Who: Pulaski County (0-0) at Belfry (0-0)
Kickoff: Friday, September 11, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Philip Haywood Field, C.A.M. Stadium, Belfry.
Coaches: Pulaski County, John L. Hines. Belfry, Philip Haywood.
Notes: The season will kickoff and Belfry will open with new turf.
The Pirates are also the reigning Class 3A state champion.
Pulaski County is usually one of the Class 5A powers.
It will be a tough test for the Pirates to open the season against a Class 5A power.
Belfry will have to replace a lot of experience from last season.
The Pirates lost it’s entire defensive line, some linebackers and members of the secondary.
The offense lost some skill players, but return more players than the defensive side of things.
A lot of questions will have to be answered for the Pirates.
But Belfry does return quarterback Brett Coleman and running back Isaac Dixon.
Dixon is one of the most talented running backs in the state and he will probably get plenty of touches against a tough Pulaski County team.
The Maroons return starting quarterback Drew Polston.
As a sophomore last season, Polston was 177 for 248 passing with 1,944 yards and 18 TDs with five interceptions. He was second on the team in rushing with 494 yards and two TDs.
Leading rusher Tristan Cox will return for the Maroons for his senior season. Last year, he led the team in rushing with 509 rushing yards and eight TDs.
Last season, Pulaski County was slightly more of a passing team than a running team. The Maroons threw for 2,330 yards on the season and rushed for 1,966 yards.
Pulaski County was eliminated from the first round of the Class 5A playoffs by Southwestern last season. That is uncharacteristic for the Maroons.
Belfry coach Philip Haywood and the Pirates sent out this press release pertaining to ticket information.
All seating will be general admission. Seating will be every other row. Families, couples, or those traveling together may sit in a group. Otherwise, there must be 6feet between fans.
Everyone must wear a mask.
There is a limited number of tickets based on the size of our stadium.
There will be no reserved seating.
Everyone must have a ticket to enter the stadium. All tickets will be presale as follows:
Participant tickets (players, cheerleaders, band) must be picked up on Tuesday Sept 8 or Wednesday Sept 9. Participants must pick up tickets.
Student tickets must be picked up on Tuesday, Sept 8 or Wednesday, Sept 9.
100 student tickets will be available. Student must pick up ticket.
Reserved season ticket holders may pick up their tickets on Tuesday, Sept 8 or Wednesday, Sept. 9.
There will be no reserved seats.
The remainder of the tickets will go on sale Thursday, September 10 at 8:00 AM and will remain on sale through Friday September 11 until 12 PM. First come, first serve.
Note: Any participant, student, or reserved season ticket holder who does not get their tickets on the days assigned will have their tickets placed on sale Thursday, September 10.
No types of passes will be accepted.
Due to CDC guidelines, we will not be able to get everyone into the stadium, but we are doing everything we can to accommodate as many people as possible. We ask for your patience and understanding as we navigate through these difficult times.
Who 2 Watch: For Pulaski County, quarterback Drew Polston. For Belfry, Isaac Dixon.
Polston likes to throw the ball and will look to test the Belfry secondary.
Belfry will have to limit the quarterbacks passing downfield and limit big plays through the air.
Dixon is as talented as any running back in the state.
He will have to set the tone for the Pirates, especially early on.
Look for him to get the ball often.
He is coming off a 200 plus rushing performance in the state championship game and is looking to continue that in the opening game this year.
Pineville at East Ridge
Who: Pineville (0-0) at East Ridge (0-0)
Kickoff: Friday, September 11
Location: Warrior Field, Lick Creek.
Coaches: Pineville, Randy Frazier. East Ridge, Ben Runyon.
Notes: Last season Pineville picked up a 49-6 win over East Ridge.
The Mountain Lions lost their top rusher in Colby Frazier, but return quarterback Reece Capps and second leading rusher Devon Morris.
Capps was 31 for 65 passing for 466 yards and three TDs with five interceptions. He added 192 rushing yards and five TDs on 20 carries.
Morris rushed for 1,264 yards and 14 TDs on 129 carries during his sophomore season.
East Ridge was extremely young and inexperienced last season.
The Warriors started the season 0-9, but did win their final game of the season.
East Ridge returns starting quarterback Zack Mason. Mason was injured and didn’t get to play at all for the Warriors last season.
That set East Ridge behind.
The Warriors used a plethora of running backs and East Ridge will use quite a few backs to carry the load this year as well, but Isiah Adkins will get an opportunity to step up and be the feature back.
He’ll have Jeremy Taylor at fullback blocking for him.
Taylor was also the Warriors’ top returning tacker last season.
Add Taylor with Jo Jo Ratliff on defense and the Warriors have two talented leaders on the defensive side of the ball.
East Ridge wants to prove it can compete this year.
Look for the Warriors to come out and be more physical than last season.
Who 2 Watch: For East Ridge, watch Adkins.
