A sure sign that summer break is winding down is when teams that participate in what are classified as fall sports hit the practice field.
If you were out and about any time last week, odds are you caught a glimpse of one of our many high school teams as they got back to work. I spent a good amount of time last week making my rounds to most of these teams and I’m going to share a few of my thoughts on each of the sports and expand a little by highlighting the teams I feel like could be at the head of the class this season.
Since the district alignments are as easy to understand as Chinese trigonometry, I’ll focus on the 13th Region when talking about volleyball.
A lot of people will probably assume that the Corbin Lady Redhounds have to be the team to beat this season since they are coming off a 13th Region Championship, but I’m not so sure of that.
Yes, Liberty Roberts will have her team ready to play, but the loss of Vanessa Wiseman, Landry Jung and Hannah Harris to graduation is going to be felt by Corbin. I expect Whitley County to not only challenge the Lady Redhounds for the region title this season, but I look for David Halcomb’s squad to have one of the best seasons they’ve had in a while.
South Laurel, Jackson County and Harlan County will be in the mix as well and I expect Lynn Camp and Knox Central both to make huge improvements this season, too.
• Girls’ soccer
On the girls’ side of things, the South Laurel Lady Cardinals are coming off a trip to the state semifinals where they lost to a Notre Dame team that was ranked No. 1 for much of the regular season.
With that in mind, the Lady Cardinals have to be at the top of the list as one of the teams to beat, but Corbin is right on their trail. Given the fact that those two teams were the only ones with a winning record last season, it’s really a two-horse race.
I expect Whitley County and North Laurel to make improvements this season, but those improvements most likely won’t catapult either team past Corbin or South Laurel.
• Boys’ soccer
Some teams don’t have to rebuild, they just have to reload. That’s the case for Armando Cima and his soccer Redhounds.
Year in and year out, Cima seems to have a boatload of young players who step up and make a name for themselves or at least do more than their part to help the team stack up wins.
Since they are coming off an Elite Eight showing in the state tournament, Corbin is most likely considered the favorite to win the 13th Region, with North Laurel nipping at their heels.
The Jaguars beat Corbin in the 49th District title game last season, but Cima’s squad got revenge in the 13th Region finals a week later. The two of them should be there when the season’s over, but don’t be surprised if someone like Whitley County or South Laurel gets hot and makes a run as the season progresses.
It’s really unfair to rank the football teams locally because they are in several different classes and some teams rarely or never play each other, which is something I feel like should change.
Why would teams like Whitley County and Corbin or Whitley County and Williamsburg, or even Williamsburg and Corbin not want to play each other on a regular basis?
When you think about the distance the teams would have to travel, which would obviously save money, combined with the kind of money that could be made at the gate, games like these are no-brainers.
If home-field advantage is a problem, why not have Union College or University of the Cumberlands play host. More than a good number of people would love to see a high school game played at either of those two venues.
With that off my chest, I expect Williamsburg to be one of the most exciting teams to watch in our area this season and don’t be surprised by another deep postseason run.
Knox Central will be another team to watch, along with Corbin, Whitley County, Lynn Camp and North Laurel. South Laurel has a first-year coach, so the jury is still out on what to expect from the Cardinals.
Like it or not, it’s almost time for school to start back and that means fall sports will be in high gear before you know it.