, Corbin, KY

Sports Editorials

September 21, 2012

Fear 'Les' Football Forecast

CORBIN — Harlan Co. at K. Central

Where: Panther Stadium

Date: Friday, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Team Records: Harlan Co. 4-1, K.C. 5-0

The inside scoop: A showdown between two of the best teams in southeastern Kentucky will take place Friday at Knox Central’s Panther Stadium when Class 5A power Harlan County will pay a visit to play Scottie Russell’s unbeaten Panthers.

The Black Bears enter the game with an impressive 4-1 record along with a four-game win streak. Their lone loss came during their season-opener against Morristown-Hamblen West, Tenn., 35-25.

Knox Central is off to a program first 5-0 mark and hopes to extend its win streak to six games, but Russell admitted it’s not going to be easy.

“It’s never easy when you’re going against a Tom Larkey-coached team,” Russell said. “Harlan County is a very good team and they’re not going to do anything to try and fool you. Coach Larkey is going to line up and run right at you and we’ve got to find a way to stop them.

“They’re not flashy and they don’t have to be,” he added. “They have a very good running game.”

Harlan County is averaging 371 rushing yards a game and 423 yards a game of total offense. The Black Bears have four players that have rushed for at least 100 yards this season with Jake Middleton’s 782 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground leading the way. Cole Wilson has 216 rushing yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Austin Maggard has rushed for 118 yards and Treyvon Long has 104.

Harlan County doesn’t pass much, but when it does, Maggard has been efficient.

He has completed 16-of-18 pass attempts for 203 yards and two touchdowns.

“They don’t do anything flashy,” Russell said. “ But they are hard to stop. This is a big game for us. A win would propel us into district play and it would also be big for the program and the season.”

The Black Bears will have their eyes on stopping Mr. Football candidate Jeffrey Canady, but with a healthy Jonathan Gist returning to the mix, they will have their hands full.

Canady leads Knox Central with 951 rushing yards on only 91 carries and he has reached paydirt 15 times. Gist has carried the ball 79 times for 626 yards and five touchdowns.

“We know people are going to come in and try to stop Jeffrey, but we’ve got other weapons they’re going to have to focus on, too,” Russell said. “Jonathan is 100 percent ready to go and we’ve got to be ready to play.”

Fear ‘Les’ Prediction: Harlan Co. 21, Knox Central 14

No. Laurel at So. Laurel

Where: Gilliam Field

Date: Friday, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Team Records: N. Laur. 3-2, S. Laur. 1-4

The inside scoop: When you think about rivalries in the Tri-County, one of the first that comes to mind has to be anything involving North and South Laurel.

Well, if rivalry football is what you’re looking for tonight, a trip to Gilliam Field at South Laurel will be the perfect place as the Cardinals host North Laurel.

Add to the mix that tonight’s game is the first district matchup of the season for both teams and you can only imagine the weight both coaches are carrying on their shoulders.

“This is one of those games that you really want to win for several reasons,” South Laurel coach Larry Welch said. “First is the rivalry factor and the fact it’s a district game.

“Added to that, Chris Larkey is a good friend of mine and we both want to win,” he added. “I guess in the end, it’s not so much pressure, but a matter of pride because this is a game that the whole community will talk about.”

Larkey echoed the same sentiments when it came to the talk of pressure.

“You want to win for the community as well as your school, and the kids on the team,” Larkey said. “If you don’t win, you really feel like you’ve let people down and the students feel that way as well.”

North Laurel comes into the game with a 3-2 record following a 45-35 loss to Russell County last week. The Jaguars held a 35-31 lead with six minutes to play in the game, but Russell County scored twice in the closing minutes to get the win.

Despite the loss, Larkey said he was pleased with the team’s effort, but cautioned his kids not to look too much into that game.

“You want your kids to feed off the solid effort from the Russell County game, but at the same time you don’t want them to get too high on themselves,” Larkey said. “If we start thinking we’re too good, then we start looking over teams and we can’t afford to do that any time, especially against South.”

Fear ‘Les’ Prediction: North Laurel 35, South Laurel 27

Lynn Camp at Whitley Co.

