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With only one loss on the season, the Grant County Middle School football team wanted revenge and it tasted sweet when they got it.
The Braves avenged their only loss, defeating rival Owen County 30-8 in the first round of the state playoffs.
“It’s a big win,” coach Jamey Dalzell said. “It’s a satisfying win because we knew we were the better team.”
The Braves found themselves down 8-0 early, but dominated after that.
“We were nervous to start,” Dalzell said. “It was a huge atmosphere. It was the equivalent of a Friday varsity game. It was the loudest middle school game I’ve ever been to. After the beginning, we settled down and ran the football.”
The Braves relied on the running of Tyler Robinson, who had 18 carries for 160 yards, and Nathan Davis, who ran for two touchdowns and threw for one, the Braves offense dominated Owen County. Shelby Caudill led on both sides of the ball, totaling a game high nine tackles.
“It was exciting and fun,” Robinson said. “It felt like a smack in the face to lose to Owen County the first time. So it was nice to get revenge. It felt like we were playing as a team again.”
“It was exhilarating,” Caudill said. “I thought everyone did a pretty good job controlling their offense. It felt pretty good to beat them. We wanted to give them a spanking and we did that.”
“It was wild,” Dustin Haar, one of the four team captains, said. “It was a blast to play in a game like that. We haven’t lost to them since fourth grade. It was nice to keep that going. It’s what we planned to do and we did it.”
The Braves had a caravan travel to Owen County, with a police escort. They were welcomed back with a fire truck escort and fireworks shot off by Gary Brockman.
“I thought it was crazy,” Davis said. “It was great to play with a crowd that energetic. It was great to have our friends there and talking about it the next day. I’m glad we performed well and they saw it. It was great to have the whole school there.
“It was awesome. I used to live in Trimble and Owen was our rival too. It feels great to beat them. The team they played last time wasn’t us. We played cocky. But this time, we were ready to play. That’s got to be my best performance since I’ve been here. The line gave me so much time to throw the ball and opened huge holes when we wanted to run the ball,” he said.
The Braves stopped Owen County from running the ball and forced them to pass, which led to three interceptions.
“It was very sweet,” Dalzell said. “We had prepared very well and had a good game plan. They executed it to near perfection. We have never thrown the ball as well as we did against Owen County. I’m incredibly proud. It’s probably one of the biggest wins in my career. It’s Owen County, it’s a revenge game and it’s the playoffs. I feel like our kids refused to lose.”
Now that the Braves have advanced, they play at 2:45 p.m. on Nov. 1 in Lexington, but don’t know who they play yet. If they win, they play in the championship later that day.
“We need to be prepared and run the ball at whoever we play,” Robinson said. “
“We need to get prepared,” Caudill said. “I feel confident because of how well we’ve done the past two seasons.”
“Whoever we play next, they need to watch out,” Haar said.
“We can’t take any team lightly,” Davis said. “We love to play the game and that’s what we do. So we want to keep doing it and bring home a state championship. We would like to see all of our fans there on the Nov. 1. It will motivate us even more to win.”