An old rivalry gets renewed on Friday night at PC Field, as former district foe Bell County rolls into town to square off against the Maroons.
Meanwhile, the Southwestern Warriors will be a prohibitive favorite on the road on Friday evening traveling to London to face South Laurel, while Somerset will be a big-time underdog on the road at Lexington Christian.
Wayne County, coming off a shutout loss last week at Lincoln County, will return to Jewell Field on Friday night to host the Knox Central Panthers.
Those are the four games featuring local teams on Friday night headed into week nine of the high school football season.
BELL COUNTY AT PULASKI COUNTY
The Bobcats will roll into PC Field on Friday night with a 6-1 record on the season -- winners of their last six games -- after a season-opening 30-22 loss at North Laurel.
Pulaski County meanwhile -- winners in its last four games and 5-3 on the season -- will come into Friday's contest coming off a 40-16 victory last week at North Laurel.
These two teams used to be in the same district, way back in the early days of Johnny Hines' tenure as Pulaski County's head football coach, when he was beginning the process of developing the Maroons into a Class 5 A state contender.
Hines says he vividly remembers some of those games against the Bobcats and legendary head coach Dudley Hilton.
"Bell County is such a traditional powerhouse from the mountains, and back in the days, it was a one-sided rivalry because we have never beaten Bell County," stated the Pulaski County head coach.
"We were in the same district back with them in the late 90's when coach (John) Cain took over here, so we played them every year for about five or six years in a row," Hines added. "We never beat them back then, and we haven't played them in a long, long time -- I believe this is the first game we've played them since '98. It's an honor for us to entertain a program like Bell County with all of the tradition they have. Coach Dudley Hilton is a legend in Kentucky, and it's an honor to have him and his team in here."
The Bobcats are in the middle of a six-game winning streak and are a perfect 7-0 against the Maroons all-time, while Pulaski County has won four games in a row. So, something's got to give on Friday night.
Bell County is going to run the football -- there are no secrets with the Bobcats -- and no one knows that better than coach Hines.
The Bobcats are led by Dawson Woolum, who has gained 883 yards rushing and scored 12 touchdowns headed into Friday night's clash against the Maroons.
In Bell County's 46-34 win over Garrard County last week, Woolum gained 149 yards and scored a pair of TD's, while teammate Daniel Thomas also eclipsed the 100-yard plateau, rushing for 122 yards and a score.
To win tonight, the formula for PC is a simple one -- STOP the run. According to coach Hines, that's easier said than done when it comes to dealing with Bell County's rushing attack.
"Anybody that's ever seen Bell County play, understands exactly how they play -- they haven't changed," pointed out Hines. "Coach (Dudley) Hilton has been doing it for a long time. They're going to line up with two backs or three backs, and they're going to run the football, and they're going to run it downhill and come right at you."
"They play a very physical style, so we've got to do a very good job of handling their downhill run game," added the PC head coach.
Of course on the flip side, the Maroons are going to cause some problems of their own for Bell County's defense.
Hines says his club may be coming off of its best performance of the season last week -- a 40-16 win on the road at North Laurel.
Quarterback Drew Polston had another big night for PC, going 22-27 through the air for 250 yards and two TD's in the win over the Jaguars.
For the season, Polston has thrown for 1,567 yards, hitting on 132-174 pass attempts, with 21 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Chandler Godby continues his fine season as well, as he is now up to 48 receptions for 665 yards and 10 TD's. Brysen Dugger has 31 catches for 335 yards and a couple of scores, while Antonio Palmer has 24 catches for 321 yards and three touchdowns.
Those are PC's top three receivers, yet in last week's victory at North Laurel, Braden Gipson led the Maroons with nine catches for 86 yards and a score, showing just how deep the Maroons are offensively. Pulaski County has many different weapons in its' arsenal, forcing opposing defenses to be unable to only key on one or two different guys.
"We may have played better offensively in some other games this year, and we may have played better defensively in some other games, but to put it all together in one game, last week's game at North Laurel was probably our most complete game of the season," said Hines.
