Pulaski, Southwestern host district foes

As we roll into Week 7 of the high school football schedule the games have more importance, as most teams are going into their all-important district schedule. That is the case with both the local county schools, as Pulaski County hosts South Laurel and Southwestern hosts North Laurel. Meanwhile, Somerset travels to Hazard for a tough road game.

Somerset (#1 in 2A) at Hazard (#3 in A)

LAST WEEK: The Briar Jumpers upped their record to a perfect 5-0 with a huge 64-12 win over Russellville on Homecoming Night. The Briar Jumpers controlled the game in every phase with seven offensive touchdowns, two defensive touchdowns and had seven different players in the end zone.

"We were overmatched against Russlleville and they were young in a lot of spots," Somerset High School football coach Robbie Lucas stated. "We got a lot of kids involved in the game and I think every phase of the game scored."

"We played a lot better than we practiced last week," Lucas continued. "It was a good win, and anytime we can get a win we will take it."

And while the win kept the Briar Jumpers perched atop the Associated Press Class 2A state rankings, the victory over the 0-6 Russellville Panthers dropped Somerset two spots in the statewide RPI standings.

THIS WEEK: Somerset will now face their toughest road test, thus far in the season, when they travel to Hazard on Friday. The Briar Jumpers have won their last three match-ups with Hazard, but the games have always been competitive and Hazard is a tough place to play at.

"Playing on Hazard's field gives them a big home field advantage," Lucas stated. "I hear every year where they had graduated their size and speed, and then you put the (game) film on and it is 'Groundhog Day' all over again. They have absolutely no issues of finding big kids that can move and are athletic."

The Bulldogs have a balanced offensive attack with 801 rushing yards and 903 passing yards thus far this season. Trajon Campbell is their top rusher - averaging 80 yards per game - while Andrew Ford is their top receiver - averaging 52 yards per game.

"They line up in tank, which we call a three-back, and they just hammer people, or they can spread you," Lucas explained. "This is a very, very good football team."

According to Lucas, the Briar Jumpers will need to adjust to the environment, focus, and play Briar Jumper football.

"We need to get to Hazard and make sure we play within ourselves," Lucas stated. "Hazard is a tough place to play. It is loud and they can get after you a little bit. We need to keep our composure and we can't turn the ball over."

INJURY REPORT: Cam Austin had a little ankle injury, but has come back to play. Somerset has had some sickness going through their team, but should not be a factor.

Somerset (5-0) and Hazard (4-1) will kick off at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 4, at Hazard's Daniel Field.

North Laurel (#12 in 5A) at Southwestern

LAST WEEK: As the old saying goes 'Time can heal all wounds', and for the Southwestern High School football team that historic quip is very true in their circumstance.

After taking last Friday off with their Bye Week, the Warriors have now had two weeks to try to get some of their injured players healthy and back on the gridiron. And the Warriors' newfound healthier team couldn't have come at a better time, as Southwestern now heads into their district schedule.

"Having a couple of weeks off has helped with some of our injuries and we have been able to get a few guys healthy," stated Warriors' first-year coach Jason Foley.

"Maison Hibbard looks to be coming back to play at wide receive and defensive back," Foley stated. "Connor Crisp is cleared, but we are still working with him and he is still a little stiff. Gideon Brainard has healed up and looking better."

"We got Tanner Wright eligible to play, which we haven't seen him play this year," Foley added. "He will make a big impact at strong safety and in the backfield."

"Rowan Pennington has come back from an ankle sprain," Foley said. "We will have four or five new faces that we are excited to have back, which we haven't had in quite awhile."

"We wanted to get healthy which we did," Foley continued. "We went back to base fundamentals - base tackling and blocking. Sometimes you worry about how having two weeks off from competition will affect your team. But I feel confident we will be able to come out and get back into the game mode."

THIS WEEK: The good news is the Warriors will play their first district game at home at the Reservation, the bad news in they face a tough North Laurel team - that has won four of their last five games.

