Friday, October 22, 1999

Football team joins Kings' championship charge


Knights have won 6 of 8 titles in FAVC

BY DAVE SCHUTTE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Success breeds success. A good example is Kings High School, where teams already have won six of eight Fort Ancient Valley Conference championships, one fewer than the Knights won the entire 1998-99 school year.

        Besides sharing the league title with Loveland in both boys and girls soccer, the Knights have won the boys and girls cross country and girls tennis titles while clinching at least a tie in football.

        “We considered last year as the most successful in the history of the school,” Kings Athletic Director Gregg Darbyshire said. “We had never won seven sports titles in any previous year.”

        Darbyshire points to multiple factors for the success.

        “The coaches have created a winning atmosphere, and the community has pulled together behind us,” Darbyshire said.

        “The athletes also have a different focus. In the past, they liked to win, but now they expect to win.”

        The football team has been the biggest surprise.

        Despite losing 19 players to graduation — 16 who started for a team that went 9-1 — the Knights have won seven consecutive games since losing the opener 24-21 to Wyoming.

        Second-year coach Andy Olds was caught off guard by the instant success, having told the staff prior to the season that “this is the season we'll have to be at our best as coaches.”

        “We've quickly discovered that when young kids get an opportunity, they play hungry,” Olds said. “They have responded, and we continue to get better every game.”

        Tailback Mike Hurley, who has rushed for 515 yards on 50 carries (10.3 average) despite missing three games, looked at the loss to Wyoming as a learning experience.

        “We had a lot of young players who needed to get their feet wet,” Hurley said. “They weren't use to the atmosphere and the big crowds. We started playing better in the second half against Wyoming and we felt optimistic.”

        The Knights came out flat and fell behind rival Mason 14-0 in the second game but rallied for a 21-14 victory. They followed with a 14-7 win over Lebanon, the defending Division II state champ.

        “Everyone looked at us as the underdog early in the season,” Hurley said. “That allowed us to sneak up on some teams.”

        As well as fielding a strong defensive unit, Kings features a running attack second to none in Cincinnati. It alternates four running backs who have rushed for 450 or more yards apiece.

        “Before I took over, Kings always had a running back who rushed for 1,500 or more yards,” Olds said. “We changed that last year and went with multiple backs. Everyone has bought into the system.”

        Besides Hurley, Kings also features running backs Jimmy Robertson (721 yards), Ron Swearingin (679 yards) and Mike Vanscoy (415) and quarterback Justin Dranschak (404 rushing and 628 passing).

        “We have four backs who could easily go over 1,200 yards for any other team,” Olds said. “Three of the four average about 10 yards a carry. When you throw in Justin, defenses must account for five backs.”

        Dranschak has thrown the ball well, completing 35 of 51 passes for 628 yards.

        “Justin replaced his brother, Jason, at quarterback this year and knew he had to become a better passer,” Olds said.

        “He took it on himself and worked very hard on his own to get better. Throwing for 600 yards isn't too bad for an option quarterback.”

        Another factor in the success has been the offensive line.

        Returning starters Jason Dawson and Keith Gabbard have been joined by Mark Lonneman, Matt Bengal, Glenn Wank and Zack Woods.

        Kings has outscored opponents 294-68, racking up 190 points in the last four games.

        A berth in the playoffs is a certainty and might erase some of the hurt from last season, when the 9-1 Knights missed the postseason.

       



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