KHSAA State Football Playoffs: South Oldham hopes to get over second round hump against Fairdale

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By Elliott Pratt

CRESTWOOD — South Oldham coach Jamie Reed wore light khakis during the Dragons’ eight game win streak in the regular season. He wore the same when the team lost its last regular season game against Shelby County.

So when the playoffs started last Friday against Southern, he brought out the dark khakis and the Dragons’ won.

The point?

Any superstitions one may have for a football team’s success are null and void when it comes to the second round of the playoffs.

No more Cinderella stories in the second round. No more teams that just snuck in the playoffs. No more superstitions. It’s a district’s No. 1 vs. another district’s No. 2. 

That’s exactly the case for this Friday when South Oldham hosts Fairdale in the second round of the KHSAA State Playoffs at Dragon Stadium.

The second round has represented the end for the Dragons the last three years. Some may call it a second-round curse, but Reed has other ideas.

“Obviously, we’ve not had success in the second round, but I don’t think we’re destined to not have success in the second round,” Reed said. “We don’t worry about a dadgum curse. We just go out and play our best…In the times we’ve lost before, they played better than we did that night. I certainly don’t think there’s a curse associated with it.”

The last two seasons, the Dragons have lost by just one score in the second round and haven’t made it past the second round since making the state semifinals in 1992.

In 2014, South lost to Anderson County at home 42-38 at the hand of four fumbles. In 2013, the Dragons lost 27-21 to Franklin County and three years ago they lost by three touchdowns to Cooper.

“We’re not trying to talk about it much,” senior TJ Kormanis said. “It’s a new team with new goals. We’ve already exceeded expectations so hopefully we can keep striving and grinding and make it through to next Friday.”

South hosts a Fairdale team that boasts a 7-4 record after handling Bullitt East 53-6 last Friday night, the same team South beat 41-0 in regular season district play.

The Bulldogs started the year out 1-4 where they suffered running clock losses to DeSales (42-6) and Male (64-6).

Fairdale won the last five regular season games and averages 30 points per game.

Against Bullitt East, the Bulldogs put up 437 yards of offense led by quarterback Dylan Garcia, running back Max Cole and wide receiver Jaylain Trotter.

“They run a pretty balanced offense,” Kormanis said. “The quarterback can toss the rock around. I think our defense will be fine against them.”

South’s defense settled down well in the 35-20 win over Southern last Friday after an initial fight from the Trojans in the first half. Reed called Southern the fastest team the Dragons had seen all year and said it was to be expected in the playoffs when they play Jefferson County schools.

Though Fairdale falls in the category, the coach says the Bulldogs play a little differently.

“They’re a quality opponent,” Reed said. “I think the good thing is they’re very similar to us…they’re set up more like a county school. They have some good athletes, surely, but I don’t think they’re going to have the same dynamic athletes as we saw last Friday night. They do have some really good, solid players in all key positions.”

Fairdale QB Garcia threw for 186 yards on eight completions against Bullitt East last week and has a 53 percent completion percentage on the year.

Reed noted that while most of the spread offense teams they’ve faced this year focus on running the ball, Fairdale will rely more on the pass game.

Fairdale coach Matt Wright told The Courier-Journal earlier this week that South’s defense, which still ranks second in the state in Class 5-A, will be tough to move past.

“They’re very sound in what they do,” Wright told The Courier-Journal. “Momentum is the big thing. I see the points that they’re putting up and they’re not giving up a whole lot of points. Getting up early and making them play from behind will be a huge thing for us.”

South’s defense has allowed just one touchdown in the second half in the past two contests after the opposing team comes out to score quickly in the first half.

Senior defensive end Scott Vanderventer hopes the Dragons’ defense can prevent that first half jump.

“We’re pretty good against the pass rush,” Vanderventer said. “Hopefully we can keep him in the pocket and dominate.”


Numbers to watch:


Zaubi is 26 passing yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard mark this season. Senior fullback Shane Wilson is also 29 yards away from the 1,000-yard rushing mark.


Email us about this story at sports@oldhamera.com.