Ratliff and Taylor will be solid on defense, but Adkins will get his time to shine on offense this season.
If he can step up and be a playmaker and help the chains keep moving.
Look for that help East Ridge in all facets of the game.
It will open up passes for Mason and it will also allow the defense to stay rested.
Adkins has a lot of talent and athleticism.
He will get his chance to step up and be a leader for the East Ridge offense.
Jackson County at Shelby Valley
Who: Jackson County (0-0) at Shelby Valley (0-0)
Kickoff: Friday, September 11, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Johnson Brothers Athletic Complex, Robinson Creek.
Coaches: Jackson County, John Hallock. Shelby Valley, Anthony Hampton.
Notes: Shelby Valley was originally scheduled to open the season against Knott Central.
That changed over the weekend as the Wildcats found a replacement in Jackson County.
The Generals finished 2019 with a 2-8 record and missed the Class 3A playoffs.
Jackson County returns quarterback Nick Baldwin for his senior season.
Baldwin finished the season going 75 for 183 passing for 966 yards and 15 TDs with six interceptions. He added 158 yards rushing on 46 carries.
The Generals also return running back Shawn Browning for his senior season. Browning finished last season with 519 rushing yards and seven TDs on 70 carries.
The Generals also bring back senior wide receivers Blake Allen and Dawson Barrett. Allen had 29 catches for 364 yards and five TDs, while Parrett had 17 receptions for 303 yards and five TDs.
Browning was also the Generals top defensive player last season. He led the team with 101 total tackles and one sack.
Baldwin led the team in interceptions las season with five. Allen had two and returned one for a TD.
Shelby Valley will be a new look team this season.
The Wildcats lost a lot of talented seniors.
Quarterback Dalton Meade graduated. He was one of the top athletes in the mountains and led Shelby Valley on both sides of the ball last season.
Lineman Peyton Blackburn also graduated.
That makes way for freshman quarterback Russ Osborne to step into the starting spot.
Osborne is a talented player and ranked as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation at his position.
He will now have to make the transition from middle school to high school for the Wildcats.
He will have several lineman return to block for him including Michael Compton.
Compton will now get the attention that Blackburn used to get.
The Wildcats will also return senior Jordan Little. Little is one of the top players on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats. He will have to step up and be a senior leader.
Also in the backfield, the Wildcats return plenty of speed, talent and elusiveness with Jayden Newsome and Ethan Bentley.
Who 2 Watch: For Shelby Valley, Jayden Newsome.
Newsome was the team’s second leading rusher last season.
He rushed for 1,114 yards and seven TDs.
He will see an increase in carries since Meade has departed.
Look for Newsome, Bentley and Little to all get carries to take pressure off of the freshman QB Osborne.
But also look for Osborne to throw the ball a bit more than Shelby Valley did last year and if the backfield and the line are dominating the ball, look for Osborne to have some passing opportunities.
Martin County at Phelps
Who: Martin County (0-0) at Phelps (0-0)
Kickoff: Friday, September 11, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Gaino Stiltner Field, Marty Casey Stadium, Phelps.
Coaches: Martin County, Josh Muncy. Phelps, Andrew West.
Notes: Martin County changed its school name from Sheldon Clark last season and the Cardinals saw a dramatic improvement from coach Muncy’s first two seasons as head coach. Muncy won two games in his first and second season as head coach and then last season, he helped Martin County finish with a 7-4 record and make the Class 2A playoffs.
The Cardinals did graduate staring quarterback Drake Muncy, though.
Leading rusher Logan Proctor returns this season for the Cardinals. Proctor finished last season with 873 yards and 11 TDs on 136 carries.
Second leading rusher Kolby Sparks also returns for the Cardinals. Sparks rushed for 558 yards and seven TDs on 80 carries.
Proctor returns as the top Cardinal on defense. He was second on the team in tackles last season with 78 total tackles.
Phelps’ offense will undergo a new look this season.
Standout Dom Francis will slide to the quarterback position after being one of the top running backs in the mountains.
Francis will run the ball a lot, but will also have options to keep it, hand off or throw the ball.
Coach West is putting the decision making to his top player and putting the ball in his top players’ hands more.
The Hornets also return Tyrell Hollis at running back to compliment Francis.
The duo was one of the top one-two punches around last season.
Phelps will try and get the season started off right with a big home win over Martin County.
Who 2 Watch: For Phelps, all eyes will be on Francis, but watch Hollis and the offensive line.
The offensive line will determine what kind of holes and running space Francis will have.
Francis will also have to rely on Hollis to step up and make some big plays, which he’s more than capable of making.
If the Hornets want to open the season with a win, Francis will have to have help and the offensive line and Hollis will play a big role in that.
Pike Central at Perry Central
Who: Pike Central (0-0) at Perry Central (0-0)
Kickoff: Friday, September 11, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Commodore Field, Hazard.
Coaches: Pike Central, Eric Ratliff. Perry Central, Mark Dixon.
