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EARLIER: Rockets dominate Southern, 55-0

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Shelby earns No. 2 seeding district, will host playoff game

By Todd Martin

A dominating performance against Southern on Friday put the Rockets in a position they haven’t seen in a long time.

After Shelby (7-2, 2-1 in District 4) hammered the Trojans (1-8, 0-3), 55-0, and word came out of Male’s rout of Fern Creek, the Rockets learned they would host a playoff game for the first time since 1995.

They will play host to Seneca on Nov. 6, and earning that game was the motivation kept the Rockets prepared for the hapless Trojans.

“We started out slow [at practice], but Coach [Todd] Shipley got on us,” quarterback Branden Cresap said. “After that we stayed pretty focused because we all want to host a playoff game. It’s been a long time.”

The game went much the same way as the week for the Rockets’ offense.

After fumbling on the first two possessions, the Rockets exploded. Shelby scored on eight straight possessions.

While Cresap was on fire all night – going 16-of-18 for 300 yards and six TDs – the Rockets' defense was as dominant as it has ever been.

Shelby County allowed Southern just 78 total yards on 40 offensive plays and only five first downs.

“We had a lot of confidence in our pass defense, and that we could get pressure on the quarterback,” Shipley said.

Shipley said the defense has been coming on all season, and that the unit has seen improvement each week. But this performance was by far the best.

“We still haven’t had a perfect game yet,” he said. “But I don’t know how much closer we can get than that. Now we just need to do that against better competition.”

The Rockets’ led, 27-0, at the half. Ben Axline got Shelby on the board late in the first quarter with a 15-yard TD reception from Cresap. Axline nearly scored again on a 51-yard punt return, but he fumbled at the goal line, and Jake Whitfill recovered it in the end zone.

Cresap then added 5-yard TD passes to Matt Page and Edwin Thomas to set the score at the half.

“We felt going in that we could kind of choose what we wanted to do,” Shipley said. “It was nice that the weather cleared up and allowed us to throw.”

After two weeks of struggling to throw in the rain, Cresap agreed.

“I hate playing in the rain,” the junior said. “So with a dry ball and pretty good footing, it was a lot nicer this week.

"It was good to get back in the swing of things. The run game has been great the past two weeks, but our passing game has struggled, so it was good to bounce back.”

Cresap picked right back up where he left off in the second half. On the first offensive play, just 19 seconds into the third quarter, Cresap hit Page again, this time for 61 yards and a score.

He added a 21-yard TD pass to Tavis Elzy and another deep ball to Page, 65 yards, in the third quarter.

Quinten Cottrell rounded out the scoring with a 6-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.

The shutout kept Southern winless in and scoreless in the district, and that was something that the team was looking for.

“After Male and Fern Creek shut them out, we wanted to prove we could play with the big dogs, too,” Cresap said complimenting his defense. “They were fantastic tonight [Friday].”

Shipley said the coaches and players were happy with the victory, but they can’t fixate on it.

“Overall, we played pretty good fundamental football,” he said. “But it’s all good teams from here on out, so we need to stay focused.”

The Rockets will look to build off that dominating performance Friday in the regular-season finale at Oldham County.