TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
Week five of Tri-County football action is over, and both Corbin (which was off) and North Laurel remain as the only two unbeaten teams.
The Redhounds are 5-0 and will get their first big test of the season against unbeaten Wayne County (6-0) in district play this week. The same goes for the Jaguars (5-0), who are now off to their best start in program history. They’ll get their first big test Friday on the road against unbeaten Pulaski County (6-0).
Player of the Week
This was another tough week for me to see who would get the week’s top honor. Knox Central quarterback Matt Barger put up huge numbers (87 passing yards and three touchdowns along with 128 rushing yards and a score) while teammate Jacob Mills ran for 183 yards and two scores.
But with that said, I’m going with Williamsburg’s Skyler Griffith, who had a touchdown reception for a score, a punt return for a touchdown and an interception for a touchdown — pretty impressive game on both sides of the ball for Griffith.
This week’s biggest surprise came from the North Laurel Jaguars, who came up with a huge defensive play in the end to hold off the state’s best winless team — Southwestern. In the past, North Laurel teams wouldn’t make the big defensive stop, but Steven Nelson did just that by deflecting a pass late in the fourth quarter to preserve the Jaguars’ 21-14 win.
Making a statement
North Laurel also made a statement to everyone in the Tri-County that they are for real. The Jaguars are now off to their best start in the program's history at 5-0, possessing one of the best offenses and defenses in the Tri-County.
Jim Black’s Whitley County Colonels are now 0-6, so the bye week comes at the right time for the Colonels. Whitley County can take advantage of the off week and heal up some injuries with Harlan County coming to pay a visit next Friday.
No team needed a win more than Scott Russell’s Knox Central Panthers. The Panthers came into their match-up against Whitley County riding a two-game losing skid for the first time since 2009, and didn’t want the streak to reach three. Knox central jumped out on Whitley County and managed to hold on to a 46-27 win behind the play of Barger and Mills.
South Laurel took one on the chin during its 47-7 loss to Madison Southern. The Cardinals didn’t have an answer for the Eagles’ Damien Harris and it showed early and often this past Friday.
Big Games This Week
North Laurel (5-0) at Pulaski County (6-0) and Corbin (5-0) at Wayne County (6-0)
You did notice it said “games” in the header? You can’t go wrong going to either of these games Friday. Both Corbin and North Laurel will be underdogs, but they both could surprise and pull off the win.
Off this week
Whitley County and Williamsburg will be off Friday with the Yellow Jackets taking their second bye week in three weeks.
Tri-County Rankings for Sept. 22-26
No changes were made with the rankings, as North Laurel remains at the top spot while Corbin is No. 2. Williamsburg sits at the No. 3 position while Knox Central, South Laurel, Whitley County and Lynn Camp round out the top 7 teams in the Tri-County.
They Said It
“This was a quality football team and they had quite a few good athletes on the field. I’m so proud of these kids for the way they came out and played tonight and the effort they gave on the field. The guys really bounced back after the effort we had against Wayne County when they could have hung their heads. I told them at the start of the season that we were going to play a tough schedule, but it was going to make us a better team and I think that’s where we’re at now.” — Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron said after his team’s 50-20 win over Harrison County.
“To finish the way we did shows that these kids believe in what they are doing. Our days are coming. We aren’t out of it. Hopefully we can get healthy and win some games.” — South Laurel coach Matt Rhymer after his team’s 47-7 loss to South Laurel.
“I think this game was really important. We haven’t lost two games in a row since 2009. It was good to come out here and get a win, just for morale. That is when teams fall apart, but we had a great week of practice, and I was proud of the way we came out and played.” — Knox Central coach Scott Russell after seeing his team end its two-game losing streak with a 46-27 win over Whitley County.
“We have to learn to take care of the football. There are very few teams who are good enough to overcome that many turnovers in a game, and we’re not good enough to do that. Until we learn to take care of the football, we won’t be able to beat anyone. You just can’t win doing that.” — Whitley County coach Jim Black on his team’s 46-27 loss to Knox Central.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s great for us. 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 coach Chris Larkey after seeing his team improve to a program-first 5-0 on the season.
“I also think if you want to try and make a good run into November, this is a good springboard into district play and then into the playoffs. So, we try to rest, but it really is just as much work in the off week, just working on different things.” — Corbin coach Steve Jewell.
“Clinton County is a much-improved team. We will prepare for them next week with hopes of coming out of there with a win. It’s going to be a long road game, but I’ve been told it’s a nice play to play. We have two games that are coming up that we believe are winnable games. It’s very important for us to go out there and win both games. I would really love to get to 4-3.” — Lynn Camp coach Phil Russell.