TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

August 30, 2012

Panthers will face tough test in Friday’s Appalachian Bowl

CORBIN — 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.”

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