Just missing the top 10, today at number 11 on our countdown of the 50 greatest games in the history of Bearcat Stadium, which on Sept. 1 will open its gates for its 50th season, is a win over a team that resides up North Highway 23. And hey, all wins over that bunch are on a list of the best games aren't they?
The season was 2006. The conference race was decided as Ozark had a two game, or better, lead on everybody going into the final week of the year. Make that one game.
Why was this game chosen? As we said, it changed nothing at the top of the standings, but it did jack up the rest of the standings. That and it wound up being the last win by Head Coach Kenneth Rippy in his 17-year career.
What do I remember? The sports editor from Osceola called me early in the week. If everything went as you could have logically expected the Bearcats and Seminoles would meet in week 11. That game would have to wait a couple years. There was an upset in Osceola's conference that weekend, wasting a plane trip by Rippy and some of the coaching staff that Thursday, and, of course Michael Johnson's Hillbillies took it on the chin here. Good times.
What does Kelly Carolan remember? From that season I remember we started 0-3 and finally got our first win in conference play against Clarksville. Ended up going 4-5 before the Ozark game. For us it was a must win, for Ozark, they already had conference title wrapped up. I'm pretty sure the Thursday night pep rally speaker was everyone's little league coach, John Weaver. I've never felt so much intensity in a pep-rally before.
As you have me quoted saying was the best victory formation of my entire career. Remembering back Ozark had lost their starter at QB and the "backup" was Booneville's own Chad Johnson. And every single senior on defense made it a mission to stop him. And stop him they did. I hit Wes over the middle for roughly 20 I believe right after half to get us started to finish the game. That pass play was put in that week and we loved it because Wes was always open. Also, it seemed like every defensive back had an interception but that's probably an exaggeration.
I'm pretty sure we were the first 5-5 team to host an opening round playoff game.
What happened? What Carolan didn't tell you was the senior class of that year (Chris King et. all) was a perfect 3-0 against Ozark during their high school career. Good times.
Carolan mentioned the interceptions. The first one was by Dylan Smith at the Bearcat 2-yard line, on a fourth down — Ozark was 0-of-5 on the night on fourth down. A possession later, on another fourth down, it was Swint with the pick.
After the scoreless first quarter the Carolan to Swint pass, it was actually 26 yards, set up a Michael Emery touchdown — Chris King threw the key block — for a touchdown run and Michael Goff's point after made it 7-0 with 9:23 left in the first half.
A fourth down stop of Johnson by Aaron Russell ended Ozark's next possession. Russell had a career night with 19 tackles. As impressive as that was, 18 were solo.
Two plays later sophomore Colton Waters went 62 yards and it was 14-0 with four minutes left in the half.
Starting the second half from their 40 the Bearcats got a 40-yard Carolan to Swint pass — Swint had 72 of the 78 yards Carolan threw for in the game — and Michael Emery ran 7 yards for his second touchdown and it was 21-0 over the conference champs.
That didn't last long. David English scored from the 10 on the ensuing possession and after a short punt he scored again from the 19 and just like that it was a one score game with still 2:16 left in the third quarter.
Then the sophomore got loose again. Waters went 64 this time and it was 28-14 with 54 seconds left in the quarter.
Two possessions later Ozark had the ball with 8:25 left but Emery and Waters would make a fourth down stop of Johnson before a Russell punt only traveled to the Bearcat 25.
Nathan Edgin hit Johnson for 17 and a touchdown with 3:06 to go and it was 28-21. Edgin was the third quarterback of the night for Ozark.
Ozark then got the onside kick and reached the Bearcat 36 before an 8-yard loss, a 4-yard run and two incomplete passes resulted in a turnover on downs.
Enter Carolan for the victory formation.
Tomorrow we'll break into the top 10 with another win to savor over a Franklin County bunch.