Kenny Lipsey’s dedication to his football program and its players showed in a major way this season.
The Ridge Spring-Monetta coach is a staple on the Trojan sidelines each Friday night, guiding them to consistent success each year. A freak accident during the biggest game of this year knocked him off that sideline, but it didn’t keep him away from his players.
Lipsey, The Augusta Chronicle’s All-Area South Carolina Coach of the Year, found his Trojans down 24-0 to Lewisville in the Class A quarterfinals Nov. 17.
Entering the second half trailing 24-8, Ridge Spring-Monetta staged a dramatic comeback by scoring 28 unanswered points. A Tyson Bettis touchdown run with just over three minutes left put them over the top and sent them to the Class A semifinals for the second time in three years.
But just before the half, Lipsey and a player accidentally ran into each other as the coach was running downfield to call a timeout.
“He had a helmet on and I didn’t,” Lipsey said.
The coach was relegated to the corner of the field near the ambulance because of a concussion, but he refused a trip to the hospital until the game was over and saw his players complete the thriller.
“They came out and it was like a boxing match,” Lipsey said. “They hit us right in the face and next thing we know we’re down two or three touchdowns. I get hit on the sideline, go to the ambulance with a concussion. I’ve never been a part of something like that. The kids banded together and our coaching staff did a great job keeping them together.”
Despite losing the following week to eventual state champion Lamar, Ridge Spring-Monetta produced another memorable season by going 10-4 and getting to the fourth round.
The season didn’t start as positively as the finish of the quarterfinal, game, however, as the Trojans began 0-2 with losses to Batesburg-Leesville and Saluda. After a 21-7 loss to Williston-Elko pushed their record to 2-3, the Trojans experienced a turning point the following Monday at practice.
After regrouping that day, they went on an eight-game winning streak and entered the playoffs as a No. 2 seed with a first-round bye. The defense pitched four shutouts over that span and allowed single digits in all eight.
“We started looking to the next opponent and got better over the course of the year,” he said. “Our defense came through first and our offense just got better and better every week.”
Lipsey has a positive outlook for Ridge Spring-Monetta’s future. The Trojans have to replace several key pieces, but next season’s team will be senior-laden with several three-year starters on the roster.
That makes for high expectations entering 2018, and with Lipsey’s dedication impacting the program, they expect nothing but more success.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Lipsey said. “We got a chance to replace a couple key guys and have a chance to be really good next year. The future is looking bright.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.