Bulldogs entered the season with a 12-game losing streak and were picked to finish last in the district
Having entered the season with a 12-game losing streak and picked to finish last in its district, the Fairdale High School football team is defying expectations.
After losing its first three games this season and seeing its skid reach 15 games, the Bulldogs have won four in a row and are in first place in Class 4-A, District Four entering Friday’s 7:30 p.m. home game against Nelson County.
Second-year coach Matt Wright said he’s not completely surprised by the turnaround, crediting his players with buying into the program and getting stronger in the weight room.
“I thought we were doing things right in the offseason for us to have the potential to do this,” he said. “You can never really say what’s going to happen through the year with injuries and those things. But I felt the kids were working hard enough to put us in this position.”
Fairdale opened the season with losses to Bullitt Central, which is 7-0, and Class 6-A powers Male and St. Xavier. The Bulldogs snapped their losing streak Sept. 19 with a 23-16 victory at Southern before knocking off preseason district favorite Western 34-28 on Sept. 26.
Western has won five straight regular-season district titles.
“That win was the biggest one we’ve had,” Wright said. “We knew if we could win that game it would set us up to hold on to our destiny through the rest of our district games. We’re exactly where we wanted to be right now.”
Wins over Valley (36-0) and Moore (26-7) the past two weeks have put Fairdale at 4-3 overall and 3-0 in the district.
His team having allowed just seven points over the past two weeks, Wright said improvement on defense has been one key to the Bulldogs’ success after allowing 42.3 points per game last season.
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Senior linebacker/safety Trey Norton and junior linebacker Cole Votaw have been leaders of the defense.
Junior running back Max Cole, a 5-foot-6 160-pounder, leads the offense with nearly 800 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He rushed for 97 yards and scored two touchdowns in Friday’s victory over Moore.
“He’s tiny … so he’s not your prototypical workhorse kid,” Wright said. “He’s just a hard-nosed kid who runs hard, and he’s a little bit shifty. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”
With a win over Nelson County on Friday, Fairdale would be in line to the clinch the district title against Doss (2-6, 2-1) on Oct. 24. But Wright is trying to keep his team from looking ahead.
“We’re not selling that at all right now,” he said. “Our goal has been to win one varsity game a week, and we have Nelson County this week.”