GOODY, Ky. – The 2015 Belfry Pirate football team will be heading to Western Kentucky University this weekend to face Lexington Catholic in the Class 3A KHSAA Championship game to be played on Sunday afternoon.
The Pirates are trying to cap off their 2015 season with another championship title banner to bring back to eastern Kentucky. The BHS Pirates have been almost unstoppable this season and have the possibility to gain their third state championship in a row. The Bucs defeated Bath County in the opening round of the playoffs with a final score of 62-0, and then they beat Russell in the second round by a score of 42-12. Lawrence County fell to the Pirates in the third round by a score of 52-12, and in the semi-final round of the playoffs the Pirates defeated Corbin by a score of 42-14. It speaks well of the Pirates defense that not one team has scored more than twice against the defense throughout the playoffs.
The game against Lexington Catholic is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be played on Sunday because WKU defeated Marshall and earned the right to host the Conference USA Championship game on Saturday, Dec. 5. This forced the Russell Athletic/KHSAA Gridiron Bowl to schedule their events around the collegiate football schedule. The Pikeville game against Beechwood was moved to Thursday at 7:00 p.m. The Johnson Central game against South Warren was also moved to Sunday and will be played following the Belfry and Lexington Catholic game.
The Pirates have the chance to join an elite group of athletes throughout the state. In Class 3A history there have only been three teams to appear in and win three championship games in a row in Class 3A. Central of Louisville won three championships in a row from 2010-2012 and Boyle County won three in a row back from 2001-2003. Before that Highlands won three in a row from 1998-2000. Should the Pirates win they will join an elite group of teams who have achieved greatness. It can also be noted that Belfry was the losing team all three years that Central won the state championship. This will be the Pirates sixth championship game appearance in six years. Lexington Catholic has not appeared in a championship game since 2005 back when Belfry was in the Class 2A classification.
To understand were Belfry is, you have to understand where they have been. Throughout the 2015 season the Pirates have won every game except for one. Cabell Midland handed the Pirates their first loss of the season on Oct, 2. with a final score of 49-7. The closest game the Pirates had all season was against Lawrence County during the regular season with a final score of 27-23, the Pirates beat Lawrence County then and knocked them out of the playoffs in the third round by a lot more than a four point difference.
The Pirates have scored a total of 530 points this season while only allowing a total of 188 points scored against them. The Pirate defense has held opposing teams to 1,391-yards rushing against them and 1,575-yards passing against them. The Pirate defense is made up of no individual player, the defense plays as a team and are hard hitters. The Pirate defense has over 11 players with over 40 total tackles during the season. Middle linebacker Nate Sanger leads the team in tackles with a total of 88. The defensive secondary for the Pirates back up an intimidating defensive line, there are eight players in the secondary that are among the top tacklers of the team.
On the defensive line there are two stand-out individuals who have made a big impact all year; junior all-state linemen Ray Horton and Cole Bentley have been big for the Pirate defense all season. Bentley and Horton are among the top tacklers in the Pirate defense but provide the most help by applying pressure to the opposing team’s backfield.
In the secondary, Devin Varney has made the biggest impact after recording six interceptions and gaining 134-yards after the catch while running two interceptions back for touchdowns. T.J. Dotson also has returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Offensively the Pirates have nothing to hide; they are running team above anything else. Belfry Head Coach Phillip Haywood utilizes every rusher he has, and those rushers have produced good results during the 2015 season. With 3,898 total rushing yards during the season Belfry has five players who have accumulated the majority of the yards gained. Senior running back Xondre Willis is the only thousand yard rusher on the team, Willis had gained 1,108-yards rushing this season on 82 carries. Willis also leads the team in rushing touchdowns with 13 scored so far. Andrew Fletcher leads the team in carries with 108 and is right behind Willis in rushing touchdowns scored with 12.
The majority of the Pirates rushing attack is made up of Willis, Fletcher, Cameron Catron, Derek Wellman and Noah Corbett. Corbett is the Pirates quarterback; he has had few instances this season where the Pirate offense has been forced into passing situations.
Despite the lack of necessity for the passing game, Corbett has completed 11 passes this season for 400-yards. Corbett has thrown for seven passing touchdowns. The back-up quarterback Kevin Browning was thrown into the mix earlier in the season due to Corbett having to set out two games. Browning exceeded expectations during those two games and threw three touchdown passes and passed for a total of 116-yards.
The top three receivers for the Pirates are Catron, Willis and Austin Woolum. Willis has four receptions for 184-yards and four receiving touchdowns. Catron has caught five passes for 115-yards and Woolum has caught two passes for 144-yards. Woolum is also the teams place kicker, he has made 64 extra-points this season and kicked in five field goals. That could come in handy for the Pirates if you can remember the field goal he made back in 2013 to give Belfry the state championship title over Wayne County with a final score of 3-0.
Lexington Catholic has survived throughout the playoffs but not without a few tough games. In the opening round, Lexington Catholic beat Bardstown by a score of 55-13, in the second round they beat Garrard County by a score of 59-26. Then the matchups became tougher, long time Class 3A power house Central gave the Knights the closest game so far. Lexington Catholic barely won against Central with a final score of 14-13, then the Knights upset Elizabethtown 35-14 in the semi-final round. Now they meet the Pirates in the championship game.
The Knights finished the regular season with a record of 7-3, the most notable loss, for Pond Creek Nation, was against Johnson Central who Belfry beat in the last game of the regular season by a score of 41-0. The knights lost the game against Johnson Central earlier in the regular season by a final score of 42-28.
Lexington Catholic has a good offense that utilizes the pass, with 2,938 passing yards during the season the Knights will put the Pirate secondary to the test. The silver lining for the Pirates is that Lexington Catholic has allowed more rushing yards than they have gained. The Knights have rushed for 2,093-yards this season and allowed 2,798 yards rushed against them.
Lexington Catholic’s offense is led by quarterback Kirk Fagot. He has passed for 1,243-yards this season and thrown 16 touchdowns. The Knights also have two other players who have thrown multiple touchdowns which could cause confusion for the Pirate secondary. Andy Thompson has thrown 12 touchdowns and Legend Brumbaugh has tossed in seven touchdowns. Jaylen Jones is the Knights primary rusher with 1,010 rushing yards on 192 carries and has scored 13 rushing touchdowns. There are two primary receivers for the Knights offense, Joseph Ogbogu and Donovan Morris lead the team in receiving yards; Ogbogu has 1,186-yards and 14 touchdowns and Morris has 920-yards and 11 receiving touchdowns.
Jack Fagot leads the Knights on defense with 105 total tackles. Lexington Catholic has eight players with over 40 tackles on the season.
The Belfry Pirates will be traveling to Bowling Green on Saturday in order to be rested before the game. The Pirates will play the second game of the day on Sunday.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter at the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext.2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)