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FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: Indians chase gridiron glory

The Tribe's list of goals this season is long, and includes beating Russell County Friday night

Adair football seniors, 2022
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The 2021 football season marked a return to respectability for the Indians of Adair County.

In head coach Van Isaac’s third year in charge, the Tribe fought its way to a 7-4 record, marking the first .500-or-better campaign for Adair since 2016.

“We want to just build off the momentum that we got going last year,” Isaac says. “I was here when Covid hit and we didn’t get to play a lot of games, but 2021 was really good to us. We just want to build off that, keep it going, keep improving.”

The Tribe finished 2-4 in the Covid-dampered 2020 season that Isaac mentions. The year prior, Isaac’s first leading the Indians, their record was 2-9. 

The impressive turnaround in 2021 gives Isaac confidence heading into year No. 4, despite a notable lack of experience. The roster features just seven seniors, meaning a horde of underclassmen will be forced to help shoulder the load—ready or not.

“We’ve got a lot of talent, but we’re just really young,” Isaac explains. “Some of these kids, most of them actually, have no varsity football experience, so we’re looking for leaders to step up and we’re looking for players to be able to handle varsity football situations.”

Key players

According to the head coach, several players have already shown some of the leadership qualities he’s looking for.

Isaac lists several players who he expects to make major impacts on offense and defense this season, starting with a pair of junior linemen, Travez Taylor and Blake White. He says both will play major roles on both sides of the ball.

“Travez Taylor is the first kid who comes to my mind,” Isaac says. “He really is not going to come off the field. He’s such a dominant force, and he still has room to grow, but he’s going to be leading the charge for us. Blake White is another kid that’s big and strong on the o-line and d-line who will be in the trenches for us.”

Moving through the lineup, Isaac says senior Colton Feese will “get a whole lot of carries” and also be counted on “to step up and play a big role on defense as well.” Jakeb Lacy also earned a mention as a prominent factor in the team’s running game. 

He says junior Byron Rodgers will lead the linebacker corps and also serve as fullback on offense.

“Byron is another big, strong kid who we’ll count on,” Isaac says. 

One player expected to be a cornerstone for the Tribe is temporarily sidelined. Lane Grant, a sophomore who earned 25 of 26 possible votes for captain from his teammates (according to assistant coach Justin Burton)—will not be available for Friday’s opener at Russell County.

“He would have been one of the first guys I mentioned, but he’s injured right now, trying to heal up from a knee surgery,” Isaac says of Grant. “We’re hoping to get him back.”

Two sophomores top the depth chart at quarterback, both of whom Isaac calls “varsity ready.” Carter White will take the snaps to start Friday’s opener.

“Carter took advantage of the holdback year [allowed because of Covid],” Isaac explains. “I think if we compare him to sophomore quarterbacks across the state, I’d say he’s above average. He’s a smart kid, he’s not going to make a lot of mistakes, and he’s going to be able to manage the game for us.”

White’s backup, Aiden Smith, will not sit idly on the sideline as QB2. Isaac expects Smith to get plenty of opportunities on both sides. 

“Aiden is super explosive, a real playmaker,” Isaac says. “Playing Carter at quarterback really frees us up to play Aiden on defense and run some things on offense to get the ball in his hands.”

‘Those are our rivals. We don’t like them.’

Isaac does not mince words or hedge his statements when it comes to his team’s aspirations. His mission is clear, measurable, and direct, and he does not use abstract terms. 

“Our goal is the same as it was last year, the same it’s been for four years now,” he states. “The first thing we want to do is have a winning season and we finally got over that hump last year.”

Moving through the list of proverbial dragons left to slay, Isaac mentions two opponents by name, one of which will host the Tribe in just a few short days. 

“We want to beat Russell County; we want to beat Taylor County,” the coach deadpans. “Those are our two big rivals. We don’t like them, and we really want to beat those two teams.”

A winning record. A victory over Russell County. A victory over Taylor County. Isaac isn’t done yet. He knows the program’s history, and he wants to rewrite some of it this year. The longer he talks about his team’s goals, the loftier they become.

“We want to be district champs,” he says, noting significance—and the magnitude of his ambition. “That’s never happened here so we want to make history and do that. Lastly, we want to make a playoff run. A playoff run for us is we make it to the second round and win the game—that’s never happened here, so we want to do it.”

The team’s roster is shown below (as well as a team photograph), and the schedule can be viewed here, courtesy of KHSAA.org.

James Winfrey #69
Colton Feese #2
Jamison Karnes #16
Jakobe Miller #6
Martez Davis #50
Joseph Willis #17
Jaxon Rainwater

Byron Rodgers #30
Travez Taylor #55
Hayden Bennett #56
Jakeb Lacy #5
Jetson Grant #10
Ethan Taylor #21
Konnor Dews #3
Blake White #54
Jordan Grider #23

Lane Grant #20
Brayton Coomer #24
Aidan Smith #1
Deshawn Crowdus #22
Marcus Crowdus #53
Kaden Wasson #14
Dillon Wilson #9
Nathan Maynard #59
Kyler Burton #58
Jordan Smallwood #52
Timothy Streeval #33
Carter White #4
Jayden Miller #8
Jace Jones

Ryder Rodgers #32
Mahlon Coblentz #12
Andrew Huff

The 2022 Adair County High School Football Indians

This post is brought to you as part of Adair Drug Tuesday.

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Wes Feese is one of this company's owners and founders. He has previously worked as an editor, news reporter, sportswriter, photographer, and freelance contributor for newspapers across central Kentucky. He grew up in the Egypt community of Adair County and is a graduate of Adair County High School and Lindsey Wilson College.