Both Pulaski County and Somerset return home this week, and both need a win desperately, as the Maroons and Briar Jumpers are both coming off very disappointing losses from a week ago.
Pulaski County – 1-2 on the season – has lost two games in a row, and will be without several key players tonight. Meanwhile, Somerset -- like PC is 1-2 on the year – and needs a win on the field, as the Jumpers lone victory of the season came two weeks ago with a 1-0 forfeit win over Russell County.
Simply, both clubs need a win this evening, but it will be easier said than done, especially for Johnny Hines and the Maroons.
CORBIN at PULASKI COUNTY
For the third consecutive week, the Maroons take a shot at a legitimate Class 4A state title contender. The game tonight against the Corbin Redhounds will complete a three-game gauntlet of matchups for Pulaski County, with games against Lexington Catholic, Boyle County, and Friday against Corbin.
Most football observers would tell you there's a great chance the Class 4A state champion in 20-21 will come from this trio of teams. And, PC after tonight will have played all three, and the Maroons haven't fared to well up to date.
Two weeks ago, Pulaski County had a victory stolen away from the Maroons on the final play of the game against Lexington Catholic, thanks to a 47-yard field goal in a 38-36 loss as time expired on the clock.
Last week however, was a much different story, as Boyle County came out and punched Pulaski County in the mouth in a 60-29 blowout win over the Maroons. In that game, PC was guilty of allowing a pick six to the Rebels, fumbled a snap on a punt, and had another punt partially blocked deep inside Maroon territory. Those are the kind of mistakes that get you beat against a team like Boyle County.
And, compounding things for Pulaski County tonight in the matchup against a highly-touted Corbin team is the fact the Maroons will have seven starters out of this game, all due to exposure to Covid 19, having to sit this one out due to being quarantined.
Yes, welcome to the world we live in today, but Johnny Hines – always the guy looking at the glass that is half full – says bring on the Redhounds. The ole' ball coach says the kids that he will have dressed in uniform tonight will be more than a little ready for the challenge tonight against what he calls is an outstanding Corbin football team.
"Hey, Corbin is Corbin, and sure, we're facing adversity big-time, but I think this game will be our finest hour," stated coach Hines earlier in the week.
"We're going to bounce back – it's a long season and we're in it for the long haul," continued the Maroons head coach. "We've stumbled out of the gate and had some adversity to deal with, but we're going to get it whipped, we're going to get it together, and we're going to have a good football team. Right now, we're facing adversity squarely in the face and we know that. But, I like our football team, I think we're going to be a very good football team before all is said and done this year, and we're going to get it fixed."
Pulaski County will be without starting quarterback Drew Polston on Friday night, who suffered a shoulder injury late in the first half of last week's loss at Boyle County. Now, while Polston's status moving forward is up in the air right now, the simple fact that without Polston – and with other starters out due to quarantine – PC's challenge tonight just got a whole lot harder against a very good Corbin football team.
The Redhounds are a perfect, 3-0 on the season, and are coming off of last week's impressive, 27-7 win over a very good Franklin County football team.
Corbin has two quarterbacks in Kade Elam and Cameron Combs that have thrown for a combined, 517 yards in three games with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Seth Mills leads the way in a deep stable of running backs, having rushed for 407 yards and six TD's on the season.
And, we haven't even mentioned UK signee Treyveon Longmire, who is Corbin's speedy wide receiver on the outside and is a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches it.
"You know it's tough right now, because we're just playing good people," stated Hines, in referring to his club's 1-2 record. "Everybody says that Belfry is down this year and we beat them in our opener, but they're still Belfry. Now, we could be 3-0 right now and have taken a couple of forfeits, but that's not who we are. Our kids want to play, and they want to play every Friday night. They've trained all summer to get ready for the season, and they want to play in front of those Friday night lights and the fans, and we're going to find games to play, regardless of who that might be against."
"I do know this -- no one is giving us any chance whatsoever against Corbin on Friday night, and I love that," added Hines. "We love that underdog role. Yes, we have some kids that are out that normally would be playing in this game, but we've got some younger kids that are chomping at the bit for an opportunity, and they're going to get it on Friday night. Games as you know aren't won on paper, they are won on the field. Who knows what might happen on Friday night? I can tell you one thing for certain. Our guys and our team will be ready to play this football game; you can count on that."
Kickoff for the Corbin-Pulaski County game is set for 7:30 p.m. at PC Field.
PAINTSVILLE AT SOMERSET
Are there any two teams in the state that need a win more than Paintsville or Somerset? There might be, but one would be hard pressed to find one.
The Tigers (0-2) and Briar Jumpers (1-2) will tangle Friday night at Clark Field, and both clubs simply need a 'W'.
And, despite the fact that neither club has earned a win on the field this season, they both have something else in common as well.
In their last games played on the turf in northern Kentucky, both Paintsville and Somerset lost to Beechwood by identical scores of 49-0.
The Briar Jumpers were the most recent victim to fall to Beechwood, losing last Friday night to the Tigers by that 49-point margin. And, defending Mr. Football, Cameron Hergott was a one-man wrecking machine for Beechwood in that win over the Briar Jumpers.
Hergott completed eight of nine passes last week against Somerset for 241 yards and four touchdowns, while leading Beechwood in the game in rushing, gaining 93 yards on the ground on only two carries and another score.
Somerset meanwhile was guilty of three interceptions – one of which turned out to be a pick six – as the Tigers throttled Somerset all night long.
Paintsville meanwhile fared no better than Somerset, also losing to Beechwood two weeks ago by a 49-0 score.
The Tigers – in their two losses this season to Beechwood and Pikeville – have been anemic offensively. Simply, Paintsville's offense has been on life support.
Through two games this season, Paintsville has rushed for only 47 yards, and have just 208 yards passing. That's 255 yards of total offense in two games – not good.
Somerset's problem meanwhile has been turnovers and inconsistent play on offense.
Quarterback Josh Gross completed 16-24 pass attempts last Friday night at Beechwood for 141 yards, but he was guilty of throwing three interceptions.
The Briar Jumpers need to clean things like that up offensively, and if Somerset can take care of the ball tonight, Robbie Lucas and crew have to feel good about their chances in this game.
Then again, Paintsville feels the same way coming into tonight's contest.
Kickoff Friday night for the Somerset-Paintsville game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. from Clark Field.