PHELPS, Ky. – A rivalry is about more than the record. A rivalry encompasses time; it chronicles the ups and downs of teams and creates memories that always come back around.
One rivalry will end Friday night as one team will disappear into the system after this year. Phelps and South Floyd has been going on since the coal fields were filled with single A teams. Back when mullets and acid wash a thing, jerseys were plain, and helmets were more of an inconvenience two schools met at either the field between the hills or on the creek bank for a district rivalry game. These two teams will meet for the last time Friday night as South Floyd will enter into consolidation next year with Allen Central.
And then there were two; next year Phelps and Jenkins will be the only true Class-A teams left among the giants of consolidation. Both teams are tucked into the corners of Pike County and have no clear cut future that they will join consolidation themselves, unless the state gets an allotment for highway funding. Of course Pikeville is also Class-A but with the Independent designation they seem to be distanced from the teams that remind us of a time forgotten.
Going back 18 years the Raiders of South Floyd own the series with 12 wins versus the Hornets six wins. You have to go back to 2009 to find the last game where the Hornets bested the Raiders. For six years the Raiders have owned the series and have won by multiple scores in all but one game; which was 2011 with a final score of 20-14.
Hornets head coach David Jones said, “Regardless of either teams record we know a rivalry game is one that both team go all in on. It’s a game you save everything for, and I know for a fact we will get their best game. Our boys will be bringing their A-game as well. This is a special game for our boys and fans and I know it will be filled with emotion.”
This year the tables have turned and the Hornets hold the gambler’s edge. The Raiders and Hornets have faced two mutual teams this season; Jenkins and Allen Central. South Floyd lost both match ups but the Hornets only lost one.
The Hornets met Allen Central in the season opener and lost, but they managed to hold a good Allen Central team to only 28 points while adding eight points of their own. South Floyd lost the game to Allen Central with a final score of 50-0.
In the Hornets second win of the year they beat Jenkins 40-8, while South Floyd lost to Jenkins 28-20 in overtime at home.
The Raiders depend upon a freshman QB named Brady Jones. Jones has senior wide receiver Brantley Johnson at his disposal and will hand the ball off to sophomore duo Elijah Cotton and Austin Akers out of the backfield. Akers is also a stout defensive man in the middle that the Hornets will need to adjust for.
The Hornets are fresh off of a loss to No. 15 Sherman out of W.Va. The Hornets lost to a good team but had plenty of mistakes that coach Jones feels was unnecessary. Jones said, “We have had a closed practice all week and the practices have been tough on the boys because of last week’s play. We had to get our boys out of a mindset and back on track, they needed to be humbled, and that’s what we have been doing all week. Our main goal at the moment is to finish third in the district since we are not playing Pikeville and hazard.”
The Hornets have certainly improved over the course of the season despite losing Peyton Rife to injury. Phelps and South Floyd will kick off at 7:30 p.m. this Friday at Marty Casey Stadium in Phelps.
(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.)