Dixie Heights football coach Dave Brossart knows his Colonels are going up against more than just another high school team Saturday when they kick off against Louisville Trinity in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Class 6A state championship at 7 p.m. The Shamrocks are tied with Highlands for the most titles in state history with 22, and are the gold standard when it comes to producing football talent within the Bluegrass state.
“Believing you can beat them,” Brossart said when asked what the key is to beating Trinity. “Not getting caught up in the hype and the fact that they have 22 state championships. It’s the reason people bow down to Highlands week in and week out. There’s something mythical about going to Fort Thomas. There’s something mythical about playing your Louisville Trinitys or St. X’s or Moellers in Cincinnati. You have to be mentally tough.”
“Nine-nine percent of the media and high school fans out there are going to say that we can’t get it done. That’s not because they don’t believe in us, but it’s just the facts – they’re Trinity and we’re Dixie Heights. We haven’t seen that before.”
If Brossart’s players are worried about their upcoming opponent, though, they didn’t show it Monday when they took the field in hoodies and sweatpants for a walk-through after watching film. The Colonels couldn’t have been any cooler and collected for a team that is headed to its first state title game in school history.
“To tell you the truth it hasn’t hit me yet,” said senior quarterback Drew Moore as he casually shrugged off questions about the biggest game of his life. “It’s just another week. We just have to prepare and know that this is a good team so we have to come ready to play.”
But, the lights? The crowd? The championship trophy? The opponent? It has to be in the back of the Colonels’ minds, right?
Wrong. They’re too wrapped up in the process. The same process that’s helped them win 13 straight games.
“I haven’t thought about it too much yet,” Moore said when asked what he expects it to be like when he walks out on the field at Western Kentucky University for the first time, or even potentially hoists the trophy. “It’s going to come. I just have to be prepared.”
This is the culture Brossart has cultivated in Dixie’s locker room since he took over three years ago. The players are focused in a way a team can only be when it’s fully bought in and confident in the game plan, coaches and teammates. Instead of looking like a team feeling the pressure of facing a Goliath, the Colonels looked like they were preparing for a week four game against a district foe.
“Every week I just feel like I’ve got another week of football,” senior offensive lineman Drew Brennen said. “It’s never been like, ‘Oh man, this could be our last game.’ I just think like, we have a game on Friday and then practice on Monday, and then repeat.”
That mindset starts at the top.
“Every week we tell our kids our goal is to go 1-0,” Brossart said. “We can’t worry about the past or the future. Win or lose, we have to worry about going undefeated this week. We told our kids to get past the hoopla, all the bright lights and the microphones in your face, and just treat it like week four.”
That’s not to say the Colonels aren’t enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be competing for a state championship.
“It’s unbelievable,” Brennen said. “You dream about this moment when you’re a kid. You think about playing high school football and think about how going down to state would be crazy. Now, to be here, I couldn’t even tell you what it’s like.”
The Colonels seem to be caught somewhere in between being completely removed from the situation altogether thanks to their “one game at a time” approach, and recognizing that they’ve made history at their school (mainly due to the fans and alumni support).
“It’s definitely a confidence booster when you know you have that many people wanting you to succeed and wanting you to go get that title,” Moore added. “I just hope we can go and get it for all those alumni and folks that are supporting us.”
Dixie’s coach is right, though. His Colonels will enter Saturday’s game as the underdog. It doesn’t matter. The Colonels believe.
“These kids believe,” Brossart said. “They’ve always believed. They were 3-8 their sophomore year, 8-4 their junior year and 13-1 now. They’ve kept getting better and better and they bought in ever since they started in the program.”