, Corbin, KY

November 18, 2013

Sole Survivors

Williamsburg is lone Tri-County playoff team still alive, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By Les Dixon

For the Times-Tribune

The second round of high school playoff action is over, and the Tri-County only has one team left standing — the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets.

It’s the same team that I picked at the beginning of the season to be the last team remaining once everything was said and done in Tri-County football action, and Jerry Herron’s squad didn’t let me down.

The Yellow Jackets have flown under the radar the entire season, and to be honest, they are a whole lot better than what many give credit for, in the Tri-County, and across the state.

Herron has built the Williamsburg football program into one of the best in the Tri-County right now, and it hasn’t been an easy job to do.

Williamsburg is currently 58-26 with three straight region title appearances and six district championships since Herron took over in 2007. In the same time frame, Corbin has the best record out of all of the Tri-County teams (66-23) while the Yellow Jackets are No. 2 and Knox Central comes in at No. 3 with a 54-29 record.

That goes to show you why many consider Herron one of the best young coaches in the state.

He and his assistant coaches at the high school level and coaches at the middle school level have turned Williamsburg into a top-notch football program.

My hat’s off to them.

With that said, it’s time for me to take a look at our football teams in the Tri-County.

Player of the Week

The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets

Yep, this week I’m going the team route and giving it to the Yellow Jackets, and deservedly so. Williamsburg has won seven straight and is the last team remaining in the Tri-County, so this week, the award goes to the Williamsburg football program.

Repeat performance

We’ll stay with Williamsburg right now, since the Yellow Jackets won last week in playoff action. Herron’s squad beat Pineville for the second time in three weeks, rolling to an easy 42-0 win over Bart Elam’s Mountain Lions.

Folks, this was a trap game.

Williamsburg could have easily overlooked the Mountain Lions, especially since the Yellow Jackets just came off a 47-0 win over Pineville just a few weeks ago.

But give credit to Herron and his coaching staff. They had the Yellow Jacket players ready from the get-go, as Williamsburg dominated on both sides of the ball.

Herron is now 9-6 in postseason play as Williamsburg head coach.

Tough loss

The Corbin Redhound defense dominated the entire season on the football field, but one team had its number and that team was Wayne County.

Coming into its second round playoff game against the Cardinals, Corbin’s highest points allowed in a game was 35, and who was that to?

Wayne County, of course.

The Cardinals continued to find ways to score points against Corbin’s defense this past Friday, scoring 36 points this time around during their 36-0 shut out of the Redhounds.

Even though Wayne County scored five touchdowns, the Redhound defense held its own throughout the game. It was the Corbin offense that struggled.

Wayne County limited Corbin to -28 rushing yards in the first half and four rushing yards the entire game, thanks in part to an impressive Cardinal pass rush.

The Redhounds struggled moving the ball the entire game against the Cardinal defense, and couldn’t muster up any points.

The shut out marked the second time during the past five weeks Corbin had been blanked. The win allowed Wayne County to improve to a perfect 12-0 on the season while Corbin finished with a 9-3 mark, marking the third straight season the Redhounds failed to reach the double-digit plateau in wins.

Before that, Corbin won at least 10 games in a season for a four-year stretch, dating from 2007 to 2010.

Black resigns

Was I surprised to see Jim Black step down as coach of the Whitley County Colonels?

No, and to be honest, I hate to see him go.

Black is one of the best coaches around, and injuries combined with the third toughest slate in the state led to the Colonels’ dismal 1-10 season.

Sure, many can go back and say Black might have overscheduled a bit, but folks, I’ll be the first to say, you can’t control injuries, and once the injury big hit Whitley County, the Colonels couldn’t recover.

With that said, Black was successful as the Colonel head coach. He guided Whitley County to a semifinal appearance in Class 5A during the 2008 season while leading the Colonels to an impressive 12-2 record before seeing his team bow out to state power Highlands, 42-16.

I’m going to miss seeing Black on the sidelines. He’s one of the nicest guys you can meet, and one of the few coaches that will call you back with quotes after a tough defeat — that says a lot about just how good of a guy he is.

Who will be the next coach?

I thought sports editor Chris Parsons did a fantastic job during a recent column he wrote, laying out the foundation on who might be the next Colonel head coach.

I’m sure the folks at Whitley County have an idea who they want as head coach, and the names Chris mentioned in his column would be great candidates.

There is another name I’m hearing, though, and that’s Paul Rains.

Is there any truth to the rumors?

Who knows, but that’s another name to keep an eye on. Rains has consistently churned out winners wherever he has coached, and I’m sure would do the same at Whitley County, too.

Big Game this week

Hazard (11-1) at Williamsburg (9-2),

Friday at 7:30 p.m.

This is the game many Williamsburg faithful have been waiting for an entire year to take place. Well, the time is here.

Two of Class A’s best teams will square-off Friday with the winner moving on the Class A Semi-State game.

Who will win?

Well, I do have some thoughts to share.

The key for Williamsburg is to find a way to score against the Bulldog defense. These two teams have met during the past two regional title games, and Hazard has blanked the Yellow Jacket offense in both games, winning 28-0 in 2011, and 7-0 last season.

That’s eight straight quarters Williamsburg’s high-powered offense has failed to score, and to win any football game, you’ve got to score points.

With that said, I believe Herron’s squad will. Like I said before, Williamsburg has flown under the radar the entire season, and this is the Yellow Jackets’ time to shine.

They were oh, so close in accomplishing the feat last season, losing in the game’s final minutes on the road.

Herron’s players have worked too hard to lose for the third year in a row, and look for the Yellow Jackets to advance in a thriller, 21-20.

Tri-County Rankings

Williamsburg comes in at the top spot while North Laurel will finish the season as the No. 2 ranked team. Why did I move Corbin down a spot and move the Jaguars up a spot? A healthy Jaguar team would have beaten Perry Central last week folks, and they are the only team to beat the Tri-County’s No. 1 ranked team. When healthy, North Laurel could very well be the best team in the Tri-County, but the Yellow Jackets have improved since their loss to North Laurel, so they stay put at No. 1 while North Laurel comes in at No. 2 and Corbin is ranked No. 3. Knox Central is No. 4 while Whitley County, South Laurel and Lynn Camp round out my rankings.

Next Week

Along with a wrap-up of the Williamsburg vs. Hazard game, keep an eye out on my All-Tri-County football team as well.

Who will be the Player of the Year? I can’t tell just yet, but I’ll give you a list of the players who are up for the award — Jake Coppock and Taylor Waddle, Corbin; Jonathan Gist, Knox Central; Aaron Mills, Lynn Camp; Gabe Blair and Michael Nelson, North Laurel and Zack Mills, Whitley County.