GOODY, Ky. – The 2015 Belfry Pirates are heading into their sixth Class 3A championship game appearance in six seasons. The Pirates will face a solid Lexington Catholic team who deserve just as much credit as the Pirates to take the field at Western Kentucky University on Sunday.
A lot can be said about the Pirates amazing 2015 season, the run heavy offense has blown past the majority of opposing defenses with star running back Xondre Willis leading the way. The defense has kept opposing offenses to a minimal 202 points throughout the season. The only loss recorded this season was against West Virginia powerhouse Cabell Midland. The Pirates haven’t shown many weaknesses because of the team’s ability to compensate and band together.
The list of accolades stretches as far as the roster. The question that comes to mind is what makes the Belfry football program so good? What makes the Pirates the cream of the crop in Class 3A Kentucky football? One answer is the one that is always overlooked. For every touchdown scored, there was multitude of hard work that made it happen. For every yard gained and every pass caught, one underlying and unnoticed variable made it happen. The answer is the offensive line.
The Pirates strive to obtain the best offensive line in the state every year, and the results are evident. It’s easy to overlook this aspect when the Pirates prolific offense produces so many points and highlights per game.
Meet the 2015 Belfry Pirates starting offensive line; Cole Bently, Austin Dotson, Caleb Whitt, Jordan Scott, Brayden Preece, and Austin Gibbs. These six players are the foundation that makes the Pirates run heavy and high scoring offense work.
Offensive line coach Anthony Tackett said, “It’s been a long grind and we have been after them since Dec. 5. Of last year when the season ended. From that point until now we have been pushing, because it’s always our goal to have the best offensive line in the state. That’s our goal and we don’t always reach that goal but that is exactly what we push for everyday, every practice, every year.”
These kids are tough. They don’t get a lot of pats on the back or praise and we are tough on them. We keep high expectations for them and they know it; we push them and they want pushed. They are unselfish and a very easy group to coach, their mentality is always about winning; they don’t play for credit, they play to win. That’s the great thing about this particular group. It is just Belfry tradition,” added Tackett.
The Pirate offensive line has grown to the caliber they are now because of constant fundamental coaching. The Belfry football program grows fundamentally exceptional athletes and that starts at a young age. There are numerous camps and training events surrounding the Belfry football program that gives athletes a chance to build off of the fundamentals.
Sunday, the Belfry offensive line hopes to be at their best in order to allow the offense to perform at the level that will bring home another championship title. Junior lineman Jordan Scott said, “I feel good about the game coming up, we have all worked very hard to prepare for this game and feel like we are there as a team, our coaches push us hard but I feel ready.”
Right tackle, Austin Dotson said, “The offensive line has worked hard all week to prepare, the whole team has worked great together. We have to play as one; that’s what coach always says, and if we play like that then we will be alright on Sunday.”
Junior split guard, Caleb Whitt, said, “We have to play as a team; play together. We have to be precise and focused, if we do that and play as hard as we can; we will be alright.”
Team Captain Austin Gibbs, has been a leader on the Belfry team throughout the entire 2015 season. “We will have to go out there and play with heart; we have worked hard all season for this opportunity. If we play like I know we can then all the hard work and preparation will be worth it.”
Center Brayden Preece said, “We have to play with no regrets, I am proud to have this opportunity; this feels like my greatest accomplishment. This is what I dreamed of as a kid and I want to make everyone proud.”
With over 4,200-yards rushing this season the Belfry offensive line can take credit in knowing they made it happen. The 527 points scored this season is a testament to the hard work and dedication of a certain group who play for the team and not for themselves.
Head Coach Phillip Haywood said, “It’s been a real pleasure to work with this group. I think they have improved tremendously since the first of the year. It’s hard to single any individual out, we stay very team oriented. We have great individual players but the team is our focus. They play well as a team, they all like each other and get along really well. They have stuck together through the ups and downs over the course of the year and still came together to play pretty good football and hopefully we can play well on Sunday.”
The Belfry Pirates will leave Saturday and travel west for another championship game to be played on Sunday. Many different aspects surround the program; the fans, the school, the colors, the players, the coaches, the loyalty and everything comes together to make Pond Creek Nation what it is. It is something to be proud of.