By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
The Knox Central Panthers flexed their muscles last week during a 40-21 win over South Laurel and they hope to do the same thing Saturday against Karns, Tenn. during the opening game of the Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic.
The Panthers (1-0) lived up to their pre-season hype by jumping out to a 27-0 lead against South Laurel before pulling off the 19-point victory.
Knox Central accumulated 536 yards of total offense in the win, as the Panthers ran for 378 yards on the ground in the win while passing for 158.
But that’s not all — for the second consecutive week, the Knox Central secondary picked off five passes with three of those coming from Matthew Barger.
“I hope we can continue that,” Knox Central coach Scottie Russell said. “Our secondary has really done a fantastic job so far and I am very proud of them. When you have 10 interceptions in two weeks, that’s pretty impressive.”
Russell admitted his team would have its hands full with Karns, though.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen on film is they have a lot of team speed,” he said.
“I really don’t know what to expect, but I guarantee you they’re going to be good.
“They’ve got a quarterback that likes to scramble and he also likes to throw it downfield, so we’re going to have our hands full,” he added. “We’ve got to be ready to play.”
Knox Central can counter with a lot of weapons on offense.
The Panthers were led in rushing last week by Jonathan Gist’s 153 rushing yards on 23 carries while star tailback Jeffrey Canady, who only played in two quarters last week, ran for two touchdowns and 113 yards on only nine carries. He also had three receptions for 61 yards.
“I thought we really ran the ball well last week,” Russell said. “For us to be successful, we’ve got to do the same thing this week. We need to continue to move the ball and establish the run.”
Knox Central is also a threat throwing the ball, too.
Senior Devan Evans started his first varsity game behind center last week and completed eight-of-11 pass attempts for 158 yards and two touchdowns while Barger led the team with three receptions for 93 yards.
“The big thing for us is to not turn the ball over on offense and create turnovers on defense,” Russell said. “Our defense needs to stay in its lanes and we can’t allow them to have big plays.
“It’s an honor to be playing in a bowl game like this and we would really like to come away with a win,” he added.
Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.