, Corbin, KY

November 16, 2012

Jackets could surprise

Williamsburg has the talent to put an end to Hazard's Class A domination

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — When I got my assignments this week from Times-Tribune Sports Editor Les Dixon I have to be the first to admit, I was excited.

Yes, as hard as that is to believe, some people in this country still get excited about their job and I am one of them.

Sure there are days that I'd rather stay home and hang out with my family, but in all reality, things could be a lot worse for me. The way things are with the job market and the economy, not only am I lucky to have a job, but I get to do two things I love to do and those are write and watch sports.

So, back to the assignment at hand, which is writing an opinion column on this week's playoff match-up between the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets and Hazard Bulldogs.

To say this is a huge game for the Williamsburg football program would be like saying Walmart is going to be busy the morning after Thanksgiving.

Not only does Jerry Herron's squad have a shot at advancing to the state semifinals, but they get a chance to knock off the defending state champions in Hazard.

Sure it will be a tough task, but I think the Yellow Jackets have the fire power to get the job done.

I've had the chance to cover Williamsburg several times this season and each time I've been equally impressed not only with how they play football, but also with how they go about the game.

The Williamsburg kids are always polite and helpful on the sidelines if you have a question and they are easy to mess with. If you know me that's a good thing because I'm always trying to joke around or pull some kind of fast one on somebody just to keep the mood light.

As for Hazard, looking at their numbers over the course of this season, they are a pretty impressive football team on paper. Unfortunately, that's all I have to go on as I haven't seen much of them other than some late night highlight on Friday nights.

Offensively, they're averaging 427 yards per game with 213 of those coming via the ground game and the other 204 thanks to the passing game.

The Bulldogs have two guys in the backfield that have tallied respectable yardage this season in Brandon Jones (542 yards, eight touchdowns) and Nathan Higgins (498 yards and eight touchdowns). They also have quarterback Evan Whitaker, who is just as much a scoring threat on the ground as he is through the air with 350 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

When it comes to the passing game, Whitaker has racked up 2,113 yards and 16 touchdowns, while completing 123 of 213 pass attempts.

Obviously, the Bulldogs seem to be a fairly balanced team when it comes to offense.

Williamsburg is a bit of a different story, with the bulk of their yardage coming via the passing game.

Quarterback Dalton Sizemore has thrown for 2,974 yards and 39 touchdowns, completing 186 of 305 pass attempts. He has only been intercepted 13 times, giving him an impressive 3-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio.

As for the ground game, Sizemore leads the way in that category as well with 577 yards and five touchdowns. Jefferson Patrick is the Yellow Jackets' leading scorer when it comes to running the football, tallying nine touchdowns with 474 yards on 74 carries.

Given the numbers, this game should be a close one and could possibly come down to a few possessions and a turnover here and there. If a quality high school football game is what you're interested in Friday night, it may be worth your while to make the trip to Hazard tonight.

If you're looking for a prediction out of me in this column, I haven't decided who it's going to be yet. If you know my track record in predictions, you might not want to pay any attention to my choice anyway.

The one thing I can predict is that I will be there on the sidelines, and whether Williamsburg wins or loses, I have a feeling this could be one of the most memorable games in a long time for the Yellow Jackets.