Few schools in the Tri-state area have enjoyed the success that the Beechwood Tigers have experienced over the past two decades. The school has laid claim to 11 state titles, including two in the last three years in Kentucky Class 1A.
The 2009 season was a bit of a rebuilding year at the school as the Tigers had one of their smallest senior classes in recent memory. Head coach Noel Rash was forced to turn many underclassmen in his team's bid for a three-peat.
Despite the challenges Beechwood advanced all the way to the state semi-finals before losing to Mayfield. The outcome left a sour taste in the Tigers' mouth, but also provided a valuable lesson to the team's youth.
"Last year's loss at Mayfield will help us more than any game last year," stated junior-to-be Joey Staten. "The feeling we had walking off that field last year is what drives us every day to work hard and not have that feeling at all this year."
Staten is just one of several members from Beechwood's Class of 2012 that made a splash a year ago. The group has been together for some time and already enjoyed a great deal of success, including winning the Northern Kentucky title as freshmen. Now with a year of valuable experience under their belts they will look to add some hardware at the varsity level.
"Our class is so special because of the close bond we all have. We all hang out together and we all have the same goal to win a state championship," Staten claimed. "We also understand that just because we were good as freshman it's going to take a lot of work to become state champions."
If the Tigers are going to add a 12th state title they will need a big effort from Staten. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound linebacker is a difference maker on defense and will be counted on to be a leader for the team.
Staten is a coach's dream. He possesses a great understanding for the game and a strong desire to keep learning while continuing to hone his football skills. He knows that success doesn't just happen and that you have to work for it.
"We started our lifting and running program in January and have been working really hard," Staten said. "As a team we have really improved our strength and speed and I have noticed an increase in these in myself also. My speed and agility are the biggest parts of my game that need work. I am not where I want to be yet."
Playing at Beechwood is a great honor, but also comes with a ton of pressure. Staten is not only aware of the Tigers' Tradition, but he also displays a great appreciation for it.
"We really feel like we owe it to the other guys that have came through the program and worked so hard to get it as good as it is now," Staten stated. "Coach Rash always talks about the guys that have come through our locker room before and we want to continue that."
To this point Staten hasn't drawn much interest on the recruiting trail, but that is likely to change if he continues to progress.
FINAL TAKE: Staten has the ability to dominate games and is poised for a breakout junior campaign. He is a bit undersized for the position to garner significant Division I attention, but the talent is simply too good to think that he won't play at the next level. If Beechwood adds a title this year or next, Staten will definitely play a large role in it.
Written by: Dan Clasgens, TriStateFootball.com