How do you stop the Fairview Freight Train?
Nobody has an answer so far.
The ground-gobbling team never bothered to attempt a pass Friday night, steamrolling defending Class A champion Hazard 40-6 Friday night for its first trip to the state finals.
“I didn’t expect that domination, it shocked me,” Fairview coach Nathan McPeek said after a postgame celebration.
The Eagles soared to 14-0 and will play Mayfield for the championship next Friday at noon at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. Mayfield beat Beechwood 35-14 in the other semifinal game.
Fairview rushed for 429 yards and turned two early Hazard turnovers into touchdowns on the way to a 20-0 lead just one play into the second quarter.
Elijah King zoomed for 173 yards and three TDs on only 13 carries to lead the Eagles’ huge rushing effort.
“We have the best offensive line in the state, and they proved it again tonight,” King said. ”They work hard every day. They watch film. They come out every Friday night, open holes and let the backs do what they do best.”
Nobody appreciated the work up front more than McPeek, a former All-Mid American conference lineman at Marshall.
“The offensive line really played well,” he said. “Several times (Anthony) Roark and (Cody) McPeek made pancake blocks. Anthony knocked the helmet off one of their big guys as he was knocking him down. We played physical. That’s why we won the game.”
Cody Campbell, Cody Sammons and Dan Metzler joined Roark and Cody McPeek up front. Metzler replaced Tanner Young, who sustained a broken ankle last week at Pikeville.
“We were coming out to play hard,” Roark said. “We heard so much about them. We were not going to let anybody run us over. The same goes for next week.”
Fullback Chris Brewer carried for 111 yards, while halfback Devon Turner supplied 63 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles despite sitting out most of the second half after getting banged up.
Said Roark: “Devon Turner runs hard. Elijah King runs hard. Chris Brewer runs hard. You can’t ask for better. We are family. That’s what we believe in.”
The big ground swell Friday unofficially boosted Fairview to No. 1 on the state’s all-time season rushing list with 5,792 yards. Entering this year, Mercer County (2006) held the top spot with 5,780.
“Fairview just outplayed us,” said Hazard coach Mark Dixon, whose Bulldogs reached the state semifinals for the sixth consecutive year.
Dixon said the Eagles’ backfield ranks among the best he has seen.
“Most of the times, there are one or two you can key on,” Dixon said. “Fairview has a three-headed monster. If you stop one, they will get you with the others.”
King broke three tackles on a 26-yard scoring run to set the tone early.
Fairview freshman Tanner Dolen added a 29-yard run to the end zone and also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. Caleb McKnight blocked the kick and Dolen was there to pick it up, giving the Eagles a 26-6 lead late in the first half.
Fairview also came up with four turnovers on the night. Fumble recoveries by Mason Rutherford and Turner led to the team’s first two scores.
Elijah King and Rutherford picked off passes in the second half as part of a strong night for the Eagles’ secondary. Hazard quarterback Evan Whitaker, who passed for more than 2,000 yards coming into the game, finished 9-of-25 for only 55 yards.
Hazard (9-3) managed just 134 yards on the ground while having an eight-game winning streak snapped.
“We beat a really good team,” Nathan McPeek said. “Coach Dixon got a state championship last year. That’s why we signed up to play them the next two years (in the regular season).”
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.