Leadership was exemplified by 32 seniors. The quarterback and head coach were named player and coach of the year in Class 6A, and their ranking ascended to national recognition. The only thing left to cap off a historic football season by the Male Bulldogs was the crowning as state champion.
Last Saturday, before 8,629 fans at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium at Western Kentucky University, the Bulldogs were crowned as champs. They dispatched the Lafayette Generals 41-14 in the 6A championship and displayed why they were the No. 1 team in the state of Kentucky and No. 10 in the nation by USA Today.
â€œItâ€™s a dream come true for them,â€ says Head Coach Chris Wolfe. â€œTo finish the road and reach your dream is an amazing experience for them. Itâ€™s a special class. Itâ€™s hard to put into words the competitiveness and brotherhood of that class. You donâ€™t see it every year. I really wanted it for them. They deserved it and worked so hard. They are a great group.â€
The Bulldogsâ€™ aspiration this season was simple: championship or bust. The team did what they needed to do to become champ. Male annihilated its competition all year. Their toughest tests came from â€“ who else â€“ St. X and Trinity. Male was able to hold off the Tigers 27-24 in mid-October, and moved the mountain of defending Trinity twice in one year after winning a close one in the playoffs, 20-19. As they got closer to the title, the pressure mounted until they were finally able to sit on the throne as state champion.
â€œItâ€™s a relief,â€ Wolfe adds. â€œTo be this close and not get it would have been tough. You fear losing more than you enjoy winning.â€
Male won its first state title since 2000, the programsâ€™ seventh championship overall, and the air has been buzzing as to whether this Male team could be the greatest in the programâ€™s rich history. A strong case could be made considering the fact that Male maintained an unblemished record, the first time since the 1964 Bulldog team went 11-0.
Senior wide receiver and UofL commit Keion Wakefield was elated to achieve this goal as a senior. He wasnâ€™t 100 percent all year due to injuries, but says he was ready for the championship. He finished the game with four catches, 78 yards and two touchdowns. To him, it is an honor to play for possibly one of the best Male teams ever.
â€œWhat Iâ€™ve been through this year, this is a true testament to having faith. I couldnâ€™t do it without God,â€ he says. â€œHe put it in my head that you have to stay strong and youâ€™ll come out 10 times better than you were before. And thatâ€™s what happened.
â€œIt is great to be one of the best Male High teams, knowing the tradition. This year, it feels great to go 15-0. It feels great to finish the season. We finally finished. Thatâ€™s all we preached all season: â€˜Finish, finish.â€™â€
Senior quarterback Hayden Shelton was named Class 6A player of the year by the Kentucky Football Coaches Association. With this being his only year starting, he had a marvelous senior season and would not have wanted to end it any other way:
â€œItâ€™s great. I couldnâ€™t have imagined it any better than this. This is awesome. There are no other words to describe it, the team played great. Thatâ€™s all I can say.â€
Zachary Smith, the big play receiver for Male all year had eight grabs for 150 yards. He embarrassed defenders all year with his speed, elusiveness and toughness as a wide receiver. It was no different in the biggest game of the season.
â€œIt is a dream come true honestly,â€ he says. â€œWe talked about it all summer, and now it is finally here. I canâ€™t believe it is over. All the greats that have played â€“ Chris Redman and Michael Bush â€“Â and to be a part of that, it is unreal.â€
Male had an outstanding season as a team. Going into next season, they will look to defend their crown. But they will cross that bridge when it comes. For now, they will enjoy their honor as the 2015 Class 6A state champion.
Panthers Roaring Back
The Elizabethtown Panthers went 32-3 last season and made it to quarterfinal round in the 2015 Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls Sweet Sixteen Basketball Tournament, losing in a thriller 41-40 to Holy Cross (Covington), who went on to win the state championship. The Panthers will face a test Thursday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m., as the Jaguars of Mercy will host them in an early regular season match up.