TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Les Dixon for the Times-Tribune
HAZARD — Lynn Camp coach Phil Russell knew entering his team’s game against Hazard, his Wildcats would need to play mistake-free football if they had any type of a chance to defeat the defending region champions.
It didn’t happen.
Lynn Camp fumbled the game’s opening kick-off, as the Bulldogs recovered at the Wildcat one-yard line, and scored one play later, leading to a 50-12 win for the Bulldogs.
“We knew we couldn’t make mistakes, and we fumbled the opening kick-off and they scored and we knew we were in trouble,” Russell said. “It was a bad night to begin with, and then when you commit mistakes like that, you’re not helping your self at all. Hazard is a very good team. They are a much better team than people think.
“After playing most of the teams in the region, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them playing for another state title,” he added. “More than likely, it’s going to come down to them and Williamsburg in the region finals. They are very good, I’ll say that.”
The Wildcats could never get back into the game after falling behind 50-6 at halftime.
Hazard scored early and often against the outmanned Wildcat defense.
“We’ve just not stopped people,” Russell said. “That’s just it. For us to win, we’re going to have to get bigger, stronger and faster. We’re going to do just that during the off-season. No doubt about it, that’s what we’ve got to improve on.
“We’re going to work hard during the off-season and get more kids out. During the three games we won, we blocked, tackled and executed. It’s obvious during the eight games we lost, we didn’t do that.”
Russell said his team was able to manage to move the football, but couldn’t keep up with the Bulldogs’ offensive attack.
“Tommy Hatfield had a heck of a game for us,” he said. “He had more than 100 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns. We did a good job on offense at times. This offense is going to be able to score points, but you’ve also got to stop people on defense and we’ve just not been able to do that consistently this season.
“Of course every loss is tough and this one wasn’t any different,” he added. “I hate to see the season end. I want to go as far as we can, and this season we didn’t do that. We are improving, though. Our goal coming into the season is continue to play all the way to the state championship game, and we didn’t reach that goal this season.”
Despite the loss, Russell said he is excited for what the future holds for the Lynn Camp football program.
“Things are going to get better,” he said. “We don’t make excuses here, but we did have a lot of kids get injured this season, and that hurt. We lost Aaron Mills and if we had him in the Berea game, we win that one for sure. When I first started here we had seven kids out, and we have built on that.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we are getting there,” Russell added. “The key for us is to continue to work hard and get better. The only way to accomplish that is to work hard during the off-season, and we’re going to do just that. I’m excited for what the future holds for this program. We have a lot of talented kids, and we’re going to get better.”