicked off to Aaron Fennel and the Lakers instead of squibbing it on the ground. Fennel made them pay with a 76-yard return for touchdown and the game was tied 14-14 headed to halftime.

“Fennel’s been lightning in a small package all season and whenever he broke that first wave I was like, ‘He’s gone,’” head coach Chris Champion said. “Everybody is going to know his name next year and everybody is going to be kicking away from him. This year they had to pick their poison between Luke (Schwepker) and Aaron and for whatever reason they kept picking Aaron...He’s a warrior.”

Ultimately, the Tigers were able to pull away and win 28-20, but the Lakers proved last night that they could compete with the best the district had to offer.

Headed into the game the general consensus by other media outlets was that the game wouldn’t just be won by Hopkinsville, but dominated by the Tigers. Their only question was at what point would the running clock start. 

Posted on the door to the locker room this week were excerpts with that sentiment from media outlets for the Lakers to see. It was bulletin board material posted there by Champion. It was part of the process of changing their mindsets this week.

“The one thing I challenged these guys to do was just face this task head on,” Champion said. “Let’s grow from boys and become men in this game and face adversity, give it your best effort and leave everything on the field. That’s been our motto all week and for the first time I think everybody finally saw the team that I knew we could be. We’ve had a few weeks with the same personnel and group of guys and we learned a lot about ourselves here. Deep down in my heart I knew that we could play this well and I knew we could stand a shot against Hopkinsville. We’ve been sniffing out those guys for a while now, and we made a game of it and in the end Hopkinsville is a good football team and they came out with it.”

Calloway took the lead on the first play of the second half to break the scoreless tie. That play was a fourth-and-17 reverse pass by backup quarterback Kanyon Franklin. He lofted the ball downfield to Luke Schwepker in one on one coverage with the Tigers top cornerback and Luke came down with it. The play was just installed into the playbook on Monday and the call took guts.

“The one thing we were not going to do was leave anything in the playbook,” Champion said. “Here we came in 1-9 and we knew we had to get some momentum swinging our way so we were willing to pull out all the tricks that we could. We had another couple up our sleeves we were hoping to unload there at the end, but we ended up giving the ball back and they were able to run the clock out.”

Every other playoff game between the top-seed and the fourth-seed last night was won in decisive fashion. The only team to truly give it a run as supreme underdogs was the Calloway County Lakers and that’s something to be proud of.

“What a great effort by these kids. They had every reason to lay down and instead they chose to grow up tonight and played their hearts out and I’m really proud of them,” Champion said.

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