TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
By Les Dixon / The Endzone Staff
North Laurel coach Chris Larkey has had a couple of days to let his team’s program-first 5-0 start sink in, and he still feels as good today, as he did when his Jaguars came away with a 21-14 win over Southwestern Thursday.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s great for us,” he said. “It feels real good to be 5-0 and the kids deserve everything that comes with this.
“They have really worked hard to get to this point, and they understand now, that the hard work pays off,” Larkey added. “I also believe they have bought into us, and realize running the ball is what is making us successful — they are believers.”
North Laurel took Southwestern’s best punch Thursday at The Jungle, and managed to come away with the seven-point win, thanks to its potent ground attack along with a great defensive play by Steven Nelson, who deflected a pass deep in Jaguar territory securing the win for his team.
“Our kids are doing everything we have asked of them,” Larkey said. “It was a big win last night, not only to get to 5-0, but to get that first district win. We are one step closer to the playoffs and maybe getting to host a playoff game.
“You really want to stay away from being the four seed this year because you’re going to get Harlan County in the playoffs,” he added. “No disrespect to any of the teams in the other district, but everyone knows Harlan County is the team to beat in that district and the other teams are down just a bit. We still have hopes of getting our district’s No. 1 seed, and this might be the year that we are finally able to win that first playoff game.”
Even though his team is one of only six teams left remaining unbeaten in Class 5A, Larkey admits his Jaguars still have a long road in front of them.
“Being 5-0 is nice, but we still have four district games remaining, and none of them are going to be easy,” he said.
North Laurel will put its undefeated record on the line Friday on the road against unbeaten Pulaski County, who is ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, and will follow that with games against Lincoln County, Madison Southern and South Laurel.
“All of those games are going to be tough,” Larkey admitted. “If people believe South Laurel is going to be an easy game, they’re crazy. That’s a rival game, and you know any time you play that game it’s going to be hard to win. It’s probably going to be the hardest game we have.”
But with that said, Larkey wants his players to be able to enjoy the present, and that means being proud of becoming the first North Laurel team to start the season with a 5-0 record.
“I want them to enjoy this,” he said. “I want them to have fun, and be happy with what they have accomplished. They deserve every bit of this. These are great kids that I’m coaching, and like I said earlier, they deserve everything they get.
“They realize we’re getting ready to go into a tough part of our schedule, and they also realize no game is going to be easy the rest of the season,” Larkey added. “But I think they need to enjoy this right now. I’m all for them having some fun, and here in a couple of days we’ll get back to work and get ready for Pulaski County.”