|Steve Pardue by Scott Sickler|
Tonight ESPN 2 will televise the LaGrange vs Carver-Columbus game at 6pm cst/7pm est.
Joker Phillips, Head Football Coach at the University of Kentucky, said, " Steve is as good of a coach that I've been around. He really knows how to relate to kids." Phillips went on say that he has known Steve Pardue for 12 or 13 years and believes there is a number of reasons why Pardue has been so successful. Coach Phillips said, "He's organized and they provide a great environment. Steve has a great staff and he knows the X's and O's."
LaGrange will be a big under dog this evening against a loaded Carver-Columbus team that boast one of the best running backs in the nation. LaGrange Defensive Coordinator Donnie Branch stated that LaGrange did not have as many of the D-1 prospects as in prior years. Branch said that LaGrange Linebacker, Chauncey Smith (#2), would definitely be one player to watch. Smith has committed to Southern Mississippi.
Steve Pardue said," They've got a really good football team and probably have eleven to fifteen D-1 prospects."Carver-Columbus running back Isaiah Crowell may be the best running back in the country according to Pardue. Coach Pardue commented that the ESPN game had generated a lot of excitement. "We had 700 t-shirts and we sold out," said Coach Pardue.
A product of Christian County's football program, Pardue started out as a manager for the late Coach Fred Clayton. Franklin High School (TN) Head Football Coach Craig Clayton was Pardue's position coach at Christian County. Clayton said, "My dad would pick Steve up everyday and take him to practice. He started out as a manager and ended up a scholarship athlete." Clayton stated that Pardue was a solid high school player who turned into a really good athlete at Austin Peay State University. "I told Steve that if he ever made it to a state championship game that we would be there" In 2001 Pardue would make it to his first title game. "Anita and the kids we loaded up the car and drove to Cedartown, Georgia to be with Steve. The good news was he won, the bad news was that we drove all the way back to Kentucky that night."
Coach Pardue commented that while he may be out matched tonight his team had one advantage. "Our kids believe they can win and that makes a big difference". "As excited as I am about the opportunity to play on ESPN I just know how excited my mom would have been and wished she could be here to see it". Coach Pardue's mother passed away in January of this year.
Win or lose, Coach Steve Pardue has enjoyed an exceptional career and he can be assured that friends, family and fans will be watching all across Kentucky.
*My Thanks to Joker Phillips, Craig Clayton, Donnie Branch, and Steve Pardue for taking time to interview. Permission to use photographs from the LaGrange HS Website provided by Donnie Branch.