By John Stepp For The Times Tribune
Coach Jim Black and his Whitley County Colonels have are still searching for their first win of the year, and that could come this Friday when they play host to district rival Letcher Central.
It’s been a season unlike any other for the Colonels, who have seen a tremendous amount of injuries throughout the year. With several players out on both sides of the ball, Black has had to rely on fresh faces to step up and play each week, which has made it difficult to stay consistent over the past eight games.
“In all my years of football, as a player and as a coach, I have not seen anything like what we have experienced this season,” said Black. “I have never seen this many legitimate injuries on one football team. It makes it really hard to prepare. It’s been a tough season.”
Despite their difficulties this season, all hope is not lost for the Colonels. Playing in a four-team district, Whitley County is assured a playoff spot, and as Black knows, once the playoffs begin anything can happen.
“Yeah, we will be in the playoffs and we want to be able to finish these next couple of games strong to carry that momentum into the playoffs,” said Black. “We’ll play either Pulaski or Madison Southern and there isn’t much difference between those teams. We just have to keep doing the things that we do and keep getting better at that.”
This Friday’s matchup against the Cougars of Letcher Central will contrast completely different teams. While the Colonels feature a ground oriented attack, the Cougars will bring a spread offense that features the run, but also the ability to throw the football.
“It seems like they’ve been running the football a little more lately. If you look at their earlier games this year, they threw the football around more. Now, they’re running it,” said Black. “We’re going to try to force them to throw the ball. We think that gives us the best chance to win.”
The Colonels will back to their old ways this Friday, featuring their triple option attack that has grown so familiar under Black’s time as the Whitley County coach.
“We’ve had to get away from the option a little bit because we had some kids out, but we’re going to get back to that more this week,” said Black. “We’ve got to get more comfortable with running it. I think we can be successful with it once our kids get comfortable running it.”
Along with the option attack comes the responsibility of taking care of the football on offense, which has been a problem for the Colonels all year.
“That’s’ going to be continue to be a focal point, but we have to continue to get better in other aspects of the game, too,” said Black. “We have to put together a complete game if we are going to win. But taking care of the football is still a concern and something we have to do a better job at.”
No matter what happens this week, the Colonels will continue to work hard and look forward to the playoffs.
“We’re getting close to the end of the season. We want to continue to improve,” Black said. “We want to finish the season strong.”