By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
Week Nine action is in the books, and the lone Tri-County team that can lay claim to a district championship is none other than Jerry Herron’s Williamsburg Yellow Jackets, but with that said, we’ll talk more about Williamsburg in a few.
Knox Central saw its hopes of capturing its first-ever district title come to an end to the hands of the Russell County Lakers for the third straight season while Corbin and North Laurel locked up their respective district’s No. 3 seeds with wins over Casey County and South Laurel, respectively. And a big congrats goes out to Whitley County for not giving up and surprising many by defeating Letcher Central, 44-20, for its first win of the season.
Player of the Week
Gabe Blair, North Laurel
When it comes to top tailbacks at North Laurel High School, you always think of Brian “Bull” Durham and Nik Blair, but now you’ve got to add Nik’s brother Gabe to the top of the list. Blair ran for 301 yards and four touchdowns during the Jaguars’ 42-21 win over South Laurel Friday, and the 301-yard rushing total allowed him to go out on top during his final home game, as he has surpassed Durham's career total of 4,272 yards.
This is an easy one. Many thought Letcher Central would come to Colonel Stadium and roll past winless Whitley County, but it didn’t happen. The Colonels won their first game in close to a year by knocking off the Cougars with relatively ease, 44-20. The 24-point victory turned out to be Whitley County’s first win since a 41-20 win over North Laurel in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs last season.
Staying with Whitley County, the Colonel duo of quarterback Luke Woods and tailback Zack Mills played a huge role in Whitley County’s first win of the season. The duo hooked up for two passing touchdowns, as Woods finished the game completing 10-of-13 pass attempts for 206 yards while Mills rushed for three more scores and 177 yards on the ground. In all, Mills finished the game with five touchdowns.
No quit in South Laurel
Many expected North Laurel to dominate rival South Laurel during Friday’s Crosstown Showdown XXII, but the game was a whole lot closer than the final score indicated. The Jaguars jumped out to a 28-0 lead before seeing the Cardinals cut their deficit to 35-21.
South Laurel coach Matt Rhymer is going to turn things around. The big key is for the Cardinal faithful to be patient. Not too long ago, the South Laurel football program was onr, if not the best, in the Tri-County.
“We were the worst team in the state of Kentucky last year in 5A. I don’t think we are anymore. We are getting better every single day. I see it in practice in their character, their discipline, their structure,” Rhymer said. “I’m really excited to be their coach.”
Not a good night for Knox Central
Knox Central coach Scott Russell knew his team was going to have its hands full when he found out he would be without the services of injured quarterback Matt Barger in a district title match-up against Russell County. Things got even worse when back-up quarterback Casey Diamond went down with an injury.
The 33-0 loss to the Lakers marked the first time in 44 games (a 19-0 loss to Lawrence County during first round action of the 2009 Class 4A playoffs).
Making a statement
I said this last week, and I’ll say it again — like it or not folks, Williamsburg is the real deal in Class A. I've been saying that the entire season, but many got caught up with the fact the Yellow Jackets have dropped two early season games.
Just look who Jerry Herron's squad lost to — Wayne County and North Laurel. The Cardinals are 9-0 on the season while the Jaguars are 7-2. That's a combined record of 15-2, folks, and Williamsburg held its own in both games. Take away those two losses and the Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponents, 299-73, this season.
You didn’t think I was going to forget did you? Congrats goes out to Williamsburg for capturing the program’s fourth straight district championship and seventh out of the past 10 years. Coach Herron has done a fantastic job of building the Yellow Jacket program into one of the best Class A programs in the state and one of the best all-around programs as well. Williamsburg’s 55-0 blowout win over Lynn Camp assures Herron’s squad it will be home all the way to the state title game, that is if they continue to win, which I believe they will.
No. 3 seeds are clinched
Both Corbin and North Laurel were hoping to host playoff games this season, but after losses to Bell County, and Madison Southern, respectively last week, they accomplished the next best thing — clinching their respective district’s No. 3 seeds.
Corbin wrapped up the No. 3 seed with ease with its defense stepping up again by forcing eight turnovers during its 49-13 win over Casey county while Gabe Blair’s 301 rushing yards led the way during the Jaguars’ hard-fought 42-21 win over crosstown rival South Laurel.
Needing some momentum
heading into the playoffs
Both Knox Central and Lynn Camp need to grab wins in Week 10 action with the playoffs looming around the corner. The Panthers will try to avoid losing two straight games for the second time this season on the road against Corbin while Lynn Camp will try to snap a three-game losing skid against upstart Middlesboro after getting off to a 3-3 start.
