By John Stepp For the Times-Tribune
With a 6-1 record, the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets will be heavily favored when they travel to Berea to take on the Pirates this Friday.
The Yellow Jackets were in a similar situation last year when they hosted Berea, but found themselves fighting to win after the Pirates took them to overtime. Despite Berea’s 2-5 record, Coach Jerry Herron and his Williamsburg squad are preparing for another battle this season.
“They have been in a lot of those games this year. I know every coach says it, but they are really better than their record indicates,” said Herron. “We were in the same boat last year, and they took us to overtime. We weren’t focused, and overlooked them, and it was a fight. We played poorly, and we’re lucky to win. This year, we have to be excited and ready to play. We can’t go up there and make mistakes.”
Mistakes have been rare for this Williamsburg team, who was ranked 4th in Class A in the latest AP poll. With their only loss coming to a tough Oneida, Tenn. team, the Yellow Jackets are averaging a whopping 48 points per game on offense, while only allowing 10 points per game, which is the best in Class A in Kentucky. Herron doesn’t look to change the game plan against the Pirates, bringing a high-powered offense and stingy defense to Berea.
The focus of the Berea offense will be senior running back Hunter Wilson and senior offensive lineman Daniel Hubbard. Herron considers Wilson and Hubbard the Pirates’ best players and will look to stop the two on Friday.
“They do a lot of the same things that most of the other teams we’ve played do. They like to run the ball, get three or four yards, here and there, and play hard-nosed defense,” said Herron. “We have to make sure we’re focused and execute on offense and play in our gaps and stop their running game on defense.”
Like most teams, the success of the Yellow Jackets greatly depends on their offensive and defensive lines, which will be a focus this week for Williamsburg.
“I think it always starts in the trenches. With our offense, our offensive line has to do a good job protecting the quarterback, and blocking in the running game,” said Herron. “Our defensive linemen have to do a good job holding their gap this week because they have a pretty good run game.
“Our linebackers have to be able to get to the ball,” he added. “On both sides of the ball, our linemen have to play well. That’s where it’s at.
Because of the offensive line play, Williamsburg has put up some impressive stats this season. Junior quarterback Dalton Sizemore has thrown for 1,745 yards and 22 touchdowns, while sophomore wide receivers Skylar Griffith and Corey Shelton have caught for 682 and 617 yards, respectively. It’s the same focus that has helped accumulate those stats that Herron is looking for on Friday.
“Berea is not going to buy into all the hype of Williamsburg and our offense and our record,” Herron said. “They’re going to come ready to play football.
“We have to make sure that we show up focused and ready to play,” he added. “The kids remember the game last season, and they don’t want that to happen again. They know they have to come ready.”