TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By John Stepp For The Times Tribune
After starting the season 2-1, the South Laurel Cardinals have lost six-straight games heading into their final matchup this Friday against the Leslie County Eagles. Aside from their record, Coach Matt Rhymer believes his team has had a successful season in 2013 and looks to build on it for the future.
After taking over a program that compiled a record of 1-9 last season, Rhymer has led his team to big wins over Rockcastle County and Clay County. With a win this Friday, the Cardinals will prove they are on the right track under their new coach.
“Ever since we played our worst game of the season three weeks ago against Southwestern Pulaski, we challenged these kids and they have really responded,” said Rhymer. “Our attitudes have been great and they’ve been working hard. We couldn’t ask for much more from them.”
A win this Friday would not only be a great finish to this season, but will help carry momentum into the offseason. With most of their players returning in 2014, Rhymer expects his team to be much better and poised to make more of a push for the playoffs.
“We were the worst team in Class 5A last year. Most people didn’t expect us to win a game this season and we could possibly win three,” said Rhymer. “A win this week would be huge. It would be great for this seniors and it would be a great way to get ready for the offseason. Everyone would remember that we ended the season with a win.”
The Eagles are in a similar position. They have only won three games this season, but, unlike the Cardinals, will make the playoffs because they are in a four-seed district.
“Their coach tells me they are a young team like us. They’ve been in some tight games this year and won a few games,” said Rhymer. “They’ve been running the ball more lately and doing a better job at that. It’s a game I think we can win, but we have to do the things we’re coached to do and play good football.”
South Laurel has featured a triple option attack all season that has featured seniors Jacob Hale and Austin Rickett, along with junior quarterback Jon Jenkins. Hale and Rickett are part of the senior group who’ll be sent off in their last game as a Cardinal, and they’re looking to do it with a win.
“The seniors have been big for us this year. We’re a young team and return the majority of our players, but our seniors have been a big part of what we do,” said Rhymer. “Our kids have been so upbeat and really worked hard these past few weeks. We want to go over there and get the win and finish this season off the right way.”