By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
Heading into the 2012 season, the South Laurel Cardinals were expected to be one of the more potent offenses in the area, as well as compete for a district title.
Larry Welch’s squad returned a quarterback who had tallied over 2,400 yards through the air in 2011, along with a receiving corps that had accounted for well over 1,000 of those yards.
South Laurel also returned its top threat out of the backfield in Devin Pennington, who had rushed for 626 yards and nine touchdowns the season before.
Coming into the season, Welch said he expected a mix of run and pass, while depending on several go-to guys when the big plays were needed as his team looked to make a postseason run.
“I really think we have a good mix of kids that can do several different things on the football field,” Welch said, before the season started. “We have some kids that we think can be playmakers and come out and lead this team all season.”
Well, the road to the football state championship officially gets underway this week and unfortunately, the Cardinals are not in the hunt.
After starting the season 1-1, the Cardinals dropped their next eight games to finish with a 1-9 mark, tied with Barren County for dead-last in 5A.
To say that Welch is disappointed would be an understatement.
“I really expected us to compete this season with the kids we had coming back, but it just didn't happen for us,” Welch said. “We had quite a bit of skill coming in to the season, but things just didn’t pan out for one reason or another.
“We started out with some experienced kids on the field and when you look at some of the injuries we suffered and some other things that happened, we end up playing with quite a few young guys on the field,” he added. “Any time you take inexperienced kids off the field and replace them with kids that are not familiar with situations, you’re going to struggle.”
After losing to Knox Central in the season opener, the Cardinals picked up a 54-6 win over Lynn Camp, flexing some of the offensive muscle they were expected to have before the season started.
After a 62-13 loss to Russell County on Aug. 31, the Cardinals never recovered. Welch and company did come close to pulling off an upset before falling to Southwestern, 42-41 in overtime, but lost by an average of 41 points from that point on to close out the season.
Welch said he felt like the lack of any type of consistency can also go back to the fact his team never seemed to be as healthy as it could have been.
“When you talk about those go-to guys, you really have a lot of the time this season where they were injured at some time or another,” he said. “That consistency that we talk about comes from the players becoming familiar with each other, so when you have kids that haven’t played together all that much, it affects your ability to gel as a team.
“I guess what it comes down to is the fact you have to be able to remain healthy if you’re going to compete,” he added. “It’s really tough to compete in our district as it is, so when you try to do that with a relatively inexperienced team due to as many injuries as we have had, it really makes things a whole lot tougher.”
By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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