FLORENCE – The Boone County football Rebels are building a fresh mindset under the guidance of a new leader who knows the players.
Boone County athletic director Marty Steele has been a Rebels football coach for more than 20 years. He’s been the offensive line coach the past two seasons. He is now the head coach, taking over for Jeff Griffith, who departed after two seasons.
The challenges are easy to see, as the Rebels were 1-10 last year and have only won two games out of 33 tries the past three seasons. They are working to get back to the level they were as recently as 2011, the program’s last winning season, when the Rebels went 9-5 and had a tough two-point loss to Scott County in the Class 6A state semifinals.
“I think we’re improving but we still have a long way to go to get to where we need to be,” Steele said. “They’ve worked very hard and hopefully that will show up on the field.”
The new head coach is working with a group of young players eager to shed their losing ways. The schedule is brutal, but the goal is getting back to respectability.
A huge junior class of 28 is on the rise.
“I think our kids want to prove that we’re on the comeback,” Steele said. “Our junior class is a lot like our old Boone County teams, and we’re going to get better.”
The schedule starts at home Aug. 21 with traditionally strong Lexington Catholic, then road games at county rivals Conner and Ryle. In the new KHSAA alignment, the Rebels remain in 6A and will play in a district with Campbell County and Simon Kenton. Conner, Cooper and Ryle are in a separate district but the Rebels will play the Jaguars as well.
The Rebels have a returning foundation of ball-catchers to build on. Junior receiver Rondell Douglas was the team’s top receiver in yardage, catching 22 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Dylon Bishop, who plays receiver and tight end, had a team-high 24 receptions for 350 yards and three scores.
Junior linebacker Chandler Feinhauer and junior lineman Joey Sanz anchor the defense. Sanz also plays offensive line.
Steele said the defense was ahead of the offense in preseason, as the Rebels have more experience on the defensive side and the coaching staff is installing a new offensive system.
“I’m impressed with how hard the kids have worked,” Steele said. “They’ve accepted everything we’ve taught them. It’s a great group of kids and they want to change.”
Aug. 21 – Lexington Catholic 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 28 – at Conner
Sept. 4 – at Ryle 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 11 – at Lafayette 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 – South Oldham 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 – at Dixie Heights
Oct. 9 – Simon Kenton
Oct. 16 – Cooper
Oct. 23 – at Campbell County
Oct. 30 – Highlands
All games are at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Follow James Weber on Twitter, @JWeberSports