Maroons look to keep momentum against Perry County Central
By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent Commonwealth Journal
The Pulaski County Maroons put their perfect and unblemished 11-0 record on the line tonight in the second round of the Class 5 A playoffs, and head coach Johnny Hines is a little more than concerned going into this contest.
Tonight’s opponent — the 6-5 Perry County Central Commodores — will roll into PC Field this evening with a 6-5 mark on the season, and they are a team the PC coach says can potentially give his club multiple problems.
However, in the proverbial case of — ‘The Numbers Tell the Whole Story’ — Hines’ cause for concern may be a little overrated.
Case in point — several cases as a matter of fact.
Number one — Pulaski County has scored more points than any team in the state of Kentucky in Class 5 A this season — with a total of 489 points, good enough for a 44.5 per game average.
Number two — tonight’s game is at PC Field — a venue where the Maroons simply have owned their opponents over the past seven seasons.
At the end of the 2006 campaign, Pulaski County High School went through a massive renovation of the football facilities, putting in new bleachers, a new press box, etc.
Since that renovation, or the beginning of the 2007 season, Pulaski County has posted an impressive, 36-4 record at PC Field, good enough for a winning percentage of .900.
Number three — in 10 playoff games at home, Pulaski County is a perfect 10-0.
Number four — been there, done that.
This will be the third time in the past five seasons Perry County Central has traveled to Pulaski County for a playoff game, and the Commodores have had very little success against the Maroons on PC’s home turf.
In 2009, the two clubs met in the opening round of the playoffs, with Pulaski County winning by a 35-21 margin over the Commodores.
The next season in round two of post season play, PC prevailed by a more comfortable margin of 37-6.
Will tonight and the third time be the charm for Justin Haddix’ club?
Most everyone outside of the PC program — media members, fans, and the like will say the answer to that is a resounding ‘No’.
Hines however sees tonight’s game as a real challenge for his football team — a team that really hasn’t been challenged much at all in 2013.
“When you get to the second round of the playoffs, all the bad teams are gone,” stated a very candid PC coach earlier in the week.
“There’s nothing left but good football teams, and there is a reason that teams get to the second round of the playoffs,” continued the Maroon head coach. “Perry Central’s a good football team and they’ve got a lot of talent. They’ve got some speed athletes and some huge linemen, and they do a lot of things well. They can run up a lot of points on you in a hurry. They’re a scary, scary team.”
Sounded like for a moment that Hines was describing his own football team.
The one thing that Hines is correct about is the fact the Commodores do have some outstanding athletes on the roster.
Junior quarterback Nathan Pray has enjoyed a decent year throwing the football, connecting on 73-143 attempts for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns, to go along with 6 interceptions.
Pulaski County however can counter those numbers with sophomore Riley Hall, who has enjoyed a monster sophomore campaign.
Counting last week’s 47-22 blowout win over Whitley County in the opening round of the post season, Hall has completed 158-245 pass attempts for 2,272 yards, to go along with 27 TD passes and only 5 interceptions.
Perry County Central’s leading rusher is senior Devan Brewer, who has amassed 828 yards rushing the season with 7 TD’s.
PC meanwhile has a three-headed monster that will no doubt pose the Commodores some major headaches tonight on the other side of the football.
Junior running back Caleb Cox has ran for 785 yards this season — which included last week’s 69-yard run against Whitley County for a score — and 5 touchdowns.
Hall meanwhile has rushed for 699 yards and 5 TD’s, while Aaron Smith has been a beast all year long, rushing for 587 yards and 16 TD’s.
And those numbers don’t even take into account guys like Jesse Whitaker and Zach Whiles who have both hand their own shining moments this season in the PC backfield.
Still, Hines maintains that he is concerned about facing a multi-talented Perry County Central team this evening in round two of the post season, in a game that he honestly sees as a big-time challenge for his club.
“Our number one concern coming into this game is Perry Central’s personnel,” stated Hines.
“Their quarterback (Nathan Pray) is a dangerous runner from the quarterback position, and they love to run the ball out of the spread offense with their quarterback, kind of like some Johnny Manziel-type stuff,” continued the PC coach. “That’s a concern, because this kid is a very good athlete with a lot of speed, and he can turn a little five-yard gain into a big play. On the outside, they’ve got a very nice receiver in John Toomer. He’s an outstanding receiver, and he is one of those guys that remind me a lot of our receivers — when he catches the ball the play’s just starting.”
Of course PC can counter that with a pair of outstanding wide receivers as well.
Freshman Jake Johnson has made a huge impact this season offensively for the Maroons, leading Pulaski with 59 receptions for 776 yards and 7 touchdowns.
George Gregory has also enjoyed a banner year, with 39 catches for 761 yards and 9 TD’s, so with all things being equal tonight, this could very well be a high scoring game.
“I know a lot of people have us favored and think this will somehow be a blowout, but they had better think again,” Hines stated.
“Perry Central lost two or three games they could have easily have won, so this is a team that could easily be coming in here on Friday night with a 9-2 record,” added the PC coach. “This game could very well go down to the wire, with the team that has the ball last pulling out a win. It could be that kind of game.”
Of course the ace in the hole for the Maroons this evening is the fact this game is at the friendly confines of PC Field — a place where Hines and crew just simply do not lose.
And, the PC head coach says he is looking for a big crowd to come out this evening and help his club get over the hump and advance to a regional title game for the third time in the past four years.
“Hopefully we’ll have a big crowd for this game and a lot of folks will come out and see our team play,” said Hines. “It’s a fun group to watch, a fun group to coach, and I’m proud of them for everything they have accomplished this year.”
Kickoff for tonight’s PC—Perry County Cent-ral game is slated to get underway at PC Field beginning at 7:30 p.m.