TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Les Dixon For the Tines-Tribune
The Lynn Camp Wildcats are searching for their first playoff win since 2005, and they're going to be hard-pressed to end the seven-year drought Friday against defending region champion Hazard.
The Wildcats (3-7) will try to pull off the upset on the road against the Bulldogs during first round action of the Class A playoffs.
Phil Russell's squad enters the game riding a four-game losing skid while the same can't be said for Mark Dixon's Hazard team.
The Bulldogs (9-1) are currently winners of nine straight, which includes going 4-1 against regional teams this season. Their lone loss came against Pikeville during the first game of the season, losing to the Panthers in a shoot out, 62-50.
“They're the defending region champion and we know we've got our hands full,” Russell said. “We're excited to go up to Hazard and have the opportunity to play them. I've told our kids that every year in the playoffs a No. 4 seed beats a No. 1 seed, and we believe that can happen this week.”
But to do so, Lynn Camp must find a way to stop Hazard's high-scoring offensive attack. The Bulldogs are averaging 36.8 points per game and 475 yards on offense, while the Wildcats defense is allowing 37.8 points per game.
“We've got to continue to improve,” Russell said. “I saw some improvement last week against Middlesboro, but we need to continue to improve, especially on defense.”
Hazard is led by a strong running attack of Brandon Jones, and the arm of quarterback Tanner Moore. Moore has completed 113-of-167 pass attempts this season for 1,877 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Jones has been virtually unstoppable in the backfield. He's carried the ball 128 times for 1,638 yards and 16 touchdowns. Moore's main receiving threats are Christopher Hudson and Trey Higgins.
Hudson has 39 receptions for 795 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Higgins has 22 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns.
“They've got a lot of weapons,” Russell said. “We've got to find a way to slow them down. They can put up a lot of points quick, and we can't allow them to do that.”
Russell said he's hoping his team can control the football with an impressive option-type offense he has been running lately. He's got the talent to do just that with players such as Aaron Mills, Keanu Nolan and Tommy Hatfield.
“For us to win, we've got to control the ball,” Russell admitted. “We can't turn the ball over and we can't make mistakes. We've got to stay away from penalties, too.
“We've got to find a way to slow them down,” he added. “Their quarterback is very good and they've also got a good running back, too.”