By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
Chris Larkey’s North Laurel Jaguars could reach unfamiliar territory if they can get past Leslie County in a road test today.
The Jaguars are off to their best start (3-0) since 2009, and a win over the Eagles would allow them to get off to their best start in the program’s history, which has only been accomplished once when former coach Greg Duncum guided North Laurel to a 4-0 start in 2001.
“The big thing for us is that we’ve gotten better each week,” Larkey said. “This bunch is having fun and we’re doing things to get better. We know we have another tough game coming up. Leslie County is 2-1, and we know they’re going to be tough to beat at their place, but we are playing good.
“I know I sound like I’m not happy after a game, but after watching the film, I can see we are improving,” he added. “Our run game has improved, our defense has improved and our kicking has, too. Our kicking game is making us that much better.”
North Laurel will try to continue its success today against a Leslie County team that has recorded wins over both Harlan (26-21) and Knott County Central (41-24). The Eagles suffered their first loss last week, a 34-7 decision to Morgan County.
“We can’t overlook any one, and I believe we know that,” Larkey said. “This day and age the kids see stuff on the Internet and things like that, but we also know we’ve got to be ready to play, no matter what.
“Leslie County likes to throw the ball,” he added. “They don’t run the ball as much, but they’ve got a lot of skill kids that are tall and that can catch the football. They might not be the best team we’ve faced this season, but we can’t overlook them.”
The Eagles will have to try to find a way to slow down the Jaguar rushing attack.
Quarterback Michael Nelson leads the way with 369 rushing yards and six touchdowns while Gabe Blair has ran for 365 yards and four scores. Another threat in the backfield is Jake McFadden, who has ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Nelson is also a threat throwing the ball. He’s connected on 11-of-23 pass attempts for 185 yards while Cole Lewis leads North Laurel with four receptions and 80 yards.
“Going to Leslie County will be a disadvantage because it’s tough playing on the road,” Larkey said. “We just need to continue to play well, and play like this is our last game.”