This From the Sidelines column was part of the special Corbin Redhounds state football championship coverage in the November 29, 2017 edition…
When the Corbin Redhounds take the field against Boyle County in this Friday’s Class 3A state championship game several interesting storylines will unfold. I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss just a few.
First, and most obvious, is the fact that this will be Corbin’s first appearance in a state championship game since they were defeated 51-0 by Breathitt County back in 2002. And who was leading the charge for the Bobcats in that game against the Redhounds? None other than quarterback Justin Haddix.
That’s right. It’s been well documented that prior to coaching at Corbin, prior to coaching at Perry County Central and prior to his playing days at Western Kentucky University, Justin Haddix was the starting QB at Breathitt County. It has also been well documented that he was in large part responsible for the Hounds’ brutal loss in the 2002 Class 2A finals, but now that he is leading Corbin back to the state championship stage as head coach I think it deserves mention just one more time, don’t you?
I mean, just think about it. What is the likelihood that teenage Justin Haddix went into the locker room after that game 15 years ago saying to himself, “You know, I feel kind of bad for beating up on those poor guys from Corbin so badly. I think I’ll make it up to everyone in that town by coaching the team back to another state championship one day!”
Better yet, what is the likelihood that former Redhounds head coach Steve Jewell ever considered the possibility that the talented kid from Breathitt County would one day be standing in his shoes – coaching the Corbin Redhounds in a state championship game?
In both instances I would say the answer is “not likely.”
Nevertheless, here we are. About this time 15 years ago Corbin fans were probably not too happy with Mr. Justin Haddix, but now, well, it’s a very different story indeed. From the second that Coach Haddix arrived on the scene here he has preached the importance of working hard, staying focused and doing all that you can to put yourself in the position to play in “15 games.” Since day one he has instilled in his players the attitude and the fortitude that is necessary to be successful at the highest levels of competition in this state, and one thing has been made abundantly clear – he was absolutely the right man for this job.
I remember back when Coach Haddix was hired I asked CHS Principal John Crawford if he truly thought that this man was ready to come to a place like this, with all of its rich history and tradition, and lead the program back to the mountaintop. I pointed out the passion of the Redhound fan base, and the high expectations that come along with being the head coach of any of the school’s athletic programs. Mr. Crawford looked right at me and said something like, “I believe with all of my heart and soul that this is the man for the job.” Boy, was he ever right about that…
This next one is a bit more personal. You see, the last time that Corbin actually won a state championship was in 1982 when they defeated Glasgow in that year’s Class 2A finale. The quarterback on that team was Mr. Greg Duncum, who would later go on to be the head coach of the North Laurel Jaguars in the early-to-mid-2000’s.
Coach Duncum is now back on the Corbin sidelines as a member of one of the finest high school coaching staffs ever assembled, but for four of his years at North he coached none other than yours truly when I was a Jaguar football player from 2001-2004.
After the Redhounds’ victory last week at Louisville Central I was trying my best to navigate through the large crowd celebrating on the field. I was looking for coaches and players that I needed comments from when I spotted Coach Duncum talking to a couple of folks. I made sure to make my way over and congratulate him with a handshake. It was a small thing, but a pretty cool moment for me.
Just as Coach Haddix and Coach Jewell probably never thought they’d be in their current positions 15 years ago, I doubt that Coach Duncum or myself ever thought back then that one day we’d both be going to a state championship game with the Redhounds, him as a coach and me as a member of the local media. Just another example of how it’s funny how things work out I suppose.
Finally, I would like to say that it’s going to be a real pleasure to return to a state championship football game and watch a Sizemore represent our local community at quarterback.
When I came into the position of Sports Editor back in December of 2013 the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets were just about to make the first of back-to-back trips to face Mayfield in the Class A state finals. The senior quarterback on that 2013 squad was none other than Dalton Sizemore, the older brother of current Corbin QB Camron Sizemore.
Dalton was always a pleasure to be around, and I enjoyed covering his athletic exploits at WHS. Same can now be said of Camron at CHS, who will get the opportunity later this week to do what his brother did four years ago and compete in a state championship football game.
Dalton and Camron seem to have a really close bond, made evident by how openly and passionately big bro has supported little bro over the past few years. Many of you may have seen the Facebook post I made in the early morning hours this past Saturday. It featured two photos, both of the Sizemore brothers.
In one photo, Dalton has his arm around a very disappointed Camron after last year’s heart breaking loss to the Belfry Pirates that ended Corbin’s season one game short of a state championship appearance. In the other photo, Dalton and Camron share an emotional embrace after last week’s thrilling victory over Louisville Central that put the Hounds in the 2017 Class 3A title game.
I commented to Camron after the Central game that I was happy to see him crying tears of a different sort 12 months after having to see him and his teammates totally devastated by the most crushing of defeats. It was poetic, and my hope is that I’ll get to see plenty more tears of joy from all of the Corbin football team come this Friday night at Kroger Field in Lexington.