By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
WHITLEY COUNTY — Like most other high school teams across Kentucky this week, the Whitley County Colonels are trying to get back in the swing of things.
With the dead period coming to an end and practice and conditioning ramping up, a lot of questions surround most programs when it comes to who will fill the shoes left empty by last year’s graduations.
After losing several key seniors last season, head coach Jim Black said his team is no different and from day one the search is on to find those players who can step up and make an impact when the season starts.
“The first thing you start looking for are those kids who can come in and make a difference,” Black said. “You want kids that are hungry and kids that want playing time because we need kids that want to be on the football field if we’re going to succeed.
“The other thing you try to do is you want to get the kids in shape or at least work in that direction,” he added. “We don’t worry a whole lot if kids come in and aren’t in the best shape because I know they will be by the time the season starts.”
Black’s squad is fresh off a playoff appearance last season, but the stay was short-lived thanks to a 28-13 loss to Pulaski County in the second round. The Colonels did pick up an opening round win over North Laurel, handing the Jaguars a 41-20 loss to advance.
Rushing leader Boston Bryant (859 yards rushing) is no longer an option for the Colonels, but the good news is Zack Mills (854 yards) is a year older and will be one of the main threats out of the backfield. Quarterback Austin Ysidro tallied 834 yards on the ground last season, while Austin Hooper racked up 584.
Given the ability to move the football on the ground, not much is likely to change when it comes down to the Colonels’ offense. Black said he hopes to find a few more able bodies as the preseason moves on, given the fact the offense depends so much on the running game.
“Due to the nature of our offense, we have to have several guys who can stay fresh out of the backfield,” Black said. “We have a lot of different options back there and that’s something we pride ourselves in.
“We had a lot of success running the football last season and we have some of those guys returning for us, so we’ll try to do more of the same,” he added. “The key is finding more guys to move the football and keeping them healthy.”
As the regular season begins to slowly creep up on the Colonels, Black said his goals and expectations for the upcoming season are similar to what they are each and every season.
“We want to win every football game of course, and we want to win our district,” Black said. “We keep things simple and we try to take it one game at a time and go from there.”