GOODY, Ky. – As usual, the Belfry Pirates fans are geared up and excited as another football season starts this week.
The Pirate faithful are ready to tailgate as their team will play host to Somerset Briar Jumpers Friday night as part of the annual Pike County Bowl at CAM Stadium.
Coach Philip Haywood has built the Pirates into perennial state championship contenders.
The Pirates return several skill players from last year, including senior signal caller Sani Warren. Running backs Trinity Carr, Austin Hatfield and Justin Johnson will share carries in Belfry’s potent running attack. Davontae Dari and Xondre Willis could also see action in the Pirates backfield.
Junior Keaton Taylor will be one of the receivers, along with senior Cameron Johnson.
Meanwhile, Somerset was clobbered by Pulaski County 41-13 last week.
The Briar Jumpers will still hurdle into Haywood Field and give Belfry their best shot.
“They are always a very athletic team,” Haywood said of Somerset. He hasn’t seen them play, but the two teams did trade films. So he knows that the Briar Jumpers have some outstanding skill players.
“They have a wide receiver that was in the state finals in the 100 meter,” Haywood said. “They have a tailback that is just a step behind him. So they have some speed.”
“When you have a young defense, that is always a concern,” he added. “You don’t want to give up the big plays.”
Haywood said the Somerset quarterback is someone who is proficient at both throwing the football and running the pigskin.
Belfry has had to replace five starters on the offensive line. The only returner is senior center Macky Francis. The two guards, two tackles and tight end will all be new starters.
The Pirates also lost several key starters on the defensive side of the football.
Haywood said his team was able to work a few things in scrimmage sessions the last couple of weekends.
Haywood may be using some freshmen this season, something that the Pirates have not normally done in the past. However, there are several 9th graders who played on the state middle school championship team last season at BMS that could contribute to the varsity squad right away.
Haywood said he expects to use several players on both sides of the ball. Some of his skill players on offense will also be playing on defense. “They will need some rest,” Haywood said. “We will need to develop some depth.”
But, he still says the team is a work in progress.
When asked if his team ironed out the wrinkles in the scrimmage games, Haywood answered, “We may have smoothed them out, but we have not ironed them out. We need to get more physical and we need to get quicker.”
“We need to get better with our fundamentals,” Haywood said. “We want to improve every day and that is our goal. But, we still have a long way to go.”