Rebels look for upset in first round of playoffs

New Era file photo

Todd County Central's JaTwan Graham carries the ball during the Rebels contest against Hopkins County Central earlier this year.

At the beginning of the year, Todd County Central head coach Darell Keith had the contest against Owensboro Catholic on the calendar circled.

While the Rebels fell 48-24 against the Aces earlier this season, Keith and his team get another shot.

Todd County will open the KHSAA playoffs against the Aces Friday on the road, looking to avenge the loss from late September.

"What I told my team was when O'Cath comes to play they expect to win. When we came to play we thought we could win. That was the difference (earlier in the season)," Keith said. "As soon as we had some adversity, some of our kids quit because they've never been there before -- it was new territory. I think that won't be an issue this time. I think they will fight all four quarters."

Keith believes O'Cath is vulnerable. Coming off a regular-season finale loss to Apollo, he said the playing field is even as it can get.

"I think they got some injuries just like we do," he said. "I think it'll be an even playing field. We're still a predominant running football team, but we can throw the ball a little bit and we've worked on our passing defense. I think we've got a pretty good chance."

Keith has been at the head of a change of culture in Elkton. After a 5-0 start to the season, the Rebels dropped four of their last five contests.

He said the regular season is behind them and is focused on coming out and giving O'Cath everything it can handle.

"I wanted to know just how many people wanted to finish the season out strong," Keith said. "We said that 6-4 is respectable. We wanted to do a whole lot better. We thought we would at least go 8-2. We got rid of the 6-4 season -- we're 0-0.

"We're going to come out and play O'Cath as hard as we possibly can. Let the chips fall and leave with no regrets."

Keith said he had a message to his seniors heading into what could be their final game in Todd County uniforms.

"This is what I told my seniors. I said 'No matter what happens Friday night, you'll never play in the first round of the playoffs ever again; how do you want to be remembered?'" Keith said. "I want my team to do one thing. Lay it all on the line. Give it everything you've got.

"I always tell my kids this. Sometimes guts and toughness is enough. Toughness is a talent. I know they're well-coached, I know they have better athletes at most spots than we do, but are they tougher than us?"

Defeating the Aces will be a tall task for the Rebels, as O'Cath enters the playoffs with an 8-2 record and the top seed in Class 2A, District 1.

Keith said there are three things that regardless of the result, he wants his team to show on Friday night in Owensboro.

"Consistency, determination, and guts. That's what I want to see," Keith said. "I want them to be consistent in their play, I want them to be determined, and I want them to have pure guts throughout the duration of the game no matter what happens."

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