Gridiron action heating up in Week 3

The Kentucky high school football season heads into Week 3, after all three local gridiron teams enjoyed wins in last Friday's match-ups. Pulaski County and Southwestern both enjoyed their first wins of the season with come-from-behind victories on the road. Meanwhile, Somerset rolled to another impressive blowout win.

Beechwood at

Somerset

After a 75-13 trashing of Montgomery County in Week 2, the Briar Jumpers will now fave - perhaps - their biggest test of the regular season, as they host the defending Class A state champions Beechwood Tigers.

Somerset High School football coach Robbie Lucas was pleased with the way his team played last Friday in their blowout road win, but he warned the lopsided score was a little deceiving.

"Montgomery County was not that bad and we are not that good," Lucas stated. "We got on top early and got on them quick. They showed us single coverage, that we were able to pop one over the top. We were happy to get the win and our JV teams scored the last three or four touchdowns of the game, so that score was not indicative of the varsity score."

Not only did the Briar Jumpers' junior varsity players get plenty of reps at the varsity level on Friday, they also put points on the board. And Lucas admitted that getting younger kids in varsity games will help the program in the future.

"That has sort of been the secret to our success over the past few years, that our varsity has been good enough to allow JV to see playing time on Friday nights and prepare them for next season," Lucas stated. "Back a few years ago, we didn't have the opportunity to do that as much."

This year, Beechwood has joined the ranks of Class 2A, and if the Briar Jumpers want to hold up to their Class 2A #2 ranking they have to try to match-up with the visiting #5 Tigers. Beechwood has dominated the series since they began playing back in 2015, and Lucas puts the blame on himself.

"I have had utter failure playing against Northern Kentucky, and I have never once got past them," Lucas admitted. "It is Beechwood and they are one of the best teams in the state. They are very disciplined, extremely well coached and they do everything you want a program to do. Anytime you play a caliber of team like Beechwood, you are wanting to see how you measure up. To this point, I have not measured up."

In 2017, Somerset played Beechwood solid and only lost by a tight score of 7-0, but last season Beechwood rolled to a 28-0 win in less than two quarters of play. Stormy weather, mercifully, ended the game in 2018. Somerset hopes to fair much better in this year's match-up with the powerful Beechwood Tigers.

"Defensively, we have to shut down their QB (Cameron Hergott)," Lucas stated. "He is a guy that is good with his arm and good with his legs. Receiver Mason Williams is pretty good. We have got to be able to take blocks up front, and shed those. If we keep their QB contained, I feel good about our chances."

"Offensively, it would be nice to get off to a hot start, but then we may not," Lucas stated. "I don't think Beechwood is going to allow us to have zero coverage man and allow us to throw over the top. I think we will see cover-two or cover-three, and they will make us earn it down the field. They might try to pressure Kaiya (Sheron), which not a lot of have teams did yet this season."

#2 (2A) Somerset (2-0) will host #5 (2A) Beechwood (0-1) at William Clark Field on Friday, Sept. 6, at 7:30 p.m.

Southwestern at Knox Central

With a team depleted by injures, the short-handed Southwestern High School football team came from behind to send the game at Madison Southern into overtime. And a gutsy call to go for the two-point conversion, gave the Warriors their first win of the season and Jason Foley his first win as the Warriors head coach.

"Our team showed a lot of grit by being able to come back and win in a tough environment on the road," stated Foley.

In the overtime, Southwestern gambled for the win with the two-point conversion after a scored touchdown.

"We felt like the momentum was on our side," Foley stated. "I never really ever second guessed our decision to go for two points. We have one extra point blocked earlier in the game, and we felt like that was the best and safest decision to just go for it and the win."

The Warriors will be on the road on Friday, as they visit the 0-2 Panthers of Knox Central. But Knox Central's two setback where to two strong programs - Ashland Blazer and Bell County.

"Anytime you go to Knox Central it is a tough place to play," Foley learned. "Knox Central is a very good football team that is big up front on the offensive and defensive lines. They have already played some very good competition in their first two games. We know it is a difficult test for us, and we have to be ready."

"Defensively, we got to find the football much better than we did last week, and our defense has to step it up," Foley continued. "We just need to build on the things we started on offense."

The Warriors' biggest game improvement could be how many players they get back from the injured reserved list.

"We are going to have a couple back," Foley stated. "Xavier Streeter, Ethan McGuire, and Mason Parsons will be back. We did lose Mason Hibbard to a hamstring last week, and Cameron Pierce is trying to recover from a knee bone bruise. Dylan Asher has had a death is his family, so we are unsure about his status."

"We got three back, but we may lose a couple too," Foley stated. "So, we got to keep battling it until we get them all back together."

#12 (5A) Southwestern (1-1) will travel to #16 (4A) Knox Central (0-2) on Friday, Sept. 6, at 7:30 p.m.

Pulaski County at Corbin

Pulaski County will play on the road for the third straight week of the season, and the traveling Maroons will also face a third straight tough foe. The Maroons fell behind to Wayne County last week, only to come back for their first victory of the season.

"We did have a bit of a slow start, but I was proud of our team," Pulaski County High School football coach Johnny Hines stated. "We played hard, played with a lot of intensity and played with a lot of aggressiveness. We showed a lot of moxie by coming back after getting behind. It is not easy to play at Wayne County, they are a good team, and their fans are right on top of you. It was good to see our team overcome that adversity to get that win."

Hines said the joy of last week's thrilling victory is in the past, and now their focus has shifted to this Friday's game at Corbin.

"There is never time for celebration, and we operate on the 24-hour rule," Hines explained. "If we win, we might celebrate for 24 hours, put it away, and move on to the next opponent. If it is a loss, we are going to hurt for 24 hours, figure out what we need to do differently and then put it away too."

Corbin has already won their first two games of the season and are ranked fourth in the Class 4A polls.

"Corbin is an outstanding team, and they are very well coached," Hines stated. "Corbin is one of the top five teams in Class 4A, and - again - it is another tough place to play."

"We have to overcome that adversity of playing in their historic stadium," Hines said. "We have got to execute better offensively, and be more consistent. We had some good drives in the Wayne County game, but we got some areas we need to tighten up."

"We have got to improve defensively in our pass coverage, and we got to do a better job in our kick-off coverage," Hines explained. "So there are a lot of areas that we need to tighten up, but we need to go down there and play better than we did the week before."

Pulaski County has a few injuries to deal with in the early season.

"Trey Price is still out for an indefinite amount of time and Paul Judd will be out with an ankle sprain," Hines stated.

With Price out of the line-up as one of the Maroons' running backs, converted linebacker Tristan Cox is still seeing a lot of action at that offensive position. Last week, Cox ran the ball 10 times for 128 yards.

"We still have running back by committee," Hines explained. "Evan Cherry is doing a good job, Evan Mercer is getting a lot of work and Devan Tolson can play that position. Obviously, Tristan Cox distanced himself from the pack by his performance down at Wayne County. We got a lot of guys we can use in that position until someone steps up to take over that position."

#7 (5A) Pulaski County (1-1) will travel to #3 (4A) Corbin on Friday, Sept. 6, at 7:30 p.m.

STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at sports@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.

Steve Cornelius has worked as a journalist at the Commonwealth Journal since 2001, and has been the CJ Sports Editor since 2005.

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