By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
The Knox Central Panthers will try to run their record to a perfect 2-0 while participating in their second straight bowl game Friday in the Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic.
The Panthers are coming off a 51-7 blowout win over Atherton in the Pioneer Bowl, and will go up against Southwestern at Corbin’s Campbell Field at 6 p.m.
The Warriors are coming off a 14-0 loss to Corbin, which saw the Warriors’ offense get stifled by the Redhounds while being limited to only 150 yards of total offense while turning the ball over one time.
Even though his team will enter Friday’s game as a heavy favorite, but Knox Central head coach Scott Russell was quick to point out that his team can’t overlook Southwestern.
“They are a dangerous team, and better than what people think,” he admitted. “They are a team that if you let them get out on you, they’re going to be hard to stop.
“We can’t get off to a slow start like we did last week against Atherton,” Russell added. “We need to come out and be ready to play.”
Russell said he believes his team might be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder after turning in a subpar effort in their scrimmage game against Harlan County two weeks ago.
“I believe they are,” he said. “We are trying to create our own identity, I guess you could say, our own legacy.
“We know we can’t live on our success that happened in the past,” Russell added. “We have to create our own legacy and continue to play well.”
The Panthers did just that against Atherton with tailback Jonathan Gist not missing a beat in the backfield, rushing for 192 yards and two touchdowns while receiver Matt Barger finished the game with 69 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
“We played well at times last week, and I saw improvement,” Russell said. “We just need to build on last week and do a good job on both offense and defense against Southwestern.”
The success freshman quarterback Casey Diamond had last week (threw for close to 100 yards and three touchdowns) might allow Russell to open things up more on offense Friday.
“Casey is improving and he had a lot of positives come out of the game last week,” Russell said. “He is getting more comfortable and that will allow us to open things up some for him. We’re not going to throw it 40 times a game, but we will open things up a bit more this week.”
The key for the Panthers, according to Russell, is for his team to understand things are going to get tougher as the season progresses.
“I think the kids realize what we have in front of us,” he said. “They understand our schedule just gets tougher each week, but I also think they are ready and they know they have to get ready and prepared for Southwestern. If we do the things we are capable of doing, I believe we will be fine.”