Notes: Last season, Pike Central picked up a 44-28 win over Perry Central.
Things will look different for both teams, though.
Pike Central graduated starting quarterback Tyler Hunt and the school’s all-time leading tackler in Nate Roberts.
Hazard will be under the direction of new coach Mark Dixon.
Dixon is a legend in the mountains.
He won a Class A state title and took Hazard to numerous Class A state title appearances in his tenure.
Dixon has a new challenge as he tries to bring Perry Central back to being one of the top programs in the mountains.
Last season, Pike Central freshman running back set the tone for the Hawks rushing for 155 yards on 21 carries. That set up Noah Iricks rushing for three TDs on six carries.
Perry Central had all of its success against the Hawks through the air as quarterback Chanse McKenzie was 13 for 19 passing for 278 yards and three TDs.
The Commodores only rushed for seven total yards against the Hawks.
Look for that rushing total to change under Dixon. Dixon’s teams have been known to be prolific through both the air and ground attacks, but the offensive line is always key for his teams.
Both teams return a number of talented players, so it should be an interesting matchup.
Who 2 Watch: For Pike Central, Matt Anderson. For Perry Central, Chanse McKenzie.
Anderson had an outstanding freshman season for the Hawks.
He rushed for 1,385 yards and 14 TDs as a freshman.
Anderson is a big power back with surprising speed.
That speed allows him to break some big runs after powering past the defensive line.
He is hard to bring down for some linebackers and anyone in the secondary once he gets in the second level.
Anderson is going to be key for the Hawks offense.
Pike Central is looking to settle on a new quarterback and without experience under center, look for coach Eric Ratliff to rely on Anderson early and often.
If Anderson can move the chains and keep the offense on the field, it will help the other playmakers around him settle in.
Anderson needs to have a big game if the Hawks want to escape with the win.
For Perry Central, McKenzie had a good season before injuries got to him.
He only played in six games last season, but was 78 for 122 passing for 998 yards and eight TDs with five interceptions.
McKenzie will have to have some help from the running game.
The Commodores lost several talented running backs from last season, but return Kobee Eldridge.
Eldridge showed the ability to catch and the run the ball.
McKenzie will have to make his throws and will have top receiver Cade Miller back.
If he can get the offense going and connect with his receivers, look for that to open the Commodore run game.
If the Commodores want to pick up a big season opening win, McKenzie will have to step up and deliver.
Pikeville at Raceland
Who: Pikeville (0-0) at Raceland (0-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, September 12, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Ram Stadium, Raceland.
Coaches: Pikeville, Chris McNamee. Raceland, Michael Salmons.
Notes: Pikeville is the defending Class A state champions.
If you look back to 2017 in the Class A state semifinals, a young Pikeville team grew up, but fell short to Raceland 17-14.
After that, Pikeville has played in two straight state title games and won last season after coming up just short in 2018 to Beechwood.
The Panthers have beat Raceland twice since that 2017 state semifinal matchup.
Last season, Pikeville edged Raceland 12-6 early in the season.
The Rams used Paintsville’s defensive game plan and tried to make Pikeville beat them underneath in the passing game. Pikeville did enough to hold off the Rams. The two didn’t meet in the playoffs last season as the Rams were eliminated in the second round by district rival Paintsville.
Pikeville lost a lot of talent from last season’s squad, but the Panthers return a bevy of talent, though.
The Panthers have standout Isaac McNamee back at quarterback. McNamee is one of the top quarterbacks in the state regardless of class or age.
He is a special talent for the Panthers.
The Panther defense will reload with a lot of talent as well.
The biggest question mark early for Pikeville is the status of Carson Wright.
Wright is going to be a special two way talent.
He saw a lot of action at linebacker last season and will be one of the top linebackers this season.
He will be the top running back in the Pikeville offense as well.
The only question is his health.
He blew his knee out in the state semifinals last season against Holy Cross.
If he’s not 100 percent look for the Panthers to ease him back in the lineup, especially on offense. Wright should make a difference once he cements himself in the lineup, though.
Last season, Raceland was without starting quarterback Jacob Heighton when the Rams took on Pikeville.
Heighton finished the season 69 for 129 passing for 1,305 yards and 18 TDs with six interceptions in only eight games.
Heighton will return for his senior season this year.
The Rams lost their top two running backs, though.
Heighton is the top returning ball carrier for Raceland.
The Rams graduated 14 seniors from last year’s squad.
Both teams will be in similar situations replacing a lot of experience from last year.
Who 2 Watch: For Pikeville watch the offensive line.
The Panthers return a couple of guys up front.
But look for them to be key against Raceland.
With running back Carson Wright’s status in doubt, Raceland will be focused on slowing McNamee down.
The offensive line will have to step up and give him time to throw and also create running lanes for the other Panther running backs.
If the offensive line can give McNamee time, Pikeville could escape Raceland with a big road win to open the season.