Wednesday, December 01, 1999

Highlands' opponent waited a long time

Owensboro back in finals after 13 years

Enquirer contributor

        Owensboro High School has waited 13 years for this week. The Red Devils meet defending Class AAA state champion Highlands for the title at noon Saturday at Cardinal Stadium. It will be Owensboro's first championship game since a 14-0 win over Belfry in 1986.

        Coach Gordon Bryant Powers will be happy when he can quit talking about what it's like to be back in the finals after such a long absence.

        “We've been asked that question quite a bit,” Powers said. “We didn't feel any of that pressure. We've got a solid program here.”

        It's a solid program despite shrinking enrollment over the past two decades.

        In the 1980s, Owensboro High was a Class AAAA school, and the Red Devils were runner-up to Louisville Trinity in 1983. Since then, its district boundaries have narrowed, and students who live in the city also attend Daviess County, Apollo and Owensboro Catholic high schools.

        “A long time ago, Owensboro High School had close to 2,000 students and 1,500 in the top two grades,” Powers said.

        In the '90s, Owensboro has put together an 81-40 record, including this year's 13-1 mark, with postseason appearances every year.

        Powers, 42, is perhaps the ideal man at the helm. He is named after Alabama coaching legend Paul “Bear” Bryant, and he owns one of Bryant's trademark houndstooth hats (a gift from Bear Bryant to Gordon's father, Clayton Powers, when the elder Powers was a Crimson Tide assistant in Tuscaloosa from 1966-70).

        The Red Devils averaged 28 points a game this season by keeping the ball on the ground in the same way Bryant's Alabama teams did.

        “They've got a solid ball-control offense with a really good running back,” Highlands coach Dale Mueller said.

        That would be senior Getty Cavitt. He has rushed for 1,445 yards and 19 touchdowns, and he'll run behind 6-foot-5, 280-pound senior guard Buster Ashley, who is being recruited by Cincinnati, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Arkansas among others.

        “He's a power runner,” Powers said. “He's not going to have great speed, but he runs really well.”

        Cavitt is also a force at middle linebacker. He has 130 tackles.

        Powers said his team didn't realize it could make the finals until an Oct.22 win over Bowling Green, the Red Devils' first victory over the Purples in seven years.

        “We feel like we've accomplished a lot,” Powers said.


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