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Pity was locked out around Anderson County football during fall break.
The Bearcats wanted none of it after seeing a district championship fly right by them at Franklin County the week before.
“We couldn't have a pity party,” said Anderson running back Granville Hayes, a senior.
No pity. Not for the Bearcats. Not on an East Jessamine team desperately fighting for its playoff life.
Hayes and Ross Cox both scored four touchdowns in a 63-19 romp that clinched the No. 2 seed in Class 5A, District 6 for the Bearcats. It is the sixth consecutive season Anderson has earned the right to host a first-round playoff game.
“We were all mad (about losing to Franklin County) and we came out ready to play this week,” said senior Zach Kearns, like Hayes, a team captain.
Anderson was efficient in taking control, then exploded for 35 second quarter points on the way to handing East Jessamine one of the worst defeats in the program's history. According to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association website, the 63 points equal the most put up on the Jaguars since 1998, when the association started publishing results. The final 44-point margin was last surpassed in the 2010 playoffs, when eventual state champion Boyle County put a 45-point whipping on East Jessamine.
While Anderson had been a solid favorite, such a white-washing had not been expected. Especially following the heartbreaking loss at Franklin County the week before.
“What you have to do is put the past in the past,” said Anderson coach Mark Peach, now in his eighth season at Anderson. “I was so proud of our staff. I think this might have been the best coaching job we have done since we have been together. Not just in terms of the plan but in terms of preparation. We didn't coddle the kids and we wanted to keep their expectations high.”
East Jessamine struck early when quarterback Ronnie Carson lofted a 46-yard scoring pass to Hayden Tatman just over three minutes in. Some razzle-dazzle in the conversion attempt failed, which might have been more prophetic than the touchdown.
By the time East Jessamine managed as much as another first down, Anderson had built a 21-6 lead and looked to be just getting warmed up.
“We came out on fire,” said senior Austin Hall, another captain. “We kept it up the whole game.'
Anderson needed just 35 seconds to take the lead, covering 59 yards in four plays. Quarterback Zachary Carmichael sneaked in from a yard out and had connected with receiver Dusty Puckett for a 28-yard pickup to highlight the drive. Joe Rose tacked on the extra point to give Anderson the lead for good.
Rose was perfect on nine point-after attempts. He has not missed in 43 tries this year.
After forcing a punt, the Bearcats needed 3:54 to score again. Hayes found paydirt from a yard out to make it 14-6. The drive might have been highlighted by a routine pass turned spectacular when Carmichael hit Hall across the middle on a third-down pass. Despite having three Jaguars hanging on, Hall managed to keep the chains moving.
It was the Bearcats' longest march before the clock kept running in the fourth quarter when Anderson had built a 51-point lead.
Hayes would later score on runs of 7 and 3 yards and take a short pass from Carmichael to the house from 32 yards out.
Cox, Anderson's big play threat all season, got on the board with a 4-yard run that capped a 50-yard drive that had been set up when he forced East Jessamine's Kahnen Leslie to fumble at mid-field. Huston Page pounced on the ball and the rout was on.
Cox later scored from 5 yards and caught a 24-yard pass from Carmichael that put Anderson up 49-12 just before halftime.
Anderson had appeared to stall, but on fourth-and-7, Cox was the loneliest person at Warford Stadium when Carmichael found him in the end zone. Cox had set that one up as well, when he picked off a Carson pass and returned it to the East Jessamine 49.
Cox also scored on a 28-yard pass from Carmichael midway through the third quarter.
“We are maturing and we are jelling at the right time,” Peach said. “If we can continue at that level and continue to be coachable and get better, we have a shot to win the region.”
Peach had admittedly been concerned about his team, but those fears were dispelled when the Bearcats reported for practice last Monday.
“We challenged the guys to a man to do your job,” he said. “We are not going to ask you to do something you can't do. We ask you to do your job the best you can and at the highest level you can. I thought to a person, we did that. I thought our seniors did a tremendous job this week. They set the tone for what we wanted to accomplish in our practice and preparation.
“The performance we had tonight is a tribute to our kids.”
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