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Rockets take District title, 37-20 over Indians

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By Todd Martin

While the Shelby County High School football team's offense continues to roll up yards, the Rockets' defense has started to shut down opponents in the second half of playoff games.

Leading Madison Central 17-14 at halftime Friday, the Rockets (8-4) outscored the Indians 20-0 in the third quarter to put the game away. The defense allowed a meaningless touchdown late in the fourth quarter to set the final score at 37-20, but allowed less than 60 yards of offense to Madison Central in the second half alone.

"You've got to take your hat off to our defense," SCHS quarterback Alex Matthews said. "To give up only 20 points, and just six in the second half -- they played a fantastic game."

Madison Central (7-5) gained just 271 total yards of offense in the game.

"We're just getting better," SCHS head coach Todd Shipley said. "The guys have continued to keep working. We told them it's not where you start, but where you end up, and I think we've ended up playing pretty strong."

The Rockets have struggled in the third quarter this year. In the previous 11 games, Shelby County had been outscored 87-59 in the third, but the Rockets came out of the half fired up against Madison Central, outscoring the home team 20-0.

"Maybe I'm giving better speeches," Shipley joked. "But really the guys just have to believe in what we're doing and keep doing it. I think the guys are coming out focused and our linebackers are playing better, our defensive line is playing better."

While they didn't put up any state records, Matthews and Jordan Burk continued their aerial assault. The two connected 12 times this week -- topping Burk's 11 catches last week -- for a whopping 259 yards and one touchdown.

Matthews was 30-46 in the game for 493 yards and four scores.

"It just amazes me that people are still playing (Burk) one-on-one," Shipley said. "It's fine with me, but ... I think it has something to do with the guys (Coty Minnis, Kyle Marston, Otheus Beach and Matt Page) on the other side. What are teams going to do, leave somebody else open and double Burk?"

Marston had six catches for 95 yards, Minnis had four catches for 68 and two TDs and Page had three catches for 47 and a TD.

"I didn't think we were very crisp on offense or defense in the first half, but we put it all together in the second," Shipley said. "I thought we put together a full half of football and the guys have a lot of confidence right now."

That confidence, which started in the team's wins over South Oldham and Oldham County, is fueling the Rockets'. Shelby County went from 0-3 in district play to district champs Friday.

"I didn't surprise me -- the rest of the state maybe, but it was no surprise us," Matthews said. "We knew we were better than Madison Central, we just had to come out and show it."

Shipley said he wasn't surprised at the team's playoff surge through district either.

"There was no question that we could do it -- we knew we could," he said. "(During the regular season) we played horrible against George Rogers Clark, the Scott County game could've gone either way and Alex got hurt against Madison Central. The only question was, 'Would we step it up defensively in the playoffs?' We knew if we could get on a roll and get some confidence we could win. The kids are believing right now and we're playing pretty darn well."

Boone County

The Rockets will travel to Boone County this week for the state Class 6A quarterfinals. Boone County (9-3) is the No. 1 seed from District 6, and beat No. 2-seeded Ryle 27-17 Friday. The Rebels are led by running back Cory Farris who has 2,485 yards rushing (207 yards per game) and 26 TDs on the season.

Directions to the game can be picked up at SJB Sports Legends on Main Street.