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While the Shelby County football team's defense has improved in the playoffs, a punishing rushing game has been the Rockets' Achilles heel all year.
SCHS will find out exactly how much the defense has improved tonight when the Rockets face Boone County, which boasts the Class 6A leading rusher. Cory Farris averaged 225 yards a game in the regular season. That average has dipped to 207 since the playoffs began, but that does not mean that slowing him down has become any easier.
"I don't know what we can do to stop him," SCHS head coach Todd Shipley said. "We'll just have to send a lot of people at him. Boone County does a fantastic job run blocking. They're as good at run blocking as we are at pass blocking. Plus, Farris is explosive. In the first game of the season he took the opening play to the house against Scott County. Every time he touches the ball you hold your breath."
Farris has not slowed down since that first carry. Through 12 games he has amassed 2,485 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns making him the state's third leading scorer at more than two touchdowns a game.
However, the Rebels (9-3) have not seen a passing game like Shelby County's (8-4) either. Boone County has allowed just 1,318 passing yards this season, SCHS quarterback Alex Matthews has thrown for 1,014 yards in the last two games-- 3,893 yards on the season -- and led Class 6A with 319.9 yards per game during the regular season.
"The only spread team they've seen was Henry Clay, but they run the option and run the ball a lot more than we do," Shipley said of Boone County preparing for the Rockets. "They'll probably use what they did in that Henry Clay game change it some. At least we've played some teams that ran the ball like Scott County, North Bullitt and Manual runs and throws well."
Shipley knows that Farris will get yards in the game, but the key could be quarterback Shawn Bogle.
"The guy nobody is talking about is the quarterback (Bogle)," the coach said. "He runs the ball well and throws the ball well, he's the X-factor. If we're able to slow Farris down -- not stop him, but just keep him below 200 yards -- and (Bogle) can throw the ball, then it's going to be a heck of a game."
Several 6A leaders will be in the game. Along with Matthews, the Rockets also have the state's leading receiver in Jordan Burk (79 catches for 1,683 yards in 12 games, an average of 140 yards per game) and SCHS receiver Coty Minnis is just behind Farris in scoring with 10 points per game.
Boone County was by far 6A's top rushing team, averaging 324 yards per game, while the Rockets were the class's No. 1 passing team with 339.3 yards per game, nearly 70 yards more than second place Trinity.
"This game could be a shootout," Shipley said. "At least it will be exciting."
The most interesting facet of the game will be how Boone County decides to attack the Rocket offense. The Rebels have allowed just 18.5 points per game this year, while Shelby County has averaged 37.7, including topping 40 points six times and 50 or more on three different occasions.
If you're going
Directions to Boone County High School at 7056 Burlington Pike in Florence. According to Mapquest.com the trip is 78 miles, or about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Take Ky. 55 north toward Eminence
Turn left onto U.S. 421 toward Campbellsburg
Turn right onto I-71N
Take exit 181 (Ky. 18 toward Florence/Burlington), and turn right onto Ky. 18/Burlington Pike
The school will be about one mile down Burlington Pike.