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TAYLOR MILL – South Oldham’s road to the Class 5A, District 5 title was filled with four distinct tests.
The Dragons had to best Kentucky quarterback commit Drew Barker and Conner Sept. 27, avoid a letdown against Grant County Oct. 4, beat defending state runner-up Cooper Oct. 11 and stop undefeated Scott’s powerful run game Friday at Eagle Stadium.
South passed the last of those four exams Friday, taking down the Eagles 30-20 and clinching the school’s first outright district title in the process.
“(Going 4-0 in district play) is one of the main goals besides state championship and county championship,” said linebacker Connor John, who had a team-high nine tackles Friday. “District is a big thing and we got it done tonight.”
Technically the Dragons (6-3, 4-0 district) already had one district crown to their name. That came last year, when South, Cooper and Conner all went 3-1 in district play, thus splitting the title.
But until Friday, the Dragons had never won a district championship to themselves. Winning the district means South will be guaranteed home games for at least the first two playoff rounds. South will likely host West Jessamine or Woodford County in the first round of the playoffs Nov. 8.
“I tell you what, it’s huge,” coach Jamie Reed said. “Preseason picked No. 3, we had some question marks there, losing (graduated quarterback) Jack Sherry and some of the other guys we lost.
“I think this is a team that no one really gave a lot of credence to… So, we’re really proud tonight.”
Offensively, all four touchdowns came on touchdown passes from Chase Lightfoot to Davis Culbertson.
Lightfoot hit Culbertson with a 23 yard over-the-shoulder throw in the first quarter to tie the game, 7-7.
After Scott’s Josh Castleman ran for his second touchdown of the game early in the second quarter, Lightfoot found Culbertson on a 28-yard score to tie the game at 14.
“Those guys are superior, man,” Reed said of Lightfoot and Culbertson. “They have such great timing.
“They’re best friends off the field. Some of those things we run, I think it’s them. They’ve talked about it on the bus ride, they talk about it at home, some of the adjustments they make.”
Their third touchdown connection came in the fourth quarter, trailing 20-17 just minutes after Culbertson lost what would’ve been a go-ahead touchdown catch in the lights.
With a first down at the Eagle 35, Lightfoot hit Culbertson 10 yards downfield on a simple curl route.
“I caught it and I knew the (Scott cornerback) was going to be on the inside because he was the whole game,” Culbertson said. “So I turned inside, then I broke back out real quick. I just tried to out-run him.”
Culbertson sprinted 25 yards after the catch down the sideline to score the touchdown that put South up 24-20 with 6:50 to play.
Scott (7-1, 2-1) had a chance to re-take the lead, getting into the Dragon red zone on its next possession. But John stuffed Castleman on a 4th and 7 run, turning the ball back over to South.
Two plays later, on a 3rd and 14 at his own 18, Lightfoot delivered the dagger, hitting Culbertson on an 82-yard touchdown pass to put the Dragons up 30-20 with 3:12 to play. On that play Culbertson faked the curl route he’d scored on a drive earlier, getting the cornerback to come up on the fake before running past him.
“He came up and bit hard and I just took off,” Culbertson said. “Chase put it right on me.”
Lightfoot finished 9-for-17 for 236 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions
Culbertson hauled six catches for 179 yards and four touchdowns. Ticorion Williams, with 85 yards on seven carries, was Dragons’ leading rusher.
The South defense, which gave up three rushing touchdowns in the first half, finished a second half shutout to preserve the win.
“Today, especially defensively, that was the best game we’ve had,” John said. “We played a great opponent… and we just did a great job with our assignments. We really didn’t make any mistakes. I think it was our greatest game yet, defensively.”
Overall the Dragons gave up 253 rushing yards, holding Scott under its 329 yard per game rushing average.
“We made a couple of changes at halftime, getting us out and stopping them at the edge more,” said Daniel Young, who finished with eight tackles. “That’s where their big rushes were the first half and that’s pretty much where we shut them down the second half.”
South has a bye this week before finishing the regular season Nov. 1 at home vs. Bullitt Central.
From there it’ll be onto the playoffs, where Reed said he hopes his team builds on an already historic season.
“We’re certainly proud of this,” Reed said. “But we hope to be not done now.”
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