South Laurel’s football season hasn’t gone according to new head coach Jason Chappell’s plan, for a variety of reasons including injuries and graduation losses.

The Cardinals’ playoff hopes ended a few weeks back, but they still have a chance to make an impact on the District 8 seedings if they can pull an upset win tonight at George Rogers Clark (5-4, 3-2 dist.).

But Chappell doesn’t like to think of his team as playing the spoiler role. Instead, he’s hoping for a big win to serve as a jumping off point for next season.

“You have to keep working hard and you have to try and sell your kids on that fact,” he said. “We aren't playing this week to spoil anything for GRC. We are however, playing for South Laurel.”

Pride can be a wonderful motivational tool; and it’s a topic that has come up a lot the last two weeks.

“We've talked about our program in general, the tradition, the success, etc…,” Chappell said. “Many if not all of our kids have been a part of that success here at South at some point. We've talked about life's lessons.”

It’s not an easy sell, he says, but if his team’s wounded pride can rebound for a big effort against GRC, it can cast an air of optimism over the South Laurel (3-6, 1-4 dist.) program that can carry through to spring practice and on into next summer.

It won’t be an easy task. GRC has a speedy defense and a tough running game — attributes South Laurel has had a hard time overcoming this season.

“You're right, they're not what we like to see,” Chappell said. “They are an extremely talented football team with a strong running game. We just have to come out and play like Dr. Jekyll instead of Mr. Hyde, I guess. In all seriousness, we have to bring the willingness to play physical like we did versus Whitley, Corbin and (Southwestern). That's been the key to our season all year long.”

Chappell said there will be some new faces seeing more playing time this week. Some are filling holes left by injury, and others just to get a look at the future. On the offensive line, freshman Chaz Proffitt (6-2, 240) and sophomore Brad Nolan (6-3, 285) figure to see a lot of playing time, as will freshmen Cody Shepherd (5-10, 180) and Willie Messer (5-11, 155) on defense.

With the move into a new district and a major reshuffling of the schedule, this season is the last time South Laurel has to deal with having its bye week just one week before the regular season finale — a change Chappell welcomes.

“There was nothing I could do about it this year, but it has changed. It will fall on week six for the next two years. I really like this setup better as it is right in the middle of our season where I think it would be much more beneficial to us.”

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