Fort Campbell | September 21, 2017
The Falcons and the Eagles clashed on the gridiron Friday night at Fryar Stadium in what has become known as the Army Bowl.
The annual Army Bowl pits Kentucky’s two Army high schools against each other for a year’s worth of bragging rights. Despite Fort Knox High School’s tough defensive line, Fort Campbell High will hold on to the trophy for the 15th year after a shutout.
As the game began the Eagles took control of the ball, but the Falcons came out strong and forced a turnover in the first 10 seconds of the game. The Falcons scored their first touchdown with 11:50 on the clock when senior wide receiver Julian Roberts intercepted the ball, but a flag on the play invalidated the score.
Undeterred, the Falcons got the points back when senior halfback Denoris Buchanan, scored a touchdown 32 seconds later, plus the one-point conversion by sophomore kicker Jhony Paniagua-Solis.
Unwilling to fall so quickly, the Eagles defense stepped up its game and managed to block the Falcons from scoring again until the end of the first quarter when Buchanan earned another touchdown. This was quickly followed by Paniagua-Solis’ conversion, bringing the game to 14-0.
The Eagles defense redoubled their efforts again nearly managing to hold off the Falcons for the entire second quarter. With just 20 seconds left in the half, Buchanan pushed his way into the end zone, bringing the score to 20-0.
After halftime, both the Falcons and the Eagles came back renewed. The Falcons scored a single touchdown in the third quarter, with Buchanan earning a touchdown with 9:08 on the clock. Paniagua-Solis followed up with a successful conversion, 27-0.
Despite the best efforts of the Eagles’ defensive line, the Falcons managed one more touchdown in the fourth quarter. Buchanan ran the ball in from the 45-yard line with 9:28 left on the game clock. Paniagua-Solis’ conversion brought the score to 34-0.
“Overall I’m proud of them, they played hard,” said Joshua Robins, Falcons head football coach. “We just have to keep that going.”
The past few seasons have been tough for the Falcons, but focusing on the basics is getting them back into winning games, Robins said. “Every game we’ve been in – except the Glasgow game – we just find a way to hurt ourselves,” he said. “When we lost four touchdowns today, it’s us doing it to ourselves. We have to get that fixed before we go into district next week.”
Robins expects the Falcons will use the momentum from this win to keep moving forward, he said.
“We have to keep it going forward,” Robins said. “We know that we can beat everybody in our district. We just have to believe in ourselves and do it.”
During the game, Robins said he saw many of the same issues displayed by the Eagles that he has been working on with his own team
“[Fort Knox] has got some really tough kids. Right now they’re down, the same place that we’ve been the last couple of years. They’ve got to learn to win,” Robins said. “I really respect those guys.”
Sam Wilson, Fort Knox head coach, does not expect his team will take the loss any harder than usual.
“We competed. We didn’t play good football, but we competed,” Wilson said. “We played a good Fort Campbell team. A team that’s better than mine right now.”
Many Eagles players are out for injuries, so the team played the best they could with what they had, Wilson said.
“We don’t harp on the tradition of the Army Bowl,” he said. “These guys are young. They don’t know about the tradition. All they know is we came to play football and that we were going to play for a trophy.”
Falcons quarterback Abdel Howard Jr., senior, said he is happy with his performance.
“I think I did decent,” Howard said. “Coming over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting better at my position. I’ve just been focusing on reading my keys on defense and offense … I feel like I’m doing really good right now.”
He aims to support his team and in return, Howard said, the team has his back.
“My team did good; they held their own,” he said. “We came together as a team. Everyone was swarming on the ball on defense. We all just had a good game plan.”
Although the Falcons will keep the Army Bowl trophy for another year, Howard is impressed with the Eagles.
“As with any opponent, you can never underestimate them,” he said. “They’re always going to come out hard. They were a hard-working team. They moved the ball a couple of times. We just couldn’t let them.”
Buchanan was named Falcons player of the game after scoring five touchdowns.
“I could have done better at choosing the holes I was going through, and on that one fumbled play, holding onto the ball tighter,” he said. “But overall I think I did pretty good.”
Buchanan said he could not have done it alone, adding the entire Falcons defense should be named players of the game.
“To be honest, they covered big holes for me all night,” he said. “Defense was unstoppable.”
Despite the loss, from what Buchanan saw on the field he believes Fort Knox is on the rise.
“They do a lot of good things. They’re just not completely there yet,” he said. “But they’re a good opponent.”
The Falcons now stand at 2-3. Next they will travel to Trigg County High School in Cadiz to take on the Wildcats at 7 p.m. Friday. The Wildcats are 3-2.