Just how weird has the 2020 high school football season been in the state of Kentucky?
Well, you don't have to look very far to get the answer to that question -- just look at the roller coaster ride the Pulaski County Maroons have been on in one wild and wacky season.
Before the 2020 season ever kicked off, Pulaski County lost home games to Belfry (Don Franklin Bowl), Corbin, Wayne County (Twice), and to Henry Clay due to COVID-19.
To this date, the Maroons have not had a homecoming game, but that all changes Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the opening round of the Class 5 A playoffs.
"We have never dealt with a layoff like we had and it is all new to us," Pulaski County High School football coach Johnny Hines stated. "We expected maybe a little more rust and maybe being out of sync. However, we were pleasantly surprised that the team practiced very well and seemed to be in pretty good shape. They were excited to be out on the field again, and overall we had a good week of practice."
"When you look around the state and see that a lot of teams had to close down their season, we realize we were very fortunate to be able to still play in the playoffs," Hines admitted. "I think the kids realize how fortunate they are to have this opportunity to play football, and they are excited about it."
And, let's talk about that game, and talk some more about a wild and wacky season.
Friday night's game with North Laurel will mark the first time in 21 days that Pulaski County's football team will have played a game. A three-week layoff before heading into the playoffs is not exactly an ideal situation, coupled with the fact Johnny Hines and company will have had only four practices over those 21 days to get ready for the Jaguars in an elimination game.
All things considered, it's going to be a daunting task to overcome all of those obstacles against a North Laurel team that has been practicing, and has had three weeks of said practice to get ready for a much-anticipated rematch with the Maroons.
"North Laurel is a very good team," Hines warned. "When we played them during the regular season, they had two or three starters that were out with injuries that will be back healthy. So they are going to be a better team than they were when we played them in the regular season."
"Coach (Chris) Larkey does a good job preparing for us and he always has a great game plan," Hines stated. "There is no doubt this is going to be a close, tough game and it is going to be a shootout until the end."
After several PC players testing positive for COVID-19 immediately following a 42-19 win at Tates Creek way back on October 30, Johnny Hines and company were forced into quarantine for the next 14 days.
This past Monday, Pulaski County -- fresh out of 'quarantine jail' -- hit the practice field for the first time in 18 days to attempt to get ready for a well-prepared North Laurel team, itching to avenge a 41-18 loss to PC way back on October 9th.
Meanwhile, North Laurel hasn't played a game since October 30th either -- a 43-8 loss to Wayne County -- but the Jags have not been in quarantine, unlike Pulaski County, and have been able to practice over the past three weeks. Again, Pulaski County will have had only four practices leading up to tonight's game.
"The biggest thing for us defensively is to stop (North Laurel's) run game," Hines stated. "They ran the ball against us a whole lot better than we would have liked in that first game. Even though they are spreading the field and throwing the ball a lot, we have to stop their run game and force them to be one dimensional."
"Special teams and field possession is going to big in this game too," Hines added. "Special teams are always important in the playoffs, because it is just too easy to win or lose games because of special teams. A lot of times teams practice the onside and pooch kicks all throughout the season, but maybe never use them in regular season games. So you always have to expect the unexpected in the playoffs, and especially against North Laurel."
Will the 7-1 Maroons be ready tonight? Will the Maroons be rusty? Are they going to be in game shape? Will the 21-day layoff be a blessing or a curse?
Answers to above said questions will be answered tonight at 7:30 p.m., as the Maroons will put their seven-game win streak on the line against a 3-5 North Laurel team; the first game for either club in 21 days. Welcome to the 2020 high school football season in Kentucky, in the middle of a wild and wacky COVID-19 world.