'The Team Up North' reminds undefeated upstart what its name is

Frederick Douglass coaches and players have consistently referred to Scott County as “The Team Up North” in the program’s two years of existence as a way to demystify the Cardinals’ dominance among Central Kentucky football teams.

A rose by any other name is still a rose: Scott County defeated the Broncos, 28-27, in the second round of the Class 6A KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl playoffs Friday night in Lexington.

The Cardinals will travel to Simon Kenton next week in a region championship game, their 11th appearance in that round over the last 12 seasons. Douglass (12-1) was eliminated after suffering its only loss of the season and its first home loss in program history.

“It felt like a second-round game to us,” Scott County Coach Jim McKee said. “They have a good team and I know they’re bitterly disappointed because they have such a great collection of talent, and it still wasn’t enough tonight.”

Austin Barnett and Bronson Brown combined for nearly 300 yards to lead the Cardinals. Barnett had 164 yards and a TD — the game’s first — while Brown rushed 18 times for 119 yards and three scores, including a 10-yard go-ahead run with 5:48 remaining in the game.

Frederick Douglass pulled to within 28-27 on a 7-yard scamper and dive by Montaveon Bean with 2:25 to play but opted to go for a two-point conversion out of a timeout. Bean connected with Dekel Crowdus in the corner of the end zone but the latter was ruled out of bounds on the play.

Douglass again had a chance to win the game after forcing a three-and-out and receiving a short Scott County punt with 1:19 left. The Broncos got to Scott County’s 22-yard line but the Cardinals came up with their second sack of the night to force third-and-13. Cam Jones couldn’t connect but did hit Haiden Hunt on fourth-and-13, but Hunt was able to gain only 11 yards before Tasian Stakelin drove him out of bounds to bring Scott County into the victory alignment.

Jones was 19-of-28 for 180 yards and one TD pass. The Cincinnati commit finished his career with 10,242 passing yards (ninth in KHSAA history) and 107 career TD passes (10th all-time).

Damarco Fishback had 172 yards and two TDs on 14 carries for Douglass. He ended his senior season with 1,296 yards and 22 TDs.

McKee felt like the game was never too big for Scott County, which now will probably be favored to make the Class 6A finals.

“To be honest with you, at times, I thought the game was probably a little too big for them,” McKee said. “They were hollering and carrying on in warm-ups, and just, I don’t know if they realize it, but I’ve always said if the big dog’s asleep, let him sleep. … They had a lot of momentum in the second half at times and I’m really proud of how we responded. Again, it goes back to, talent will take you a certain place and, this is such a culture for these guys.”

Douglass earlier this season defeated Scott County, 28-10, to lock the Cardinals into a No. 3 seed in the postseason. Scott County now is the only team still playing among those in Class 6A’s 7th District.

The Cardinals are 3-1 against Douglass in their four meetings all-time. The teams will remain in the same district when they both move down to Class 5A next season.

It remains to be seen if the Broncos will call Scott County by its given name.

“They don’t want us to call them the East Central Kentucky Select Broncos, do they?,” McKee said. “I think just the constant needling really wore on some of our guys. I didn’t even pay much attention to it but I started hearing it from some of our guys, and I felt like we really made a statement on the opening drive.”