BOWLING GREEN – The 2015 Belfry Pirates became the Class 3A High School Football State Champions for the third year in a row Sunday afternoon after shutting out the Lexington Catholic Knights 43-0 at Western Kentucky University’s L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green.
“That’s how we play, it’s what we believe in. Our style fits our kids and it fits our community because we are a bunch of blue collar people,” said Belfry Pirate Head Coach Phillip Haywood when asked about the unrelenting affect the Pirates offense has on opposing defenses.
“It wears you down, it will get you tired and frustrated. We push and we don’t let up. We will execute our game plan and be patient,” added Haywood.
The Belfry Pirate offense did exactly that. In the first half, the Pirates scored 36 unanswered points and instituted the running clock rule as a tip of the hat to the other sideline. They executed every play with precision scoring on every first half possession. The Pirates scored five rushing touchdowns in the first half; four short yardage touchdowns and one 56-yard eat my dust run by none other than “Mr. Lightning Bolt” – Xondre Willis.
To put the icing on the cake, with 27 seconds left to play before halftime, Derek Wellman punched in a 5-yard touchdown and the Pirates switched gears and went for the two point conversion; which Wellman scored as well, just in case Lexington Catholic didn’t get the memo that the Pirates were in complete control of the game.
Lexington Catholic failed to meet Belfry on the Pirates level of physicality. The Pirates ran, tackled, and blocked as well as they possibly could on every play. The Pirates wanted the win more than the Knights and played with pure tenacity. The Pirate defense held Lexington Catholic to only 34-yards rushing and 71-yards passing. The Lexington Catholic Knights attempted 22 passes and completed 11 passes for under 100-yards and zero scores. The Pirate offense is usually the star of the show since Belfry averages around 400 rushing yards a game, but the age old adage that defense wins championships is pure truth.
However, the Pirate offense did not disappoint by finishing the night with 394-yards rushing on 54 carries. The Pirates gained 13 rushing first downs and scored six total rushing touchdowns during the game. Quarterback Noah Corbett attempted one pass all game, but the pass fell incomplete.
The Pirates won the coin toss at the start of the game and chose to defer to the second half giving the Knights the ball to start off the game. The Pirate defense forced Lexington Catholic to punt on their first possession and the Pirates went to work on offense. The Pirates triple option offense was flawless and they moved the ball diligently down the field. Belfry fullback Andrew Fletcher crossed the goal line first on a 6-yard dive play at the 4:22 mark of the first quarter. Austin Woolum added the extra point and the Pirates took the lead and never looked back.
Derek Wellman rushed in the second touchdown for the Pirates with 50 seconds left to play in the first quarter, Woolum nailed the extra point and the Pirates finished the first quarter with a 14-0 lead over Lexington Catholic. The Knights fired back when Andy Thompson returned the Pirates kickoff through coverage and down the right sideline for a 60-yard return. The Pirate defense took over and stopped the Knights offensive drive quickly. On Belfry’s next possession, Willis scored on a 56-yard dash to start the second quarter scoring at the 10:34 mark. Woolum made the extra point and the Pirates increased the lead to 21 points.
With 4:34 left to play before halftime, Corbett rushed in another touchdown for the Pirates from 1-yard out, Woolum added the extra point and the Pirates really started to run away with the ballgame and a 28 point lead. The Pirates would score twice more in the game; Wellman scored his second touchdown which led to the Pirates instating the running clock rule and Fletcher scored his second touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the final score 43-0. During the third quarter there was a collision between Austin Woolum and a Lexington Catholic player that left both players injured, Woolum would not return to the game because of his injury and Blake Mendoza took over the kicking duties for the Pirates and made the final extra point. Woolum finished a stellar season after making 70 total extra points and five field goals.
Defensive leader, Nate Sanger, led the Pirates in tackles with eight total tackles, Devin Varney finished with seven total tackles and Wellman added six tackles. The entire Pirate defense should be commended for the outstanding effort they displayed.
Haywood said, “We knew that if we just keep doing what we do, eventually good things will happen. When you believe in yourself and believe in your teammates, everything falls into place.”
After the final buzzer sounded, the Pirates stormed the field and Pond Creek Nation filled the stadium with prideful cheers. Fletcher was awarded the 2015 Russel Athletics/ KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl’s Most Valuable Player of the game award. The Pirates held the Class 3A state Championship trophy overhead and basked in the knowledge that whatever the future holds for this amazing group of players they will have comfort in knowing they played one game in their life to complete perfection.
Score by quarters:
Belfry: 14 22 0 7 – 43
Lex. Cath: 0 0 0 0 -0
(William Plaster is the sports reporter at the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext.2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)