2020 saw Owensboro Catholic once again make a deep charge into the postseason, only to be dispatched by a familiar foe. This year the Aces are determined to have a different outcome.
"Coming out here and giving max effort," says Owensboro Catholic senior quarterback Lincoln Clancy. "Leaving no doubt that you gave everything you had on every play."
"Just try to get one percent better each day," says Owensboro Catholic senior linebacker Max Pride. "Be the best player each day."
Those slogans are thrown around in every training camp this time of year. However, they have special meaning for Owensboro Catholic. Last season the Aces, despite being heartbroken at the loss of senior lineman Logan Davis to a tragic car crash in the off-season, blew the first half of their schedule, opening with a 4-and-0 mark, only to drop 3-of-their-last-4 games. Head coach Jason Morris' crew bounced back in the postseason with victories over McLean County and Hancock County, but I deflating 28-7 setback to perrenial playoff rival Murray was the bitterest of pills to swallow.
"So, we just want to get there and finish this time," says Clancy.
"We just couldn't get it done at the end of the day," says Pride. "But we're here again and we get to start over."
"When we got beat by Murray in the regional finals," says Morris, "we came home and started talking about winning every day. So our team motto is that we're not going to get to the regional finals this year and be shocked by the caliber of play. We're just going to try and win every day. That way, whe we get to those deep playoff games, every day has been exactly the same."
And the Aces get to start over with an abundance of talent on both side of the ball, beginning on offense, where senior signal caller Lincoln Clancy returns under center as the latest in the quarterback factory that is the Owensboro Catholic football program.
"He looks smooth," says Morris. "He's really battle-tested. We've got lots of confidence in Lincoln. I don't think it's so much as finding a great quarterback as it is the way we develop quarterbacks here at Owensboro Catholic. It's a system that's been in place since the early 2000's. We get them going from the youth leagues up to the middle school and then into here. It's a position that we always take so seriously that we've got to make sure we have one."
As for Clancy's targets, they'll all be new, with the exception of Braden Mundy. However, the run game, behind one of the most experienced front line in the Tri-State will be paving the way to pay dirt.
"The offense is going to be fine," says Clancy. "We have a very strong run game. We have a very good offensive line, who takes care of me and keeps me off my back. And we have great receivers. I think we'll be pretty explosive."
"We're going to be experienced up front," says Morris. "We also have one of the better athletes in Western Kentucky in Braden Mundy coming back. With him at receiver and three seniors and two juniors on the offensive line. We'll be pretty young at the other skill positions. A lot of sopmomores. Hunter Monroe at running back. Tuck Carrico at wide receiver, Reed Clark at receiver. Kaiser Frick and Deuce Sims at receiver. So a lot of sophomores at receiver that are step in and get it done."
On the other side of the ball, the Aces defense will have eight returners to a unit that gave up an average of just ten points per contest in the regular season a year ago. However, the young linebacking corps is a concern.
"We lost one of the school'd leading tacklers in Chris Boarman," says Morris. "Trying to replace hime at middle linebacker will be the main emphasis. But just like the offesive side, we think we're going to be real strong on the defensive line, which is very important, to be able to get younger linebackers, bodies off of them. Possibly two freshman at linebacker. Returning senior starter Max Pride. Max will be that kid that we're asking to make a lot of plays for us."
"I thought our defense played really well last year," says Pride. "Better than everyone thought we'd be. Offensively we were solid, but I think our defense was really good last year. We surprised a lot of people, that's for sure. We've got a lot of athletes out here. I think, again, we're going to surprise everybody this year."
The Aces open up the regular season Friday night at home against Apollo.