Trimble County’s Ray Lafferty tackles Bracken County’s Chase Wilson (16) during Friday’s home opener. (Photo by Devin Rowe)
Trimble County’s Ray Lafferty tackles Bracken County’s Chase Wilson (16) during Friday’s home opener. (Photo by Devin Rowe)
Trimble County took to its home field on Friday night as a varsity football team for the first time since 2017 and while the product on the field produced a familiar result of years past, it was evident that the program had made strides in its three-year rebuild.

The Raiders failed to capitalize on opportunities in a 28-0 loss to Bracken County in the 2020 season opener but Trimble showed spurts of improvement with its young roster. Although not pleased with a loss, head coach Brian Simmins said the return of varsity football was a happy return and that the program is just getting started.

“I won’t lie to you, it’s disappointing,” Simmins said of the season opener. “It’s good to be back on the field and I think our kids can learn from this game. I think we have the opportunities here but we just have to correct some of the little details. We have higher expectations than just being back at the varsity level.”

Bracken County (1-0) took off nearly seven minutes on its first drive of the game that resulted in a one-yard run by Chase Wilson and a successful two-point conversion run by Payton Tully. Trimble responded with a fumble recovery in Bracken territory but coughed up the football on the ensuing play, a pattern that turned out to be the difference in the first half.

Tully ran for a 13-yard touchdown in the second quarter and the Polar Bears forced another Trimble fumble with 7:05 left in the first half with the Raiders again trying to get on the scoreboard. Although unable to capitalize, a third fumble allowed for another Bracken score. Caleb Jefferson ripped the football away from Trimble’s Tucker Smith on a quarterback keeper and ran 66 yards to the end zone, while another Tully two-point conversion put the lead at 22-0 at halftime.

“We could have been better,” Simmins said. “It’s mental mistakes right now and that is something we struggled with last year. Again it is something we can go back to on film then watch it and correct it. It takes awhile to change a culture.”

Trimble’s best opportunity to remove the goose egg off the scoreboard was squandered late in the third quarter when the Raiders marched down inside the 10-yard line but was forced to a turnover on downs after getting as close as the 3-yard line. Bracken got the ball back and later put up its final score of the game with 29 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Wilson hit Tully on a 14-yard pass play.

The Raiders held Bracken scoreless in the final frame, ending the night hanging their hat on a defense that showed signs of both quickness and physicality. But although the defense showed spurts, Simmins said the group was caught off by a change in Bracken’s game plan, causing a few mishaps throughout the night.

“The effort was there but I would also say discipline-wise we have to be more aggressive and fill the holes,” Simmins said. “We kind of prepared for one scheme and they ran a completely different scheme. It made us difficult for us to adjust on the fly.”

Trimble (0-1) visits Shawnee on Friday night.