By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
If you want to go and see a match-up between two of the better teams in the mountains, go no further than today’s SEKC Grid-O-Rama match-up between Knox Central and Harlan County.
It might only be a scrimmage, but you can expect both teams to be ready to play when the game is scheduled to kick-off around 8 p.m.
“Our kids are ready for this,” Knox Central coach Scott Russell said. “The big thing is to get our kids playing in a game situation. I know we’re excited to get the season started.”
The Panthers will be going against a Black Bear squad that many consider one of the top teams in Class 5A this season.
Even though Harlan County graduated the likes of John Middleton, who led the team with 2,141 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns last season, Tom Larkey’s squad returns another solid nucleus of talent.
Cole Wilson, Treyvon Long, Zach Chitwood, Carson Whitehead and Scotty Bailey will be the go-to guys on both offense and defense this season for Harlan County.
Bailey (227 rushing yards and 211 passing yards), Long (766 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns), Whitehead (333 rushing yards and seven touchdowns) and Chitwood (120 rushing yards) are set to replace Middleton while Long (13 receptions, 258 receiving yards) and Wilson (16 receptions and 232 receiving yards) are the Black Bears main receiving threats.
On defense, Whitehead is one of the state's best players, leading the team with 191 tackles and five interceptions last season while Long had four interceptions and 59 tackles.
“They are a very good team,” Russell said. “We know we’re going to have our hands full, but we also know we have a very good team, too.”
With that said, Russell doesn’t expect either team to show much on offense or defense during today’s scrimmage with both teams facing-off against each other on Sept. 13 at Harlan County in regular-season play.
“I don’t expect either of us to show a lot,” Russell admitted. “I think it will be a good test for our quarterback (Casey Diamond). He’ll be in front of a big crowd and he’ll be able to work on growing and playing in a situation like that.
“I think it’s key for him to see some things like he’ll see in this scrimmage,” he added. “Especially with the opportunity to go up against a team like Harlan County, it will be good for him.”
Russell said the scrimmage will be a good measuring stick for some players that are vying for playing time.
“We will get to evaluate some guys and the biggest thing is we’ll be able to look at some other kids at the receiving and defensive back positions,” he said. “This will be a good opportunity for us.”
Knox Central will travel to play Harlan County today
By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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