"We're getting better each week, and that's what you want to see this time of year, winding down toward the playoffs," he added.
Kickoff for the PC-Bell County game is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.
Southwestern at South Laurel
The Warriors -- since stubbing their toe in their lone loss of the season at Mercer County -- have been methodical in dismantling opponents over the past month.
Jason Foley and crew are coming off of last week's 50-16 win over Whitley County, and have scored 117 points over their last three games.
Southwestern's ground attack continues to wreak havoc on opposing defenses and shows no sign of slowing down.
In last week's win over the Colonels, the Warriors racked up 249 yards on the ground, led by sophomore Christian Walden, who ran for 67 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
Tanner Wright continues to pace Southwestern in rushing, as he comes into Friday night's game at South Laurel with 668 yards and eight TD's.
Giddeon Brainard is also enjoying another stellar season, as he has rushed for 576 yards and five touchdowns for the Warriors.
South Laurel meanwhile is coming off its' first win of the season last week -- a 28-18 triumph over Lewis County. However, don't be fooled by the Cards victory. Southwestern is a big-time favorite in this contest.
The Cards have had all kinds of problems slowing opponents down this season.
Even in counting a 1-0 forfeit loss to Knox Central earlier in the year due to Covid 19, Jep Irwin's club is allowing an average of 43.5 points per contest to opponents. That doesn't exactly bode well facing a Southwestern team that has a dynamic rushing attack, and is seemingly gaining yards and putting up points at will regardless of the opponent.
Kickoff for Friday night's game between Southwestern and South Laurel is set for 7:30 p.m.
Somerset at Lexington Christian Academy
Somerset needs a win in the worst way, but a trip up north to face an outstanding LCA football team -- a team that owns a victory this season over Boyle County -- is certainly not what the doctor ordered for the Briar Jumpers.
However, this is a district game for the Briar Jumpers, who are very familiar with just how good of a football program the Eagles have have over the past few seasons.
And, this year is no different. Doug Charles' club brings in a perfect, 7-0 record into Friday night's game, and is coming off a very impressive, 55-0 win over Washington County last week.
The Eagles are led by quarterback Drew Nieves and running back Xavier Brown. Going into last week's game at Washington County, Brown had ran for 504 yards on the year and scored five TD's.
Somerset -- 1-7 on the year, but 0-7 in games played -- are coming off of last week's 41-21 district loss at the hands of Danville.
In that game, the Briar Jumpers got a pretty solid game from quarterback Josh Bruner, who completed 16-22 pass attempts for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
Guy Bailey rushed for 102 yards and scored a TD, but it wasn't enough to give Somerset its first real win of the season.
The Jumpers are playing with house money on Friday night, because LCA is huge favorite in this game, and no one gives Robbie Lucas and company a chance of winning this contest. Maybe, just maybe, Somerset's luck will change for the better on Friday night.
Kickoff for the Somerset--LCA game is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday night.
Knox Central at Wayne County
Wayne County -- 4-3 on the season -- welcomes in the Knox Central Panthers into Jewell Field on Friday night.
The Cardinals are coming off of arguably their most disappointing performance of the season last week -- a 29-0 loss to open district play at Lincoln County.
In that game, Wayne County was limited to only 179 yards of total offense against the Patriots, gaining 89 yards on the ground and only 90 yards through the air.
Justin Curry paced Wayne County with 33 yards rushing in that contest on nine carries, while quarterback Antajuan Dumphord went 10-16 through the air for 79 yards with an interception.
Knox Central meanwhile is 3-4 on the season, and is in the midst of a three game losing slide, with losses to Paintsville, Bourbon County, and Corbin.
In that contest last week against the top-rated Redhounds, Corbin took Knox Central behind the woodshed in a 56-0 rout over the Panthers.
So both clubs come into Friday night's game with something to prove, and will try to put last week behind them, as both teams suffered shutout losses.
Kickoff for Friday night's Wayne County--Knox Central game is slated to get underway at 7:30 p.m.