It may not have been the storybook ending the Red Devils were hoping for, but this year’s Owensboro football team has plenty to be proud of after adding an impressive chapter to the storied history of the program.
Though they returned a significant number of players from last year’s team that made a strong postseason push, this season could have been derailed before it even got started after some key losses over the summer.
“Back in July, we had a lot of question marks,” said head coach Jay Fallin. “We had some serious preseason injuries and we had a lot of question marks. These guys didn’t listen to any of the outside noise or any criticism. They tuned all that out and they got to work determined to prove people wrong, and they did just that.”
After a narrow loss in week two to Evansville Memorial, the Red Devils went on a dominant 11-game win streak — outscoring opponents 456-63 in that span — and reached their first state semifinal since 2014.
Owensboro also won their 750th game in school history when they beat Daviess County on Sept. 21 — a win that also locked up yet another city-county title after dominant victories over both Catholic and Apollo in the two weeks prior.
Led by a veteran defense, the Red Devils finished the year allowing the third-fewest points of any team in the state — the only two allowing less are playing for the 5A state championship this week.
As this group of seniors ends their varsity careers, Fallin said it’s especially tough considering the impact they’ve made.
“You hurt for every senior when he’s gone, but anytime you’ve got a big group of seniors that mean a lot to your program, it hurts a little more,” he said. “They left their mark on the program, and it’s hard to make your mark on a program like Owensboro. We’ve been playing football since 1895, and this will go down as a great group of seniors. I’m very proud of them.”
Dating back to when they were freshmen in 2016, this year’s seniors were part of teams that went 36-15 — including three seasons with at least 10 wins. They also lost a pair of region title games to eventual state champions before claiming a region championship of their own this year.
Even with their overall successful 2019 campaign and a strong effort in their semifinal loss Friday, Fallin said it’s never easy to end the year deep in the postseason.
“If you’re a senior, there’s some finality to it,” he said. “For everybody involved, there’s so much work that goes into it. You’re so close that you can taste it, and you just come up a little short. As a coach and an underclassman, it’s going to be eight or nine months of work before we get an opportunity to get back out here and do it again.”
After taking some time to reflect on this year, Fallin said the Red Devils will turn focus on 2020. They’ll lose quite a few key players — namely on the defensive side — but he’s still confident heading into another year of Owensboro football.
“We’ll take a couple days and then we’ll start thinking about next year,” he said. “Then we’ll be full-steam ahead for next year. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of underclassmen and a lot of guys who we’re excited about their future.”