BROOKSVILLE – History was made in Brooksville on Friday.
The Bracken County football team, which played its first season in 2003, was able to come away with its first ever playoff win in school history, beating Fairview, 36-6.
“I’m just so happy for the kids. It’s been a long time. It’s been 15 years or whatnot, which isn’t all that long – a lot of other schools wait a lot longer I’m sure – but I’m just happy for the kids and the people that started this program and all of them,” said Bracken County coach David Brausch. “I’m just so happy for all of them.”
For Brausch, the first playoff win came in his first season as head coach at Bracken County.
“They’ve welcomed me and my family with open arms. It’s not the easiest thing in the world when you come in and one son is the defensive coordinator, your other son’s a quarterback and you’re the head coach. There could have been a lot of, I don’t know, jealousy or whatever and whatnot, but I’ve tried to make sure that we earn everything that we get, the Bausch’s do,” said Brausch. “These people have been so great to me and my family. I couldn’t ask for any better people.”
His son, also David, led the “Bear Down Defense” to allowing an average of only 158 yards of total offense per game this year and had shut out two opponents heading into the postseason.
And they were out again on Friday.
Bracken County forced a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, before the Polar Bears were able to march down the field 64 yards to take an 8-0 lead. The drive was capped off by a 16-yard run by Tad Fisher.
After forcing the Eagles to punt again, Bracken County took a 16-0 lead with a 3-yard quarterback keeper from Brausch.
Fairview started the ensuing possession at their own 21 and drove all the way to Bracken County’s 7-yard line, before they were stood up by the Polar Bear defense and turned the ball over on downs.
“It was pretty key. Defense – we’ve got to stop them and then offense has got to keep working. The linemen - they all work their butts off,” said Austin Stubblefield.
“We take it on as we see it. They’re big? We’re big. They’re little? We’re big,” added Stubblefield. “We just do all we can.”
And then the dagger.
Griffin Appleman was handed the ball on Bracken County’s first play on the next drive, spinning past and running over defenders before breaking free for the 93-yard score, giving Bracken County a 22-0 lead with 8:06 remaining in the second quarter.
“I felt like I was a created Madden player and I just couldn’t be stopped. I don’t know, I just maxed my stats out and couldn’t be stopped,” said Appleman. “I just kept my feet going. I had like two linemen, I had Tanner Fisher, I had Tad leading me there, so it was pretty easy once I got going with those guys with me.”
The senior had three carries in the first half for 139 yards.
“I think that was like getting a dagger in there, the final nail in the coffin. There was still a lot of game to play, but that had to hurt tremendously,” said Brausch. “If I was on the other side, that would have hurt tremendously because you’re so close to getting right back in the ball game and then all of a sudden, boom, instead of being two touchdowns to one, it’s three to none.”
Fairview put points on the board with under two minutes remaining in the half on a 4-yard run from Mark Ekers, making it 22-6.
The Polar Bears weren’t satisfied with their lead and Fisher, who led the offense throughout the season, added his second touchdown of the night on a 7-yard run.
Appleman’s big night continued in the fourth quarter, as he broke free for a 47-yard touchdown run with 3:06 to play. He finished with 249 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. It is Appleman’s second year at Bracken County, after transferring from Pendleton County.
“Our offensive line was great, and a special woman to me – in three days, my aunt, it will be the one year [anniversary] of her death, so I really think she was on my side tonight,” said Appleman. “I just carried her with me and broke tackles and did what I had to do tonight.
“Before I transferred over here, they had a couple of down years, but you know, we worked hard and were 8-2 last year, 9-2 and continuing on this year,” added Appleman. “We’re just building. We’re starting a tradition here and we just keep building.”
Fisher, a lifelong Bracken County kid, finished with 98 yards and two scores on 20 carries.
“It means a lot to me. I came when I was younger, just watching the teams and stuff and wanting to make it better, and that’s what we did,” said Fisher. “We came this summer and worked hard and got it done.”
Brausch, who finished his first regular season in Bracken County with the most passing yards from a player in school history, completed 3-of-9 passes for 84 yards. All were to Trey Deaton.
“Everyone has taken me in very nicely. I have a lot of good friends here,” said the quarterback. “It’s nice."
Shane Cook led Fairview with 103 yards on 19 carries, while Ekers added 46 yards on 11 carries. Fairview finishes the season at 4-7.
Bracken County improves to 9-2, reaching the highest win total in school history. The Polar Bears will travel to Paintsville next week for a 7:30 p.m. game.
“It’s going to take a great effort, but you know what? We’re going to work hard starting Monday. The coaches are going to work hard starting tomorrow, the kids will work hard starting tomorrow and we’re going to show up and see what happens,” said Brausch. “It’s been done before. We wouldn’t be the first one to knock off a No. 1 seed, so we’re going to show up, we’re going to play our best and see what happens.”