By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
The high school football playoffs start this week and the Corbin Redhounds (5-5) may as well be looking in the mirror as they hit the road to face off against LaRue County (5-5).
The two teams share identical records, both reaching the .500 mark after winning their respective regular season finales last week. The Hawks came away with a 49-7 win over Washington County, while Corbin picked up a 42-13 victory over Harlan.
“We both try to focus on the run and I think we've thrown the football more than they have this season, believe it or not,” Jewell said. “They've only thrown the football around 50 times this year and we've thrown it around 70.
“They do a good job running and they're good at doing some misdirection stuff,” he added. “They're going to give you a good test and a variety of sets with the running attack and they have a couple good backs that do a good job for them, so we'll have to work at stopping the run.”
The backs Jewell spoke of are Caleb Canter, who leads the team with 595 yards and nine touchdowns on 82 carries, and Matt Hornback, who has tallied 536 yards and six touchdowns on 100 carries.
As a team, the Hawks have racked up rushing yards at a rate of 173.8 yards per game. Corbin is a shade over 50 yards better at 224 yards per game.
Leading the way on the ground for Corbin is senior Matt Jewell, who has carried the football 123 times for 682 yards and nine touchdowns. Of the Redhounds' 189 yards per game, Jewell has accounted for 44 percent of those on average, tallying 85 yards per game.
Defensively, the two teams are just as much alike as they are on offense. The Redhounds are giving up 19.7 points per game, while Larue County has allowed 18.7. The turnover battle does sway to the Hawks just a bit as they've grabbed eight interceptions and recovered nine fumbles, while Corbin has five interceptions and nine fumbles recovered on the season.
Given the statistics, everyone knows that no matter how well two teams match up against each other, the guys on the field are what decides who the winner will be. Coming off a momentum building win to close out regular season play, Jewell said despite the fact his team has had to practice inside all week, he feels like his team is ready to go mentally.
“We've been indoors both days because of the weather, but we hope to get outside and get some work done,” he said. “As far as learning and getting to what we have to do this week, we have to get out there and physically do it to see where we're at.
“As far as their attitude, the kids are excited because we've been able to keep meeting the goals we've set after the loss to Bell County,” he added. “The next goal is to get a win in the playoffs and that's where we're at this week with what we want to accomplish.”
In the end, Jewell said he feels like there are a few things his team will need to do if they want to get that first playoff win and he said they are usually no secret to anybody.
“We really need to get in there and score some points early and take control,” he said. “If we do that, that allows us to hopefully take their crowd out of the game and that's a big thing when you talk about going on the road in the playoffs.
“We'll try to go in and do that and see what happens from there,” he added.