Looking at the playoff picture
This we know — Williamsburg is the lone Tri-County team with a No. 1 seed while Knox Central will host a playoff game in the first round by capturing its respective district’s No. 2 seed. Both Corbin and North Laurel are three seeds while Lynn Camp and Whitley County are their respective district’s No. 4 seeds. The lone team not participating in the playoffs this season is South Laurel.
Big games this week
Knox Central (6-3) at Corbin (7-2)
Wburg (6-2) at Pineville (6-3)
Both Knox Central and Corbin are looking to enter post-season play with some momentum. The Panthers need a win, or they’ll be limping into the playoffs with a two-game losing skid. Williamsburg will have a nice little test on the road against Pineville. The Yellow Jackets will get to gauge themselves against a Pineville team that held its own against defending region champion Hazard last week before losing, 50-28.
Tri-County Rankings for
Oct. 28-Nov. 1
North Laurel maintains the top spot for another week, and could end the regular season as the Tri-County’s top team with a win over Grant County Friday while Williamsburg comes in at the No. 2 position. Corbin is ranked No. 3 while Knox Central stays at No. 4 despite a loss to Russell County. Whitley County moves two spots to No. 5 while South Laurel comes in at No. 6 and Lynn Camp follows at the No. 7 spot.
They said it
“We started off slow and had a hard time getting used to the cold, but we adjusted, calmed down and took care of business. It’s all about winning the game. We’re really excited about winning another district championship, our fourth in a row. This is the first class at Williamsburg to win four straight district championships and we’re excited about that.” — Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron said after seeing his team capture its fourth straight district title by defeating Lynn Camp, 55-0.
“We saw some things we could have probably done to them early, we just didn’t execute. We got off to a slow start and it hurt us. One thing that Williamsburg does is execute. They make the game easy on themselves because they execute and don’t really hurt themselves. We didn’t do that tonight.” — Lynn Camp coach Phil Russell after his team’s 55-0 loss to Williamsburg.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. It doesn’t matter what the records are, it’s always going to be tough.” — North Laurel coach Chris Larkey after seeing his team beat South Laurel, 42-21, in Crosstown Showdown XXII.
“We were the worst team in the state of Kentucky last year in 5A. I don’t think we are anymore. We are getting better every single day. I see it in practice in their character, their discipline, their structure.” — South Laurel coach Matt Rhymer after his team rallied during a 42-21 loss to North Laurel.
“Our kids never quit and for that I give them credit. When you start a game without your starting quarterback and then lose your second string guy in the first half, it’s tough to overcome.” — Knox Central coach Scott Russell after his team’s 33-0 loss to Russell County.
"The biggest thing is we came out and did what we needed to do. Our defense played well, and our offense did at times. But we've got to get better in the passing game." — Corbin coach Steve Jewell after seeing his team force eight turnovers during Friday’s 49-13 win over Casey County.
“They played great. We made plays all night long. Offensively and defensively, they were awesome. I give the kids all of the credit. He (Luke Woods) did a great job and he had a good cast around him.” — Jim Black after his Whitley County Colonels picked up their first win of the season by defeating Letcher Central, 44-20.
North's Blair racks up 301 yards, breaks school rushing record
By Les Dixon For the Times-Tribune
- Local Sports
The South Laurel Lady Cardinals escaped with a 4-3 victory over the Corbin Lady Redhounds after an exciting play at the plate that secured them the win.
Jaguars split home contest with Middlesboro
The North Laurel boys and girls tennis teams had mixed results when Middlesboro paid a visit.
For the third time in a row the Corbin Redhounds were winners on Thursday night, this time defeating the Barbourville Tigers 8-0 in 13th Region basbeball action.
South Laurel picks up 9-4 win over Panthers
South Laurel’s Braden Miller came through in a big way during the Cardinals’ 9-4 win over Knox Central Thursday.
Season taking shape
After seeing some impressive baseball, and softball games this past week, this I know — they’re only a handful of teams that will make a run for both the 13th Region baseball and softball titles.
Ready for Action
Seventy-five years is a long time, but in baseball years it seems like days.
Fear 'Les' Diamond Rankings
The Lady Cardinals have recovered nicely after a loss to North Laurel by defeating Johnson Central, South Oldham and Whitley County.
The North Laurel Lady Jaguars managed to pick up two wins the past couple of days with victories over both Harlan and Rockcastle County while the Jaguar tennis team also picked up a victory over the Green Dragons.
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