TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

November 4, 2013

Taking a closer look at the first round playoff games


TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — — Les Dixon

The ole saying "Time flies when you're having fun" runs true for the 2013 prep football season in the Tri-County. It just seems like yesterday the season began, but 11 weeks of regular season football is now over and that means postseason play is here.

Yep, at the beginning of the season I thought we would have at least six playoff teams representing the Tri-County, and I was correct.

Corbin, Knox Central, Lynn Camp, North Laurel, Whitley County and Williamsburg each earned a playoff spot this season while South Laurel, for the second straight season, is the lone Tri-County team not participating in the playoffs.

With that said, things should be interesting beginning Friday.

If our respective teams continue to win during the playoffs, we could see a lot of interesting match-ups down the road - a possible Corbin vs. Wayne County could take place along with a potential Williamsburg vs. Hazard rematch in the Class A Region title game, and if North Laurel can win the program's first-ever playoff game Friday, the Jaguars could very well meet up with rival Pulaski County again.

But enough looking ahead, let's take an inside look at who and what our local teams are up against during first round action of postseason.



Class A playoffs

Jenkins at Williamsburg

These two teams have played each other the past two seasons during first round action of the Class A playoffs with the Yellow Jackets dominating on both sides of the ball during both games.

Williamsburg won with ease in 2011, handing Jenkins a 40-0 loss while cruising to another easy win in 2012, beating the Cavaliers, 60-6.

Things shouldn't be any different this time around.

Williamsburg is on a roll, winners of five straight, while Jenkins has lost nine straight since opening the season with a 36-34 win over Phelps. Yep, the Cavaliers are riding a nine-game losing skid and has been shut out twice heading into Week 10 action while only scoring eight points during their last four games.

This is an easy one for me to pick, look for Williamsburg to move on to second round action.



Lynn Camp at Hazard

Things look promising for Phil Russell's Lynn Camp Wildcats after they evened their record at 3-3 on the season, but four straight losses later and a No. 4 seed in their respective district has landed his team a first round date with defending region champion Hazard.

Lynn Camp is going to have its hands full against the Bulldogs, who seem to be peaking at the right time. They are winners of six straight with their only losses coming against Pikeville (62-50) and Fairview (30-27).

Hazard is led by quarterback Tanner Morgan, who has thrown for close to 2,000 yards this season and more than 20 touchdowns. Morgan's main receiving targets are Chris Hudson, Trey Higgins, Jacob Blanton and Jason Johnson.

Oh yeah, I can't leave out tailback Brandon Jones, who has run for more than 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.

Look for the Wildcats' season to end against Hazard.



Class 3A playoffs

Corbin at Henry County

The Redhounds might be on the road, but don't be surprised to see them moving on against Henry County. Corbin has put together some momentum since its 7-0 heartbreaking loss to Henry County, and look for Steve Jewell's squad to find a way to contain the Wildcats' run game.

Henry County is primarily a running team, and is led by Mason Fish who has rushed for close to 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns and teammate Austin Hartsell. If Corbin can contain those two, the Redhounds will win.

The Wildcats had only thrown 64 pass attempts and completed only 17 heading into their Week 10 contest. The 64 pass attempts also included 10 interceptions, so stopping their run game is a must.

Look for Jewell's squad to win going away, while setting up another match-up with district foe Wayne County in the process.



Class 4A Playoffs

Mercer County at Knox Central

This isn't going to be an easy first round game for the Knox Central Panthers. Scott Russell's squad is limping into the playoffs, riding a two-game losing skid after losses to both Russell County and Corbin.

Things don't get any easier against a Mercer County team that has played a very tough schedule. The Titans started the season 3-0 before losing to quality teams in Central Hardin, Anderson County and Lexington Catholic. Their only other loss was a 14-0 defeat to undefeated Boyle County.

Mercer County has five different players who have rushed for at least 100 yards this season, and the Panthers' Achilles' heel this season has been stopping the run.

The Titans are dangerous throwing and running the ball with Chris Crawley Goodman and Kohe Ford leading their rushing attack. Crawley-Goodman is also a threat throwing the ball while Layne Peavier is his main receiving target.

This could be one of the better games in the Tri-County Friday. Look for the Titans to pull out the win.



Class 5A playoffs

North Laurel at Perry Central

The Jaguars enter the playoffs searching for the program's first-ever playoff win. That's right, first-ever, but with that said, I like North Laurel's chances.

The Jaguars have a top-notch running attack, led by the program's all-time leading rusher, Gabe Blair. Jake McFadden has put up impressive numbers running the ball, but the key to North Laurel's success could rely on the health of quarterback Michael Nelson.

Nelson is a playmaker, when healthy, that can take over games. But just how healthy will he be?

That's the big question.

Perry Central is a hard team to read. The Commodores have been hot and cold this season. They've put together a win streak of three games, but have also dropped three games in a row. Coach Justin Haddix and defensive coordinator Dave Mitchell will have their team ready.

This is a team that has beaten teams such as Whitley County with ease, but has also lost to teams such as Letcher Central.

Look for North Laurel to pull out a high-scoring, but close, win.



Whitley County at Pulaski County

For the second straight week, the Colonels will be going against an unbeaten team. Pulaski County has put together its best season in program history while Whitley County enters the game with only one win.

Are the Colonels heavy underdogs?

Um, yes, but I do believe they can hang with Pulaski County for a while. The Maroons just have too many offensive weapons, though.

From quarterback Riley Hall, who has thrown for 2,107 yards and 23 TDs while running for 646 yards and five scores, to tailbacks Caleb Cox and Aaron Smith, Pulaski County is just plain loaded.

Heck, I almost left out receivers Jake Johnson and George Gregory, who have combined for 93 catches, 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The Maroons will move on with an easy win.