By John Stepp For The Times-Tribune
There may not be a better game in the Bluegrass this Friday night when the North Laurel Jaguars travel to Pulaski County to take on the Maroons.
The Jaguars will take the stiffest defense in Class 5A, giving up just 12 points per game, while Pulaski County brings the highest scoring offense, averaging right at 50 points per game. With both teams entering the game with an undefeated record, the winner will take the driver’s seat in what could be the toughest district in the mountains.
“Pulaski County has the best offense in this part of the state. I wish it was the best defense against the best offense, but I don’t know,” said North Laurel Coach Chris Larkey. “Their offense can’t be stopped. We can just hope to slow it down.”
The Maroons’ high potent offense is led by sophomore quarterback Riley Hall. Hall is tied for the fourth most passing yards in his class, with 1,032 yards, while also throwing for 12 touchdowns. Hall is also a threat running the ball, leading the team with 283 yards on the ground. The Jaguars’ defense must do a good job of containing Hall to have any chance winning the game.
“He has improved a whole lot. He is much better than he was last year,” said Larkey. “I think he has gotten a lot faster this year. He is a really good quarterback and does a great job in that offense. We have to do a good job on him to slow them down.”
Even with the weapons on Pulaski’s side of the ball, the Jaguars will bring their own offensive threats into Friday’s district game. North Laurel’s senior duo of running back Gabe Blair and quarterback Michael Nelson have been difficult to stop this season. Blair leads the Jaguars with 545 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, while Nelson is right behind him with 451 yards and seven touchdowns. Larkey hopes the combination of Blair and Nelson will help keep the ball out of the hands of the Maroons’ offense.
“We have to do a good job running the football. We have to make sure that we can control the clock and keep the ball in our hands,” said Larkey. “If we come out and they hold us on three downs and force us to punt, we’ve done what they wanted us to do. We have to keep the ball and score when we have it.”
Although the Jaguars are one of the best rushing teams in the state, Larkey doesn’t want his offense to be one-dimensional. North Laurel wide receivers Cole Lewis and Jaythus Riley will be expected to make plays when Nelson finds them through the air.
“We don’t want teams to be able to put nine or 10 guys in the box and dare us to throw the football. If we’re going to win big games, we have to be able to throw the ball,” said Larkey. “We have kids who can catch the football and make plays for us. We’ll need them to do that this Friday.”
With two of the top teams in Class 5A and such contrasting styles, it’s difficult to predict who’ll win on Friday. But, whoever pulls it out could possibly go on to take the district title.
“This is a big game for us. It’s the biggest game we’ve played so far,” said Larkey. “They’re a very good team, so we’ll have to show up and play hard.”
No. 7 North Laurel will face No. 2 ranked Pulaski County Friday
By John Stepp For The Times-Tribune
- Local Sports
Lady Redhounds roll past Whitley
The Corbin Lady Redhounds exploded for 11 runs in the first inning, and never looked back during their 13-0 rout of 50th District foe Whitley County.
The Whitley County Colonel tennis team picked up a win over Clay County, but the Lady Colonels dropped their match with the Lady Tigers this past week.
Fear 'Les' Diamond Rankings
The Lady Jaguars continue to show they’re going to be tough to beat.
After losing four straight games just two weeks ago, the Corbin Redhounds have bounced back to win seven of their last eight, including back-to-back district wins over the South Laurel Cardinals.
Roberts steps down as Corbin volleyball coach
Her time at the helm of the Corbin Lady Redhounds volleyball program may not have been a very long one, but the past three years have been successful for Liberty Roberts.
Williamsburg, Corbin bring home SEKC track titles
The Corbin High School boys track team brought home a first place finish at the Southeast Kentucky Conference (SEKC) meet at Knox Central, finishing with a team score of 152.
Lady Cards cruise past Southwestern, 11-1
The red-hot South Laurel Lady Cardinals keep rolling along, winning their ninth game in a row by upending visiting Southwestern Tuesday, 11-1, in six innings.
Mikayla Vires continues to mow down opponents as she recorded a no-hitter during North Laurel’s 10-0 rout of Somerset Tuesday.
- Smashing Win
- Whitley County knocks off B'ville, 7-0
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Lady Redhounds roll past Whitley