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2001 Class AA Champions

2001 Class AA Champions

The Kentucky Standard headline of November, 26, 2001, announced, “Tigers Advance to State Final with 21-0 Win.” The Josh Givens article went on to say, “The Bardstown Tigers will play for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Class 2A football crown, after a 21-0 semi-final win over the Glasgow Scotties Friday in Glasgow, but the Tigers had to fight every step of the way to earn the trip to Louisville.” This was a shutout game of aGlasgow team that had played in the lasttwo state finals in Class 2A. Player Jonathan Hibbs in a 2008 interview said one of his favorite memories was going to the Glasgow game. “I remember riding the team bus down to Glasgow and looking out the back window at the parade of fans’ cars stretching as far as I could see. It looked like 100 cars getting off the interstate. We always took two buses. Coach Blackmon rode on the

bus with the linemen, and Coach Downs on the skill player’s bus. Tommy Hart always drove that bus. The Glasgow game was the hardest we played to get to the state contest.
It was cool all that season to go without losing, winning the championship and beating teams like we did.” (Josh Givens, sports editor of The Kentucky Standard, wrote several in-depth articles about the entire trip to the state. His articles supplied the majority of the details for this account.) This began a week of excitement and anticipation.
The Bardstown Tigers’ last state championship game came in 1981, twenty years earlier. That game was the third state championship win for Coach Garnis Martin and the only time Bardstown had taken a Class AA title. This would be the third time that Coach Joey Downs had taken a team to the state final trip. Both trips in 1992 and 1993 resulted in runner-up finishes. On Friday, November 30, Bardstown (14-0) would face Prestonsburg (13-1) at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. Coach Downs noted, “Prestonsburg is a big, strong team, so we have our work cut out for us.” He continued, “We will use this week to prepare for a really, really good football team. We don’t just want to go up and play in the final, we want to win the thing,” Downs said. “The guys know a championship is not going to be handed to us, so working hard and keeping our heads screwed on will be the most important thing as we work out this week,” he said. Up to this point the team had never trailed an opponent, the closest they came was 7-6 in the first quarter in the playoff game against LaRue County. They had speed with Brian Johnson, Maurice Crow, Joseph Blackmon, and Jamie Cotton. They had a “Mad Dog” tackler in Lance Blanford and monster blocker in Justin Grundy, a punt return record setter in Randy Tonge, and a quarterback who threw for 308 yards and four touchdowns against Louisville’s Western High School in one half, John Wesley Monin. Then there was the rest of the team, all great athletes and talented players. In a conversation in 2008 Coach Downs remembered the 2001 team during the first few weeks, “We were having trouble working together, so I used the story about the rope. If you were hanging off a cliff who would you want holding the other end of the rope, who could you depend on to hold on?” As the team continued to unite, play and win games, he didn’t think about the rope story again. He spoke about the day of the game, “We came to school as usual and went over to the Stephen Foster Restaurant for breakfast. When room was a big long rope. It gave me chills. I still don’t know who did it, but I knew then that we were going to win.”

The day is here. The time is 4:00 p.m. and the Bardstown fans fill the bleachers. Dressed in purple and gold scarves, hats, jackets and sweatshirts, their support was colorful and vocal. The cold weather was not a handicap. The big field with Astroturf and towering bleachers weren’t going to be a problem. They just needed to play the game the way they knew how and play it with Bardstown Spirit! “TIGERS STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPS” was the front page headline of the December 10 issue of The Kentucky Standard. For the few
people who had not heard the news of the Friday game, this certainly told it all. “Tigers Roll overPrestonsburg 47-16 in Championship Game.” These headlines indicated that a 15-0 first-ever season was accomplished by the Bardstown football team. “It really feels good to win the state championship,” Coach Joey Downs said. “I’ve been on the other side, losing to Beechwood in ‘92 and ‘93, and nothing feels worse as a football coach. Well, I’ve found out, nothing feels better than winning a title!”
Bardstown High School

400 N. 5th Street
Bardstown, KY 40004
Phone (502) 331-8802
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