By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
The Pulaski County Maroons have been called a lot of things this season through just eight games.
Johnny Hines’ club has been called ‘young’ — it’s been called ‘lucky’ — and it’s been called ‘The Cardiac Kids’.
Heck, according to Hines himself after last night’s game against visiting South Laurel, the PC coach said that his club was referred to as a ‘finesse team’ by someone on the South Laurel coaching staff this week in a London newspaper.
Well, you can now add one more nickname to the Pulaski County Maroons in 2012.
After last night’s 34-9 pasting over the Cardinals at PC Field, you can now simply call Pulaski County ‘District Champs’.
Tyler Goins took the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and the Maroons never looked back en route to a 34-9 victory over South Laurel, improving PC to 6-2 on the season, but more importantly the Maroons ran their record in district play to a perfect 4-0.
Earlier in the week, Hines indicated that he would make no comments whatsoever about a district title until his club had played every team within its district.
With a 4-0 slate in league play, the only team standing in PC’s way to an undefeated district mark is Southwestern, which will be the Maroons opponent next week.
Regardless of the outcome of that contest against the Warriors next week, PC with last night’s win, nailed down the Maroons third district championship over the past four seasons.
With that being said, the PC coach was very happy with the way his club started off Friday night’s tilt with South Laurel — racing out to a 21-0 lead after one quarter of play, on its way to the 34-9 victory.
“We did get out to a good start tonight,” stated a very happy PC head coach after the contest.
“We made a few plays early, and when you run the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, it’s hard to start off a game any better than that,” pointed out coach Hines. “What a great job by that unit. They’ve worked hard all year long, and they’ve been so close in some of our other game’s of taking one back for a touchdown. To start off tonight with a kickoff return for a score and get a quick lead in this game was very exciting.”
Goins’ 95-yard kickoff return for a TD did indeed get Pulaski off to a quick start, but the Maroons were hardly finished in the opening stanza.
Quarterback Riley Hall threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Goins later in the first quarter extending the PC advantage out to 14-0, and later in the frame, he hooked up with his older brother Aaron Hall for a 24-yard score.
With that touchdown — Riley Hall’s second TD toss of the first quarter — PC was in cruise control, leading South Laurel 21-0 after 12 minutes were in the books.
With 7:54 remaining in the first half, Aaron Smith’s one-yard plunge extended the margin to 28-0 over the Cardinals, and a district championship was well within the Maroons’ grasp at that juncture of the contest.
“That quick kickoff return by our special teams tonight really got us going, and it put us in a position to lead early in the game, which is a position we really haven’t been in for the past few games,” noted Hines.
“It was a good start by our guys, and I thought defensively we played very well in the first half,” continued the Maroons coach. “We really put the clamps on their run game in the first half and forced them to be one dimensional on offense.”
Indeed, PC’s defense was extremely tight in the opening half of play, holding the Cardinals to a minus-27 yards rushing in the first half on 16 carries.
The only offense South Laurel was able to generate in the opening half was late in the second period, when kicker Matt Slavey connected on a 37-yard field goal, trimming the PC lead to 28-3 at the intermission.
Backup quarterback Jonathan Jenkins gave South Laurel its only TD of the evening late in the third period thanks to a 5-yard run, cutting the PC lead to 28-9 at that point of the contest.
However, the Maroons countered that score midway through the fourth quarter, when the Hall boys hooked up yet again — this time on a fourth and goal play from the South Laurel seven-yard line, when Riley found Aaron in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Aaron Hall made a great catch on that scoring play, as the ball was tipped just before he hauled in the pass by a South Laurel defender.
Again, Hines did not want to talk at all about a district championship until after next week’s game with Southwestern, and while the PC coach is pleased with the 4-0 district mark and the current five-game winning streak his club is on, he readily admits that his club has yet to scratch the surface of how good it can be this season.
“We still haven’t played our best game, and we continue to talk to these guys about that,” pointed out Hines.
“We play good in spots, and then sometimes we lose some intensity and make some mistakes, and that’s happened all year long,” added the PC coach. “The key to us in improving each week is in those spots where we play bad, to get less and less each game. I think we are doing that. I think mentally we got a little stale tonight in the third quarter and thought we already had the game put away. We lost our intensity in the third period, and we gave up a touchdown to South Laurel. Hopefully, we’ll learn from that experience.”
Pulaski County — now 6-2 on the season and 4-0 in district play — will try to wrap up a perfect district record next week, traveling across town to face arch-rival Southwestern.
The Warriors — thanks to last night’s 24-14 home loss to Lincoln County — will come limping into next week’s game against the Maroons with a 3-5 record overall, with no hope of making the playoffs in 2012, as last night’s setback to the Patriots eliminated the Warriors from post season contention.
Game time for next week’s contest is set for 7:30 p.m. at The Reservation.
SL — 0 3 6 0 — 9
PC — 21 7 0 6 — 34
PC — Goins 95 kickoff return (Burgett kick)
PC — Goins 22 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — A. Hall 24 pass from R. Hall (Burgett kick)
PC — Smith 1 run (Burgett kick)
SL — Slavey 37 FG
SL — Jenkins 5 run (Kick failed)
PC — A. Hall 7 pass from R. Hall (Kick failed)
RUSHING — (SL) Jenkins 5-18 TD, Phelps 4-10. (PC) Goins 5-52, Smith 12-38, Wooldridge 3-28, R. Hall 5-26.
PASSING — (SL) Jenkins 20-38 243. (PC) Hall 15-26 141 3 TD 2 INT.
RECEIVING — (SL) Mitchell 7-104, Hale 7-94. (PC) A. Hall 4-47 2 TD, Smith 4-44, Goins 3-28 TD.