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Simon Kenton advances to 6A state quarterfinals for sixth straight season, upending Ballard 52-12

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By Evan Merrill
NKyTribune reporter

On a cold night in Independence, Simon Kenton blitzed through Louisville Ballard, 52-12, as the Pioneers advanced to the Class 6A state quarterfinals for the sixth straight season.

The win marks the ninth time in the past 10 seasons that coach Jeff Marksberry’s Pioneers have advanced to the state quarterfinals – a telling feat of their dominance.

Jon Sergent tries to turn the corner (Photo by Marc Figgins)

Simon Kenton set the tempo early as junior Jon Sergent returned the opening kickoff 62 yards to the Ballard 20-yard line – although the Pioneers were forced to settle for a field goal.

The Pioneers defense forced the Bruins to turn it over on downs, a big stop which they converted into a 73-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Matt Shearer with 2:05 remaining in the first quarter.

“We got in a groove, a rhythm, where we’re able to do efficiently what we want to do offensively,” Marksberry said. “Play fast, spread the ball around, run the ball equally as well as we throw the ball. Our offense did a fantastic job of playing fast and executing. You get to this point in the year and it’s all about execution.”

On the next Simon Kenton drive, Shearer fumbled the ball at the Ballard 7-yard line. One play later, however, Ballard fumbled it right back, giving the Pioneers the ball at the 4-yard line. Sergent punched in on the next play, making it 16-0 with 7:10 remaining in the second quarter.

Ballard was finally able to get on the board just 25 seconds later. Senior quarterback Terrance May threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Elijah Downing, who finished with 153 receiving yards.

With the help of their suffocating defense, Simon Kenton made several stops and poured it on late in the second quarter. The Pioneers entered the half up 38-6 and started a running clock in the third quarter off another touchdown by Sergent.

The Pioneer defense that allowed 40 points against Campbell County and 56 points against in the final two game of regular season has now given up just 14.5 points through the first two games of the playoffs.

“They have worked really hard to fix some things our kids just weren’t comfortable with since that Ryle loss,” coach Marksberry said. “Our kids have responded really well. It was a really well executed game plan.

The Simon Kenton offensive duo of Shearer, who finished with 173 total yards and two touchdowns, and Sergent, who finished with 182 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, made life tough for the Ballard defense.

The Pioneers’ next opponent is defending Class 6A state champion Louisville Trinity, a team that has won 27 straight games over the last two seasons and claimed its 24th state title last December.  The Shamrocks have a 12-0 record this season, outscoring their opponents 486-100.

“They are who they are, absolutely,” coach Marksberry said of Trinity. “They’re really good, our kids know that. We’re not going to try and hide the white elephant in the room. We’re going to come out here, prepare this week and go down there and play as well as we can play. That was kind of our goal (Friday) — to execute — because we have to be playing our best football. We can’t make mistakes to win each round.”

SIMON KENTON 10 28 14  0 — 52
LOU. BALLARD     0   6   0  6 — 12

SK – Seger 31 field goal
SK – Shearer 1 run (Seger kick)
SK – Sergent 4 run (conversion failed)
B – Downing 66 pass from May (kick failed)
SK – Hammack 2 run (conversion)
SK – Sergent 3 run (Seger kick)
SK – Hayden 38 pass from Shearer (Seger kick)
SK – Sergent 8 run (Seger kick)
SK – Farfsing 32 run (Seger kick)
B – Ford 3 pass from Douglas (conversion failed)
Records: Simon Kenton 11-1, Ballard 6-6.

Matt Shearer falls through the line right before giving up a fumble. (Photo by Marc Figgins)

Fisher Hayden catches a ball late in the first half for a touchdown. (Photo by Marc Figgins)

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