TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

June 23, 2014

Never too early to start looking ahead

CORBIN — Today is the first day of summer, but that doesn’t mean we can’t begin talking about the boys of fall. Yep, that’s right, before you know it Week Zero of high school football will be here. We are two months away from the kick-off of a new season, and I’m ready to see what our local high school football teams have to offer.

With that said, let’s get down to business and take a sneak-peek of what could be in store for each of our local teams in the Tri-County.

Corbin (9-3 overall in 2013)  The Redhounds are coming off a nine-win season, but will be playing under a new coach for the first time since 1999 when former coach Steve Jewell took over for mike Whitaker.

Yep, there is a new coach in town, and Justin Haddix is ready to show the Corbin faithful exactly what he is going to bring to the table. Many believe Corbin will get away from its ground attack from year’s past, and go with throwing the ball a tad bit more, and that just very well could happen, but first things first, Haddix will try to get his team back in line of winning a district championship, something Corbin hasn’t done since 2010. That’s a three-year drought, folks, and don’t be surprised to see Haddix and his players full off the feat this season.

The Redhounds will have some tough games early on against the likes of Pulaski County and Southwestern, but things will get a bit easier before district play begins.

Look for Corbin to battle things out with Bell County for district supremacy, and whoever wins the Oct. 17 battle at Campbell Field will be crowned district champions.

Knox Central (6-5)

Things have went well for the Panthers during the past eight years. They’ve reached post-season play for eight straight seasons, and haven’t had a losing record since going 5-6 during the 2007 campaign. But graduating some key players during the past couple of years might catch up with Scott Russell’s squad this season.

Knox Central will still be one of the top teams in its district, but it’s not a given the Panthers will dominate their opposition like they have in years past.  

Non-district games against teams such as Harlan County, Perry Central and Corbin will test Russell’s squad.

The big question will be if they can finally win the district title that has eluded them the past couple of seasons?

To do so, they must be Russell County at home this season because road district games against both Clay County and rock castle county aren’t guaranteed wins.

Lynn Camp (3-8)  

Could this be the year the Lynn Camp Wildcat football program returns to its winning ways? I think so.

It’s been a long time, and I do mean a long time, since the Wildcats have had consistent success on the gridiron. Lynn Camp’s last winning season came back in 2005, when the Wildcats posted a 9-3 record while advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

Since then, Lynn Camp hasn’t had a winning record (25-62 during that span to be exact) and is 0-7 in the playoffs. The Wildcats last win in the postseason came in 2005 when the Wildcats defeated Hazard on Nov. 4, 38-20.

But with that said, things look to be on the upside for coach Phil Russell’s squad. Russell will be entering his third year as head coach of the Wildcats and has guided his team to a 6-16 so far.

It’s also an exciting time for Lynn Camp with the addition of former Union College coach Tommy Reid to the coaching staff and former Corbin assistant coach Willard Farris along with former South Laurel assistant coach Allen Harris.

And let’s not forget, the Wildcats return some nice talent as well.

I still believe Lynn Camp is a year away from making a push for a district crown, but don’t count out the Wildcats this season.

North Laurel ( 8-3)

The Jaguar football program just seems to be snake bit when it comes to winning in the post-season. North Laurel has never won a playoff game, and had its best chance of getting the monkey of its back last season, but injuries to key players hampered the Jaguars and they lost in first round action to Perry Central, 28-15.

Chris Larkey’s squad graduates a lot of talent off of one of the best, if not the best, teams the Jaguars have ever had, but with that said, they return some talented players, too.

It’s going to be hard for Larkey’s squad to make a push for the district title, though, with Class 5A state runner-up Pulaski County virtually returning most of its nucleus from last season while Madison Southern will be tough to beat with the nation’s top running back returning in Damien Harris. And don’t forget, it looks as if both Southwestern and Lincoln County has gotten better.

Yep, it could be a long season for the North Laurel faithful.

South Laurel (3-7)

The Cardinals football program will inherit its third football coach in as many years as Hunter Jackson takes over. South Laurel used to be one of the most-dominant football programs in the Tri-County, but the Cardinals have struggled since former coach Jep Irwin stepped down in 2005. That’s the same season South Laurel won its last playoff game, too.

Will things get any better this season?

It’s going to be hard, to say the least. The Cardinals did manage to win three games last year, but were held to under 10 points six times during the season and shutout three times. Yep, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2011 would be big for South Laurel.

Whitley County (1-10)  

The Colonels suffered one of their worst seasons in recent memory after going 1-10, and they’ll look to improve under new coach Jason Chappell.

Chappell had some successful season during the late 2000s when he coached at south Laurel, while throwing the ball.

The big question will be if Chappell plans to throw the ball more with the Colonels. Exciting days are ahead for Whitley County.

Williamsburg (11-3)

The Yellow Jackets reached the state title game last season, and have high hopes of doing the same in 2014. They did lose the services of quarterback Dalton Sizemore, but return nine starters back on offense and defense, including Skyler Griffith and Corey Shelton.

Can Williamsburg return to the state title game? Yes.

Do they return enough talent to win the Class A state championship? Never say never, and stay tuned!

 

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