3 regional titles make a very good year

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By John Herndon

Today, June 25, is that day many high school coaches have had circled on their calendars since, oh, about this time last year.

Vacation time!

OK, it's the start of the dead period, mandated by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

From now until July 9, high school athletic programs in the state are shut down, for all practical purposes. Athletes are off limits to coaches. Facilities are off limits to the players, for the most part, and it is just a good time for everyone to take the break for which the rule was enacted.

And, even though the last state champions – Scott County softball and St. Xavier baseball – were crowned back on June 7, it is kind of a transition time from one scholastic sports year to another.

With that, it's also time to look back on a banner year in Anderson County sports and speculate on what lies ahead.

Overall, there could be a good argument that the 2013-2014 school year was the best ever in Anderson County sports. Now, before someone goes haywire, let it be said that 2008 and 2009 were mighty good and when you go back over the years, there were other great ones.

Many veteran fans will point to 1963-64 when the Anderson football team was one of the state's best in those days long before the expanded playoffs and the girls' track team won a state championship. It remains the only state high school title in Anderson County history.

But the bottom line is that in 2013-14, Anderson County teams won three regional championships: Football, girls' basketball and softball. As far as I can tell, that feat is unmatched in the history of the school, which dates to 1949.

The boys' golf team was also a regional runner-up and the baseball team might have been a rainout or one key hit from not only winning the region, but going deep into the state tournament.

Even with the great year, there were countless “what-ifs.” What if the football team had been able to contain Pulaski County quarterback Riley Hall on a fourth-and-13 situation? He ran for 20 yards, then threw a touchdown pass with 46 seconds to play, giving Pulaski a 20-17 win over the Bearcats in the state semifinals.

What if Anderson girls' basketball had gotten any other draw at the state tournament. The Lady Bearcats did advance to the second round, but ran into a match-up nightmare against top-ranked Elizabethtown.

What if lightning had not suspended the semi-final round of the Eighth Region Baseball Tournament? Simon Kenton would have been without its ace, Sean Lawrence, for the regional final. Instead, he came back after the delay and held the Bearcats in check. Would Anderson have beaten Simon Kenton and gone on the same run to the state finals like the Pioneers did?

It was a fantastic year but was only a handful of key plays from jumping into the realm of the incredible. I just hope those kids who were involved, even if that involvement was limited to fandom, will look back 10 years from now and realize just how special the just completed year was.

What about 2014-15?

For starters, I am not going to predict it will be better. Just like Anderson was a play or two here or there from even more accolades, the teams were a play or two away from seeing the season end earlier in boys' golf, football and softball. So enjoy the memory.

Looking ahead, the upcoming year could also be one for the scrapbooks.

Anderson football will be replacing some key seniors but still has more talent returning than any other team in its region. Anderson basketball teams, both boys and girls, should be among the teams with legitimate shots at regional titles.

Anderson baseball should be strong and it is not inconceivable to think Lady Bearcat softball will be among the state's Top 10 come next March.

It could be that 2014-15 will be even better than the just completed school year.

And that is another reason to put your team's dates on your calendar.