By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
In a season that has seen North Laurel eclipse or tie many program records, they're hoping to continue their record-breaking ways against Perry Central on the road Friday during first round action of Class 5A playoffs.
The Jaguars are looking to surpass the 1994 North Laurel team's eight-win total by defeating the Commodores Friday, but more importantly, a postseason win would be a program first.
“We're going into this game with hopes of winning our first playoff game," North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said. “Not having a playoff win is always in the back of your mind, but it's gotta start somewhere, so why not now?
“You know, we've also talked about how these kids probably don't know the history of North Laurel football," he added. “I don't believe they understand the struggles this program has had."
He's hoping those struggles can end Friday against a Perry Central squad that is 5-5 and coming off a 34-31 win over Pike Central.
“We're hoping the odds are with us this time,” Larkey said. “We haven't fared well when we go down to play Perry Central. We've had no luck at Perry Central, and we're hoping to get refs that don't know either program. We're hoping to have neutral refs because it hasn't been that way in the past.”
Perry Central is getting healthy at the right time. Nathan Pray will move back to the wide out position after playing quarterback most of the season due to an injury. Pray completed 72-of-140 passes for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns, while carrying the ball 124 times for 773 yards and eight touchdowns.
Devon Brewer leads Perry Central with 787 rushing yards and seven touchdowns while John Toomer, former UK basketball player Carlos Toomer's son, leads the Commodores with 41 receptions for six touchdowns 445 receiving yards and. Teammate Tyler Fugate has 27 catches for 386 yards and five touchdowns.
“Perry Central is a good team,” Larkey said. “They've played a very tough schedule and has lost to some very good teams.”
The Commodores will also have to find a way to contain North Laurel's offense, which is averaging 308.5 yards of total offense and 197.3 yards rushing per game.
The Jaguars are led by tailback Gabe Blair, who has 1,643 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns while Michael Nelson has 572 yards on the ground and six touchdowns along with 408 passing yards and one touchdown.
Perry Central is allowing 161.8 rushing yards and 30.7 points per game this season.
“We've got to play a mistake-free game,” Larkey said. “We've also got to find a way to slow them down and limit penalties on both sides of the ball. If we can keep them off the field as much as possible, we've got a good chance.”
North Laurel opened last season's first round match-up against Whitley County, leading, 14-7, at halftime before losing. Larkey is hoping last year's experience in the post-season will carry over to his Jaguars this season.
“Our kids are prepared and I believe we've got experience now and we know we can't let that happen again,” he said.
“Our kids have realized this could be our last game if we don't play well,” Larkey said. “We want to keep this season going, and I believe we have a better chance of advancing this year than last year. We've got more experience, and the kids realize they don't want their season to come to an end.”
North Laurel hoping for program's first-ever playoff win
By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
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