By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
The first round of the playoffs wasn't a good one for Tri-County teams. Yep, we are down to only two teams (Corbin and Williamsburg) after seeing Knox Central, Lynn Camp, North Laurel and Whitley County fall during their respective class' playoff games this past Friday.
Am I surprised to see we only have two teams left?
Injuries really hurt the Panthers in the end while losing two of their best players on their first offensive play hurt the Jaguars' chances as well. Both the Wildcats and Colonels entered games as heavy underdogs, but they both turned in respectable showings when all was said and done.
With that said, we have two teams remaining.
Can they win this week?
Keep reading, and I'll let you know.
Player of the Week
Skyler Griffith, Williamsburg
No player had a game like Griffith did during first round action of the Class A playoffs. Just three minutes into his team's 58-0 win over Jenkins, Griffith had already scored three touchdowns.
No seriously, he had three touchdowns in three minutes. Unbelievable, huh?
Yep, he grabbed a 67-yard touchdown reception, then recovered a fumble and scored, and followed that with a blocked punt that went for a score that led to Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron calling the stretch by Griffith a crazy one.
“It was the craziest thing I have ever seen,” he said. “He scored three touchdowns in just a matter of a few minutes. That really put the game out of hand from the get-go and got us off to a very fast start.”
The defense keeps on rolling
Granted, Corbin allowed an opponent to reach doubles figures for only the third time this season, the Redhound defense didn't disappoint again during its playoff game against Henry County.
After seeing the Wildcat's total 114 rushing yards in the first half while building a 10-3 lead, Corbin's biggest strength the entire season, stepped up during the second half and limited Henry County to only nine rushing yards during the final 24 minutes of action.
Yep, once again, when the going got tough, the Corbin defense got going
North Laurel entered its first round playoff game against Perry Central with high hopes of capturing the football program's first-ever playoff win, but the Jaguars left with another loss while still searching for postseason success.
Coming into its game against the Commodores, I knew this was going to be a hard game to win for Chris Larkey's squad. First off, it's hard to win at Perry Central — plain and simple.
Secondly, the Commodores are a much-improved team. Former Lynn Camp coach David Mitchell has worked wonders with the Commodore defense.
But the big blow came on the game's fifth play. That's when Gabe Blair, the No. 2 leading rusher in Class 5A, and starting tackle Zach Abner, were hurt on the same play.
“We lost our starting tackle and our starting tailback on the same play. If you don’t lose those guys you win the football game. I really believe that,” Larkey said.
I believe North Laurel would have squeaked out a win, too. But it just didn't happen.
Just when you think the Jaguar football program had rid itself of the ghosts of seasons past, they strike again. But it still doesn't put a damper on what type of a season North Laurel had. The Jaguar players have no reason to hang their heads.
I was surprised to see how Henry County almost pulled off the upset win over Corbin. For two-and-a-half quarters the Wildcats lulled the Redhounds to sleep with their running game. Yes, I know Steve Jewell's squad entered the game as the No. 3 seed and was on the road, but they were the favorites entering the game.
Corbin responded though, in fine fashion, as its defense stepped up along with Jake Coppock and Cai Jackson, pulling away to a 24-10 win.
Making a statement
I said this last week and I'll say it again until I'm blue in the face — Williamsburg has flown under the radar in Class A the entire season, but now the Yellow Jackets are beginning to receive the attention they deserve. They have outscored their opponents 105-0 during the past two games, which included last week's 58-0 playoff win over Jenkins.
Williamsburg has built leads of 47-0 against Pineville in the first half and last week a 42-0 lead against Jenkins in the first quarter.
This team is for real folks.
Solid playoff efforts
Let's start with Skyler Griffith's effort for the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets. Scoring three touchdowns during the game's first three minutes is a huge feat. Corbin's Jake Coppock ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Henry County. These two players stepped up when their respective teams needed them most.
Like I said earlier, Knox Central's, Lynn Camp's, North Laurel's, and Whitley County's seasons came to an end with losses in first round playoff action last week.
