By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
After starting the season off with a perfect 3-0 record, things began to head south for Scott Russell’s Knox Central Panthers.
Granted, the Panthers (6-4) reached the Class 4A playoffs again, but they posted a 3-4 mark during the final seven games of the regular season while losing in first round action of the Class 4A playoffs for the first time since a 2011 loss to Boyle County.
Injuries played a big role in Knox Central’s struggles down the stretch.
Players such as quarterback Matt Barger, tailback Jonathan Gist and a hand full of offensive linemen battled nagging injuries, leading to the Panthers' struggles scoring points.
Knox Central was shut out during its final two regular season games, and managed to only score 14 points in a 31-14 loss to Mercer County in first round action of the Class 4A playoffs.
“Injuries really set us back,” Russell said. “There is no doubt about that, but we don't make excuses. Injuries hurt us more so this year than any other year I can remember as a coach. It is what it is, but we played hard and in the end, though, we just didn’t have enough gas in the tank.
“It really put our kids in a tough spot, but football is football and it happens,” he added. “There were some positive things that came out of it, and one was our younger kids got to see a whole lot more playing time. That experience will help in the long run. We started five freshmen the other night in the playoff game against Mercer County. It put us at a disadvantage, but the experience was valuable for these younger kids.”
Despite the struggles, Russell feels like his team will be fine heading into next season.
“We had seven seniors and three of those played significant time for us,” he said. “Were losing a lineman, and a tailback, and we’re really getting everyone else back. I'm looking forward to it. We will have some holes to fill, but I like what we are returning.”
The departure of Jonathan Gist will hurt, but Russell believes his team will be fine in the long haul.
“'G’ was a great player for us,” he said. “We’re going to have to improve and have some players step up, and I believe we will. The big thing for us is that we need to go into the weight room and start working.”
Russell admitted his team had a lot of positives come out of the 2013 campaign. Although he would have liked for his team's season to last longer, overall, he liked his players’ efforts on the grid.
“We played hard and played good at times,” he said. “We played for the district championship once again, and I believe we'll be right there again next season.
“We had some key players out against Russell County, and it just began to carry over after that game. It was just one of those years injuries got the best of us — it just wasn’t our year.”
By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
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The Tri-County Sports Authority youth football league, which usually fields in the neighborhood of 200 players, is about to get a little more crowded this season.
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These cool summer days are reminding me of the cool football Friday nights of September and October, and with that said, these cooler temperatures have me in the mood of writing about things to come for our local football teams in the Tri-County.
It’s never too early to talk about what games will be the big ones for the Tri-County high school football fans to watch this upcoming season. I’ve tried to narrow my list down to 10 games, but honestly, it really wasn’t easy to do — but I did manage to do it.
Let’s just say things should be very entertaining, and interesting, for you the fan this season.
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Ready to Reload
Even though Knox Central head football coach Scottie Russell has seen the departure of two of the program’s best tailbacks due to graduation in the past two years, he isn’t concerned.
Shelton was a hero by any definition
The word hero is used a little too loosely for my taste these days.
To be honest, it’s been used way too much for a long time and I’m just as guilty as the next guy.
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