By John Stepp For The Times-Tribune
When Phil Russell took over as the head coach of the Lynn Camp Wildcats, he inherited a program that was winless the year before he arrived. After a 3-7 record and first round playoff loss last year, Russell feels his team is ready to turn the corner and become a viable region competitor.
Their first test will come this Friday when the Wildcats take on the Harlan Green Dragons, a team that beat them a combined 106-31 in 2012. The teams have already faced once this year in a preseason scrimmage in the Southeastern Kentucky Conference Gridorama. Harlan won the scrimmage 20-6, but Russell’s squad has come a long way since mid-August.
“I’m excited about this one. What everyone is looking at is Harlan has beaten us the past few years and people think they’re going to beat us again,” said Russell. “But, as you saw Friday, if we show up and we’re clicking on all cylinders, we can make things happen. I feel like it’s going to be even on both sides and the game is going to be won in the fourth quarter.”
As all J.B. Donahue football teams, Russell expects the Green Dragons to be physical and rely on a ground-oriented offensive attack. Led by senior Corey Chorak and junior Tanner Morris, Harlan is averaging 153 rushing yards per game.
One of Lynn Camp’s obstacles this season has been tackling. Even in their 41-12 win over Jellico, Tenn., Russell was not pleased with the way his team tackled the opposing ball carriers. But, with a solid week of practice, he hopes they can shore up the problem before taking on Harlan this Friday.
“It is something that we worked on for half-an-hour today at practice. We’ll do the same thing at practice tomorrow,” said Russell. “Their tailback is about as good as anyone around. If we don’t tackle and block and execute, then we’re not going to win any of the games we play.”
Despite facing a difficult offense, the Wildcats also pose a major threat with their spread attack. Senior Aaron Mills, who plays multiple positions for Lynn Camp, is one of the most versatile athletes in the mountains. Last week, Mills threw two touchdown passes, rushed for one, and caught another. Mill’s versatility has allowed Russell to open up the Wildcat offense and give opposing defensive coordinators a lot to prepare for.
“I like our two-quarterback system right now. We let Aaron (Mills) play quarterback and he throws two touchdown passes, but it also helped Austin (Maier) to come into his own,” said Russell. “Last week we kept our game plan pretty simple, but I think Harlan knows we’re going to open it up a little. We have to come out and do what we’re coached to do and execute the game plan this week.”
Cats looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since 2009
By John Stepp For The Times-Tribune
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