t’s not often teams are better away from home.
But the LaRue County Hawks are an exception to the rule.
The Hawks are 5-1 away from home this season, including back-to-back wins over district champions.
LaRue County (8-5) had a losing record at home this season.
The Hawks’ only loss on the road was a 39-0 defeat at Taylor County on Sept. 7. Since then, they’ve won four straight road games.
“They’ve become road warriors,” LaRue County coach Josh Jaggers said. “It’s hard to say why some teams play better at home and others on the road. Outside of the Taylor County game, we’ve played really good on the road.”
The Hawks face another road game in the Class 3-A state semifinals as they travel to Louisville Central (11-2). The Yellow Jackets haven’t lost at home this season, going 7-0.
The teams used to be in the same district, but haven’t faced each other since Central’s 43-7 victory in 2014.
After opening the playoffs with a 48-29 victory over Union County, the Hawks had to go to Caldwell County, which ended LaRue County’s season in 2017.
LaRue County trailed at times during the game, but managed a 44-41 victory behind a ground game that churned out 413 yards. Senior Anthony Adkins did most of the damage, carrying the ball 29 times for 301 yards and four touchdowns.
In the Region 1 championship, the Hawks had to travel to rival Elizabethtown, which beat them, 42-14 in the regular season.
Once again, LaRue County found itself in a hole. The Panthers jumped out to a 25-6 lead in the first quarter and led 25-12 at halftime.
Things looked even more bleak near the end of the third quarter when Elizabethtown scored to build a 32-20 lead.
But the Hawks never buckled under the pressure. Instead, they scored four times in the fourth quarter. Senior Russell Young had a 1-yard plunge, sophomore Jeremiah Belton weaved his way through for a 43-yard touchdown and then Adkins put the game away with two touchdown runs in the final five minutes.
“They rise to the challenge,” Jaggers said. “Some teams do that. Playing on the road you know you have to step up. It’s not like playing in front of your home crowd. When you’re on the road, even though we travel well, you’re still at place where everyone’s against you and you have to step up.”
Jaggers said this team has come a long way this season to be a good road team.
“They’ve matured a lot,” Jaggers said. “The juniors and seniors from last year were really tight. The seniors this year were like we have to do this on our own now. I think they’ve really grown up. They’ve embraced it. They have been up for the challenge every week.”