By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
The Knox Central Panthers are looking to go 3-0 for the first time under coach Scottie Russell, but to do so, they’re going to have to find a way to get past Johnson Central.
The Golden Eagles don’t possess the running talents of former tailback J.J. Jude, but still return a solid nucleus of talent that has surprised many by defeating North Carolina’s Hayesville High School (39-7) and Perry Central (44-36).
“They still like to do what they’ve done the past several years, but they are more balanced in the backfield,” Russell said. “They are very big and strong and for us to win, we’re going to have to find a way to stop their running game.
“They also like to throw the ball occasionally, too,” he added. “They’ve got a quarterback that likes to run with the ball, so we’ve got a lot of stuff we need to focus on coming into this game.”
Knox Central is coming off a 14-7 win over Karns, Tenn. and Russell said there are a lot of things his team needs to improve on, despite the Panthers’ 2-0 record
“I thought we played well last week, but that game was tough on us,” he said. “We still have a couple of starting offensive linemen out and once we get them back, it will make things better.
“We don’t play the early game now after they switched us to the late game, so it is what it is,” Russell added. “Our guys are going to have to wait around to play, so that’s the only drawback. They are very excited to get to play in another bowl game, so I’m sure they don’t mind waiting around just a bit longer.
The Panthers enter the game with tailback Jonathan Gist leading the way with 310 rushing yards on 47 carries while senior tailback Jeffrey Canady isn’t too far back with 214 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
Quarterback Devon Evans started the season red-hot, completing eight-of-11 pass attempts during Week One’s 40-21 victory over South Laurel, but threw some interceptions last week. He has completed 12-of-23 pass attempts for 240 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“We need to shore up some things with our passing game,” Russell said. “We need to get it going and we also need to work on our assignments, too.
“The key for us is we’ve got to find a way to put teams away,” he added. “We’ve got to put the nail in the coffin and if we can do that, we’ve got a chance to win Friday.”
By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
- 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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