DANVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) -- The 2018 season began with state championship aspirations, but those dreams were dashed last November in a loss to Corbin in the Class 3A state semifinals.
“I think the whole off-season, we have had that in the back of our mind," said wide receiver Reese Smith. "The seniors took that to heart and it wasn’t the way we ended. We don’t want to go out like that again, so it’s a reminder to us every day. It pushes us and makes us better and fuels us as a team.”
“For me, it humbled me to stay on top of my game every day," said running back Landen Bartleson. "To Grind. To know the simple fact of knowing what we have to do to get back to that spot.”
“When you feel like you had a pretty good team and you didn’t accomplish what you wanted to accomplish, I think the first thing you do as a coach and a group is seniors is you figure out what went wrong," said Boyle County head coach Chuck Smith.
After an off-season of soul-searching, the Rebels answered that question.
“I don’t feel like we were a real close team last year," said Smith. "We weren’t really a family. We were a bunch of talented individuals and if we want to achieve something like that again, then we are going to have to be a family.”
With eight state titles since 1999, Boyle County has dominated Class 3A and now in Class 4A, the Rebels have their eyes on another state title with a roster loaded with talent.
You've got Notre Dame commit Landen Bartleson, West Virginia commit Reese Smith and speedy wideout Reiley Colwick. All of these playmakers are targets for quarterback Reed Lanter.
“It’s nice. We have an experienced team," said Smith. "Lot of guys that are back from last year’s team and that is a good problem to have.”
With talent comes expectations, but these Rebels thrive in the City of Champions.
"You have to be special to play at Boyle County," said Reese Smith. "I think we embrace it and do a good job with it and hopefully we get a state championship."
Boyle County opens the 2019 season against Iroquois at Mercer County High School.