Where: Colonel Stadium

Date: Friday, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Team Records: L. Camp 2-3, Whit. Co. 2-2

The inside scoop: The Whitley County Colonels and Lynn Camp Wildcats are two teams headed in opposite directions. Come this evening though, they will have a common goal and that will be to win a hard-fought football game.

The Colonels are 2-2 and are fresh off a 35-21 win over a tough Clay County team, while Lynn Camp limped out of a 53-7 thumping at the hands of the Harlan Green Dragons to fall to 2-3 on the year.

Despite the records and what both teams have done thus far, Whitley County coach Jim Black said he feels like Friday’s game is going to be a tough one.

“I expect a typical Whitley County against Lynn Camp game and that’s a physical one,” Black said. “We’re going to have to go out there and execute just like you do every week if you want to come out on top.

“We’ve played some pretty tough games over the years against them and I expect to have to do the same Friday,” he added.

For Lynn Camp, a few injuries may put a damper on what the Wildcats try to do offensively, but coach Phil Russell said his team will come ready to play.

“We have some bumps and bruises after the Harlan game and we’ll be without Aaron Mills as well as Jordan Steel due to injury,” Russell said. “We’ll just have to fill their spots and try and find some younger kids to step in and fill the voids.

“This is going to be a battle for us, but any time you play Whitley County you can expect a physical contest,” he added. “We’re looking forward to playing Whitley County though because they have a very good team and a really good program.”

One thing the Wildcats will have to deal with is one of the top running games in the Tri-County in the Colonels.

As a team, Whitley County is averaging 281 yards per game on the ground, with freshman phenom Zack Mills accounting for 82 yards per game.

Mills has carried the ball 45 times this year for 403 yards through five games, averaging a shade under nine yards (8.95) per carry.

On the other side of things, Whitley County is only allowing 157 yards per game on the ground. That difference is a big reason the Colonels are 3-2.

“Our running game is really a huge factor for us and it’s good to have so many options,” Black said. “When you have those kinds of options, it’s really a pick-your-poison style of offense you can use.”

Fear ‘Les’ Prediction: Whitley County 49, Lynn Camp 6

Allen Central at W’burg

Where: Williamsburg High School

Date: Friday, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Team Records: Allen Cn. 0-4, W’burg 4-1

The inside scoop: What a difference a year makes. Last season the Allen Central Rebels posted a 6-5 record and almost knocked off Williamsburg at home before losing, 28-20.

The Rebels will be hard-pressed to repeat the feat today at Williamsburg.

Allen Central will enter the game with an 0-4 mark while averaging only nine points a contest while surrendering 39 points a game.

A far contrast from what Allen Central had last season when the Rebels made a run at the Class A playoffs.

“They were really hit hard by graduation,” Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron said. “They do have the Zack Murphy kid back, who we had a rough time stopping last season.”

To make matters worse, Allen Central will be going against a Williamsburg (4-1) squad that is licking its wounds after dropping its first game of the season last week, a 23-20 decision to Oneida, Tenn.

“That was a tough game last week,” Herron said. “You could say that we’re ready to play. Oneida played well against us and we just couldn’t get a stop — we were six inches away from a win.”

With that said, Herron believes his team is ready to get back on the gridiron.

“We’ve got to be ready,” he said. “Last year, I don’t think we were ready to play Allen Central last season and we ended up getting into a dogfight.

“We can’t afford to do that Friday,” he added. “We can’t come in and underestimate them. We need to go out there and play good, hard-nosed football.”

The Yellow Jackets will try to get their air attack going against the Rebels Friday, as quarterback Dalton Sizemore has completed 102 of 163 pass attempts for 1,337 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also leads the team in rushing with 252 yards and three scores.

The receiving duo of Skyler Griffith and Corey Shelton is hard to contain. Griffith leads the way with 31 receptions for 491 yards and six sores, while Shelton has 29 catches for 469 yards and nine TDs.

The Yellow Jackets were cruising along, winning their first four games by an average of 36-10 before losing to Oneida, Tenn., last week.

Herron said he hopes to see his team get on track on both sides of the ball even though Williamsburg will be without five starters Friday.

“We have have had a good attitude this week and we’re working hard,” he said. “We’re going to have probably five kids out again, but we’ve just got to deal with that and move on.”

Fear ‘Les’ Prediction: Williamsburg 56, Allen Central 0

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