TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
A familiar face will roam the visiting sideline when Bell County and Knox Central face-off against each other today at Panther Stadium.
Former Knox Central coach Wayne Mills will bring his Bobcats into hostile territory with both teams looking to put an end to one-game losing skids.
The Bobcats (2-2) are coming off a 28-14 loss to Middlesboro, their first defeat to their rival since 1997, while Knox Central (3-1) surrendered 494 rushing yards during last week’s 48-13 loss to Harlan County.
One thing is certain, one of the teams will leave the game riding a two-game losing streak, which has been rare for both programs.
Mills’ squad hasn’t lost consecutive regular season games since opening the 2005 campaign under former coach Dudley Hilton with an 0-2 mark, losing to Knoxville Central, Tenn., and Henry Clay, while the Panthers dropped their first two games, losses to Somerset and North Laurel, to begin the 2009 campaign.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Knox Central coach Scott Russell said. “With having Wayne over there coaching and the fact these two teams haven’t played in a while, it’s going to bring a lot of fan interest. It should be a great ballgame.”
Mills agreed with Russell, but admitted the focus of him coming back to face-off against his former team has been pushed to the back of his mind.
“Heck, right now, I’m trying to figure out how to turn this thing around,” he said. “We lost to Middlesboro for the first time in 16 years and to be honest, it’s just been really crazy for us so far this season. It seems like we’ve seen everything you can so far.
“Against Marion County we had the game delayed because of lightning and then against Whitley County, the game was postponed for around 45 minutes after a serious injury,” Mills added. “And against Middlesboro, the lighting went out and we had to play the following day. It just seems we can’t get anything going.”
Bell County will try to get things going today against a team the Bobcats last beat in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs when Mills was coaching the Panthers.
“We need to get this win, and I’m sure they feel the same way,” Mills said. “Scotty and I are friends and we attend the same church. There will be no winners in any of this.
“This is an important game, but next week’s game is even bigger,” he added. “We need to get some positive things going because we’re playing in a big district game against Wayne County next week.”
Russell said his team needs to gain some confidence as well after suffering its first loss of the season last week.
“We took one on the chin last week and we really didn’t give our fans their money’s worth,” he admitted. “We’ve been working hard this week to improve, and I believe we have. It’s very important to come out and play well this week. A true sign of a champion is how fast you can get up after being knocked down.
“Bell County is going to run the ball, and we’ve got to be ready for that,” Russell added. “They are a well-coached team, and we’ve got to find a way to slow them down. The game is going to be won with the offensive line. We feel like we have something to prove this week. Our kids had to refocus a bit after last week’s loss, and I believe we’ll be ready to play.”