Knox Central started the season strong, but injuries really hurt the Panthers in the long run as they finished the season losing three in a row. Phil Russell continues to guide the Wildcats in the right direction even though his squad lost their final five games after starting the season with a 3-3 mark. The Jaguars' main goal was to capture a playoff win this season, but early injuries to key players against Perry Central dashed those hopes real quick. And Jim Black's Whitley County Colonels could never get things going. Combine one of the toughest schedules in the state along with nagging injuries throughout the season, and you get a 1-10 season.
The playoff picture
Well, with only two games remaining, the picture is a bit clearer in the Tri-County.
Williamsburg will host Pineville in Class A action with the winner going against the winner of Hazard and Campbellsville. Corbin will hit the road in Class 3A action and play Wayne County. The winner of that game will face-off against the winner of Bell County and Louisville Central.
So with that said, it's time to turn in my picks.
Look for the Yellow Jackets to cruise once again, but I don't expect Pineville to be shut out again. Williamsburg wins, 49-13. Corbin held its own during its first match-up against Wayne County, losing 35-28, but I look for the Cardinals to not look past the Redhounds this week, and pick up a 35-13 win over Corbin.
Big Game This Week
Corbin at Wayne County
This has the makings of a solid game. One of the keys for Corbin is Taylor Waddle. If he's at 100 percent the Redhounds have a good chance of winning. The Corbin passing game will have to keep the Cardinal defense off-balance and Jake Coppock and Brian Nantz will need to come up big running the ball.
Tri-County Rankings for
Nov. 11 to Nov. 15
We have a new No. 1 this week after North Laurel's loss to Perry Central. Williamsburg claims the top spot after winning its sixth straight game, while Corbin moves up a spot to No. 2. The Jaguars fall two spots to No. 3 while Knox Central, South Laurel, Whitley County and Lynn Camp round out the Tri-County Rankings.
They said it
“We lost our starting tackle and our starting tailback on the same play. If you don’t lose those guys you win the football game. I really believe that. The injuries and turnovers cost us tonight. You just can’t turn the ball over like we did." — North Laurel coach Chris Larkey after his team's 28-15 loss to Perry Central.
“We’re very pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish. These seniors have won four district titles in a row and we’re real excited about that. They’ve done good things for us. Our success is a testament to our feeder program, to our boosters club, to our administration, and everyone else that helps keep these kids coming out, equipped, and playing for us. That’s what I like about Williamsburg – we’re all one big family. This is what we’ve always wanted here and we’re excited about it.” — Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron after his team's 58-0 win over Jenkins.
“It's not the way we wanted to go out. Sometimes things are stacked against you. We had a bunch of guys out, that played a part in it. But that's football and Mercer County is a good football team.” — Knox Central coach Scott Russell after his team's 31-14 loss to Mercer County.
“We were close a bunch of times, but we’re just so young and inexperienced. That’s really what hurt us. We were able to move the ball by running it, but we missed the presence of that big fullback that we’ve had in the past. The kids played hard, but we’re just not there yet as far as competing. We just couldn’t string enough plays together to get anything going and it hurt us.” — Whitley County coach Jim Black after his team's 47-22 loss to Pulaski County.
“We knew we couldn’t make mistakes, and we fumbled the opening kick-off and they scored and we knew we were in trouble. It was a bad night to begin with, and then when you commit mistakes like that, you’re not helping yourself at all. Hazard is a very good team. They are a much better team than people think. After playing most of the teams in the region, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them playing for another state title. More than likely, it’s going to come down to them and Williamsburg in the region finals. They are very good, I’ll say that.” — Lynn Camp coach Phil Russell after his team's 50-12 loss to Hazard.
Corbin, Williamsburg lone survivors of playoffs after week one
By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
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It’s never too early to talk about what games will be the big ones for the Tri-County high school football fans to watch this upcoming season. I’ve tried to narrow my list down to 10 games, but honestly, it really wasn’t easy to do — but I did manage to do it.
Let’s just say things should be very entertaining, and interesting, for you the fan this season.
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NORTH LAUREL — Chris Larkey’s North Laurel Jaguar football team is coming off one of its best seasons in program history with hopes of continuing its winning ways this fall.
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To be honest, it’s been used way too much for a long time and I’m just as guilty as the next guy.
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