North Laurel is a run-heavy offense with four rushers combing for nearly 1,500 yards in six games. Grant Woods (66.3 rushing yards per game), Dalton Sizemore (63.8 rushing yards per game), Konner Robinson (59.2 rushing yards per game), and Jacob Bowman (69.0 rushing yards per game) will make up the bulk of the Jaguars' offense.

"North Laurel has a strong backfield and that is the strength of their team," Foley explained. "They get off the football really well off the front and their backs are really hard-hitting backs. They run hard and they don't do a lot of dancing, they just try to go north and south. That will be the challenge for our defense to try and limit their rushing attack."

"North does a lot of two and three back sets and they have situational formations they use on third and fourth downs," Foley explained. "They just try to rotate their backs and get them all in different formations where they can utilize them all."

Foley is hoping that the energy of playing at the Reservation and the addition of several new Warrior faces will give Southwestern the edge they need to get their first district win of the season.

"We have to come out with some energy at home and take advantage of our home field," Foley said. "Getting our new faces out on the field will give us a boost, and it will give us a little more experience on the field than what we have had."

"We want to do what North Laurel wants to do to us," Foley stated. "We want to get our three or four backs going in Austin Barnes, Chase Doan, Gideon Brainard and Tanner Wright. You will see those four get a lot of carries. We want to establish the run to set up the pass."

INJURY REPORT: The two-week layoff has helped the Warriors get almost everyone healthy. Quarterback Chanler Crabtree is still listed as doubtful.

Southwestern (2-3) and North Laurel (4-2) will kick-off at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 4, at the Reservation.

South Laurel at

Pulaski County

(#9 in 5A)

LAST WEEK: In a narrow 21-18 win at Whitley County, the Pulaski County football team was tested in every way imaginable. First off, the game lasted nearly five hours after multiple lightning delays. Secondly, as the game when well past the midnight hour, the Maroons fought off a determined Colonels team and escaped with the big district road win.

"It was a huge win, because it was a district game," Pulaski County football coach Johnny Hines stated. "If you want to make the playoffs and be in good standing into the playoffs, you have got to do well within your district. We have always felt it is really hard to win the district if you lose that first game."

"I was proud of our team to work through a lot of adversity and craziness that was going on down there," Hines stated. "We are all creatures of routine, and we all have a certain way we go through pre-game and warm-ups, and then when it is time to play you are mentally and physically ready to play."

"(The lightning delays) affected both teams, and we had to wait and wait for the lightning delays before the game started," Hines explained. "It was very hard to deal with waiting to start the game past 9 o'clock and then we had another lightning delay in the middle of the game."

THIS WEEK: Now with a 1-0 district mark, the Maroons will host South Laurel in a effort to go to 2-0. Without a doubt, Pulaski County is on a roll winning their last five games in a row - as four of those wins came on the road.

And while the South Laurel has been 'up and down' this season, Hines sees the visiting Cardinals as a threat.

"South Laurel is a very impressive team," Hines vaunted. "I know Coach (Donnie) Burdine said, before the season started, that this was the most talented team he has ever had since he had been there. They are extremely big up front. Their O-line and D-line are much larger than our kids, and they got great skilled players on the perimeter that can run."

Jordan Ramey ,who is averaging 164 rushing yards per game, has been their go-to guy this season in their running attack.

"Defensively we got to do a good job of keeping them from sustaining drives," Hines warned. "We got to turn them over and keep them from converting on third-and-long, and force punts and even turnovers. Offensively, we had got to convert. We have done a poor job in the red zone in the first few games, and we have had many drives end in the red zone."

INJURY REPORT: Grant Oakes, who went out with a knee injury in the Madison Southern game, is still rehabbing and is doubtful this week. Trey Price is still out rehabbing, with no time table for his return. Evan Mercer has an ankle sprain and is questionable.

Pulaski County (5-1) and South Laurel (2-4) will kick-off at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 4, at Maroons Stadium.

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

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