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Principal's phone call started Bearcats' football resurgence

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By John Herndon

Hey, Ray Woodyard! Ya done good!

Now please dont send this on to the English department at Anderson County High School, where you are principal. Just let us enjoy the moment, or maybe the current football season, which ain't over yet.

Forget all those grammatical rules right now. Just let us enjoy all this.

Let us enjoy a fall that we felt had the potential to be some fun. We even expected some sort of playoff berth, if for no other reason than your school was going from an 8-team district to one with just five opponents. Since none of the new foes happened to be Lexington Catholic, Danville or any of the other nemeses that have beaten up on the Bearcats over the years, we kind of did a little math. We figured that surely they could win a game or two in the district and get a playoff berth.

We thought 7-3 or 8-2 would sound a lot better than the 6-4 record of 2006.

A regular season district championship? Maybe, if everything broke right.

A perfect regular season? Seeing that a lot of good football teams at Anderson County and other schools don't achieve perfection, that one barely crossed our minds.

These Bearcats have done mighty good because ya done reaaallllll gooooood not quite three years back when you lured Mark Peach to come home and restore Bearcat football.

There were people (blush) that were really worried about who you would bring in to lead the Bearcats. We knew there were some big names out there that might, repeat, might take the challenge. But we also knew that high school coaching, no matter what the sport, usually requires that the person be adept in the classroom. Putting those aspects of the job together is not as easy as it seems.

We also know that having a faculty member who can make a student proficient in using the Pythagorean Theorem or understand the eccentric writings of e.e. cummings has more meaning to the State Board of Education than any won-loss record. But we also know that more of us prefer talking about yards per game and reading Rick Reilly.

Nothing wrong with that. It's just how we are.

And three years ago, you understood that when you picked up the phone and called a suddenly unemployed football coach who had led Campbellsville University to a national ranking. It just so happens that that coach, Peach, was one of the all-time great linemen at Anderson County High School.

And it just so happened that he had coached Lexington's Dunbar High to consecutive state semi-final appearances when the principal there was one Ray Woodyard.

Sure, the call was a no-brainer. Some would even say that the ball fell in Anderson's lap, but you know that hiring a coach isn't that simple.

The ball might have fallen in your lap, but you didn't drop it. You made the call and asked Mark, "Are you ready to come home and are you ready to work for me again?"

Whether Peach would have come home under other circumstances, we will never know. What we do know is that Peach acknowledged the improbable turn of Bearcat football with by saying, "Mr. Woodyard had a lot to do with it."

The most visible hire of your tenure as Anderson principal has created community excitement not seen in Lawrenceburg since the basketball Bearcats were ranked in the state's top 10 and went to the Sweet 16 a decade ago.

People care. They care about football, not just because it is the game on Friday night. It's more than just the odd-shaped ball or big hits.

These are our kids. We've watched many of them grow up. We gave them Kool-Aid and cookies. We know their parents.

And we have seen them become successful when many said success could not be had anymore.

Those kids have seen what hard work and a positive attitude can do and hopefully, they will carry that over into the real world in a few years. "Coach Peach is always so enthusiastic," senior Steven Heilman said a few minutes after the regular season had ended Friday.

"You see him at school walking the halls. Hes always so pumped up."

That was the catalyst. Ray Woodyard had seen it in Lexington at Dunbar, which has not been able to match the success it had under Peach since he left for Campbellsville.

We've seen a group of kids bring a community together again.

They have done it through hard work and an unwavering belief that dreams really can come true.

Mark Peach brought that out in them.

But it would have never happened had Ray Woodyard not made that call three years ago.

Thanks, Ray.

Ya done better than good. You did great.