By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
The North Laurel Jaguars are in familiar territory this week against Madison Southern, but just how the Eagles’ running game compares to what they’ve seen so far remains to be seen.
The Eagles bring in one of the state’s top college recruits in Damien Harris. Harris has torched teams this season at a rate of 235 yards per game, while tallying 1,412 yards and 28 touchdowns on just 97 attempts. If you’re counting, that’s an average of 14.5 yards per carry.
Larkey admitted there probably is no easy way to stop Harris, so the only option is to try and keep him off the field as much as possible.
“This kid is an exceptional athlete and if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have scholarship offers from all over the country,” Larkey said. “He’s going to get his yards just like he’s done all season, so the best option is to try and keep the football as much as possible and keep him off the field.
“We had a similar situation against Russell County with Nick Britt,” he added. “You just have to try and limit the number of times you allow them to touch the football and try and slow them down when they do get it.”
North Laurel hasn’t exactly struggled when it comes to running the football. Between the Jaguars’ two leading rushers, Michael Nelson (899 yards) and Gabe Blair (798 yards), North Laurel has gained close to 1,700 yards on the ground. The two are averaging over 100 yards apiece on the ground.
Larkey said just like he has all season, he will look to those two this week against Madison Southern.
“You can’t just turn into a passing team over night, so we’ll try to run the football and score some points,” Larkey said. “We’ve looked to those guys all season and Michael and Gabe have done a great job for us.
“If we’re going to be in this game, we have to be able to run the football,” he added. “We’ll try to throw a few passes and stretch them out on occasion, but at this point of the season, we have to stay with what we’ve done all season and hope that it works.”
Defensively, Madison Southern is only allowing 160 yards per game on the ground and just 271 yards of total offense per game, while forcing 10 turnovers in seven games.
North Laurel is a shade better in the turnover column with 17, and in total yards allowed defensively with 251 per game. If the Jaguars have their way, that trend will continue, but Larkey knows it won’t be easy.
“They beat a pretty good Pulaski County team last week, so we know they are coming in on a high note,” he said. “We just have to get the kids to focus and execute.
“We’ve got a few kids that are dinged up with injuries, but like I’ve told them all year, you have to fight through the pain,” he added. “Hopefully we can do that Friday.”
By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
- Local Sports
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
- 13th Region Top Scorers
Harlan coach Derrick Akal knew his team needed to change things up during their second meeting with the Barbourville Lady Tigers.
The Way It Is
With four girls games finished in the 13th Region Tournament, now it’s time to switch things around a bit, and focus on the boys tournament.
Like It or Not
After a perfect opening night when it came to picking winners, Les Dixon and I both struggled in the second night of action.
Brian Evans’ Knox Central Panthers might be tagged as one of the teams to beat in the 13th Region Tournament, but they have to get past upstart Williamsburg first.
Chris Parsons' Daily Region Pick 'Em
After the first two days of the girls 13th Region Tournament I find myself at 2-2 when it comes to picking the winners.
Tigers look to eliminate Middlesboro for second straight year
Even though his team is the defending 13th Region champion, Robert Marcum was quick to point out he doesn’t believe his Tigers are the favorite to repeat just yet.
Ready to Defend
Coming into Tuesday's first round match-up with North Laurel in the 13th Region Tournament, Corbin coach Jason McDaniel knew his team would see a different Lady Jaguar team than the one it beat earlier in the season, 86-48. He was right.
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- Early Exit