TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

September 3, 2013

North Laurel’s Thunder & Lightning

CORBIN —

By John Stepp For The Endzone

With the evolution of the spread offense, many defensive coordinators have spent restless nights trying to prepare their teams to take the field on Fridays. But with the North Laurel Jaguars, opposing defenses have to figure out how to stop the thunder and lightning duo of quarterback Michael Nelson and running back Gabe Blair.

Nelson and Blair have been the Jaguars’ go-to tandem for the past two years, and are looking for even better things in 2013. Blair, who has started at tailback since his sophomore year, has amassed close to 3,000 yards rushing in his career at North Laurel, while Nelson is right behind him with just over 2,000 yards. While they are both dangerous weapons, Jaguars Coach Chris Larkey has struggled at times with whom to give the ball to.

“Both are very special players and sometimes it makes it difficult on me to call plays. With those two in the backfield, I try to split it up, not to make anyone happy, but because it keeps defenses honest,” said Larkey. “If they were playing on any other team, they would carry the ball 40 times a game, but since we have them both, I try to get the ball to them as much as possible.”

There could not be a more complete pair than Nelson and Blair, who complement each other perfectly in the Jaguars running-oriented attack. Nelson cripples defenses with his blazing speed, while Blair carries the ball between the tackles to control the clock. They each have their own niche on the football field, and both of them like it that way.

“I feel like playing with Gabe helps me out a lot,” said Nelson. “He carries the ball at least 25 times a game when we’re playing against good defenses, and those linebackers start to crash down on him. That’s when I can fake it and get around the corner and break a long run.

Blair agreed.

“I’m the guy that gets three or four yards up the middle and wears down the defense and helps us keep control of the clock,” said Blair. “Michael is the one who can break it for a 80-yard touchdown.”

The players aren’t just close on the field. In their spare time they like to spend time fishing and hunting together. They are even partners on the North Laurel Bass Fishing team.

“I’m not a big hunter, but I still go with him sometimes, but we both like to fish,” Nelson said. “We are partners on the fishing team at school, and we enjoy doing that.”

Blair attributed the closeness off the field to their relationship as a quarterback and running back, which goes all the way back to the eighth grade.

“We started playing football together in the eighth grade and he was the quarterback and I was the running back, so that is where it started,” said Blair. “We got close then, and we have come up through high school together. I think the relationship of him being the quarterback and me the running back has helped us stay close.”

With their close relationship comes the fact that there is not jealousy between the two. Both players have the same goals and that is for the team to get North Laurel’s first-ever playoff win.

“We just want to do what it takes to win. We’re focused this year on winning that first playoff game,” said Blair. “If Michael carries the ball more than me and we win, I don’t care, and he is the same way. We want what is best for the team.”

Their unselfishness is one of the things Larkey likes best in his two leaders.

“They’re very unselfish players. Gabe is the type of kid who will do anything we ask. Last year, he broke his collarbone and we didn’t know it. He played several games with it like that, and never complained,” said Larkey. “Michael is not really a traditional quarterback. He was offered a scholarship by EKU and will probably play in the slot for them, but he will do whatever we ask him to do if it helps the team.”

Even with no jealousy between them, they still like a little friendly competition every now and then. It’s often that the two see who will have the most yards or even the most scores in a game.

“Gabe always says that he’s the one who gets us down the field, but I get to score,” Nelson joked. “Actually I will get the long runs, and he always gets the ball on the goal line. It’s really doesn’t matter to us, though.”

No matter the scores or the stats, as long as the win column is filling up, both Nelson and Blair are happy. And with the best team the Jaguars have fielded under Larkey’s tenure, this may be the year to rack up those wins.

“We have a good team this year, and it has a lot to do with those two players. They’re a special bunch,” Larkey said. “This is the first team that I’ve had that I was with all four years, and it means a lot. We want to keep getting better and send them out the right way this year.”

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Tripped Up: Tough loss follows Saturday's walk-off win

    By Chris Parsons
    Sports Editor
    BOWLING GREEN — The Corbin Little League All Stars began the 2014 State Tournament with as exciting a finish as any baseball fan could hope for, but struggled on day two, falling to 1-1 after the first two days.

    July 21, 2014

  • Comeback Effort: Knox County recovers from 24-0 loss, grabs 4-2 win in pool play

    By Chris Parsons
    Sports Editor
    BOWLING GREEN — After what could have turned in to a demoralizing 24-0 loss to Eastern to start State Tournament pool play Saturday, the Knox County 11-year-old All Stars recovered nicely Sunday, picking up a 4-2 win over Paintsville.

    July 21, 2014

  • 0702 TEAM JUMP FOR WEB.jpg Ready To Roll

    After a 6-0 run through the loser’s bracket of the District 4 Tournament, the only thing left for the Corbin Little League All Stars to do is pack their bags and get to Bowling Green.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0718 NORTH TEAM FOR WEB.jpg Passing Grade

    For many years, Chris Larkey’s North Laurel Jaguar football program has been known for its running attack, but with the way things went during the Union College 7-on-7 Passing Tournament, the Jaguars may be shedding the “ground game” label.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIKE IT OR NOT: MLB's All Star effort was a bust

    With the 85th edition of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in the books, I have to say I feel like the whole thing was a complete bust.

    July 18, 2014

  • 0707 KNOX WINS.jpg Eyes On The Prize

    The Knox County 11-year-old All-Stars have a tall task ahead of them, but head coach Jason Hembree said he feels like the team will be ready to go when the state tournament starts Saturday in Bowling Green.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fresh Start

    First-year coach Jason Chappell isn’t any stranger when it comes to challenges. He helped guide the South Laurel Cardinal football program to a couple of playoff appearances after seeing his South Laurel squad win only three games during his first year as Cardinal coach.

    July 17, 2014

  • THE WAY IT IS: Some local teams can make a run

    Well folks, our Little League All-Star action is beginning to wind down, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see two of the Tri-County’s resp

    July 17, 2014

  • 0326 whs tennis.jpg Smashing Win

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Whitley County knocks off B'ville, 7-0

    March 28, 2014

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Facebook
SEC Times-Tribune