PHELPS, Ky. – The wait is almost over. For those who have been waiting months for the return of football season the beginning is closer and closer.
In the blue corner will be the Phelps Hornets and in the red corner will be the Sheldon Clark Cardinals; keep the hits above the waist and watch the rabbit punches.
The first high school game of the year will take place at the new Marty Casey Stadium in Phelps, Ky. This is significant in many ways and fans will finally get to hear those pads sing again. The high school football scene will officially begin.
This season, the first game will take place nearly a month before West Virginia schools begin and two weeks before other Kentucky schools begin. The Phelps Hornets dropped out of district play during the off-season and that was announced when former UK Wildcat, David Jones, was announced as the new head coach. Sheldon Clark also received a new head coach during the off-season. Chester McCoy took hold of the reigns of his team on Monday morning at the first practice.
Both teams are struggled to climb back up the mountain after years of adversity has stricken both programs. Both teams have a new outlook on this season and hopes are high for one or both teams to pull through in dramatic fashion with a complete turnaround season.
Phelps has struggled for a half decade due to construction on a new athletic complex. What started as a two-three year project turned into a six year nightmare. However, the Hornets have everything in place and eagerly await the season; Hornet fans will finally be able to watch a home game at home.
Sheldon Clark has struggled with participation numbers and head coaches willing to stay with the program. Attendance is low, and morale has been low.
The Cardinals fared better than the Hornets last season with a 3-8 record, they were mainly powered behind the footwork of Brandon butcher who ended his senior season last year. The Hornets went win-less last season with only 54 total points scored all season. Most home games were played at Johns Creek Middle School as construction wrapped up on the new field and complex.
In 2014 the Cardinals ended their 1-10 season with a loss to Magoffin County in the opening round of the playoffs with a 26-34 loss. In 2014, the Hornets 69-0 loss to Raceland, in the opening round of the playoffs was the end to a win-less season. 2013 is how far back you have to travel to find Phelps last recorded win which was against Allen Central on Oct. 11. 2013. Sheldon Clark went win-less in 2013 finishing with a loss to Breathitt County in the opening round of the playoffs.
These two teams have been through the wringer but one team will emerge on the track with a victory come Aug. 13 at Marty Casey Stadium.
Both teams have earned the reputation of a run first type of team but the Hornets are showing signs of experimenting with their speed under the direction of first year offensive coordinator Terrance Pruitt. Pruitt has made the short trip across the river from Matewan, W.Va. where the wing-t offense reigns supreme, Pruitt has stated he is excited to get the ball rolling getting the hornets into formation.
The tricky part of the game will be time. Both teams will step onto the field, suited up, just two weeks after being allowed to practice in full-pads. Full pad practice begins Aug. 1. in Ky.
The Hornets will experience a lot of new during this game. The lights will feel new, the grass will feel new, and the screams from off the field will be new. What the Hornets are hoping for is that they will be able to grab hold of the situation and begin a new tradition at Phelps – winning games.
The anticipation is growing by the minute. The progress of both teams will be periodically covered throughout the first weeks of practice.
(William plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] on on twitter @sidplaster.)