GOODY, Ky. – Pond Creek Nation must be feeling a little deja-vu at the moment with the way the Pirates have lined up in the post-season playoffs.
Just like in 2015 the Pirates met the same teams in a slightly different order but ended up facing Corbin in the semi-finals and own the game with a final score 42-14. The good news is the two teams are basically the same except for a few departed players. Corbin returned almost all of their skill position players and is boasting a good rotating offensive line. Belfry is in exactly the same boat.
With one more year of experience under everyone’s belt these two teams will meet, the only difference is this game will be played at Corbin.
Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:
Belfry has scored 524 points and allowed 128 to opposing offenses during this season. They have 4,086-yards rushing and 413 yards passing. Corbin has scored 510 points and only allowed 110 points to opposing offense. They have 2,043-yards rushing and 2,729-yards passing.
Belfry may seem to have the disadvantage when it comes to the passing game but out of Belfry’s 18 pass completions eight of those completions have scored. Corbin has scored 34 times on 182 completions.
Belfry has not allowed any team in the post season to get a good passing game going. Safeties Cameron Catron, Avery Browning has played extremely well on pass coverage. Corners Devin Varney and Austin Woolum have been able to play tight pass coverage and linebackers Austin fields, Derek Wellman have been solid from the fixed linebacker position. Austin Hall is the loose linebacker who floats to the strong side and he has been able to cut off inside routes on all three playoff teams so far.
The Pirates defensive line does not give QB’s time let routes develop as Ray Horton, Cole Bentley, Kalob Whitt, and defensive end Chase Dove have been creating extreme pressure in opposing backfields the last three games.
The Red Hounds offensive line is where Corbin puts most of their success. They have rotating group of 7-8 players that is assembled to meet certain match-ups. This will be their toughest matchup of the year.
Belfry head coach Phillip Haywood said, “We have had a good week of practice. the kids have good focus and it seems to be getting better everyday. It has been a very normal week for us, we come out here and practice like we always do and prepare like its any other week. But you can tell that the kids know how important this game is.”
This year’s Corbin team is nothing to take lightly though. Corbin lost one game in the regular season and that was a one point loss to Class-AA Mayfield.
Haywood said, “This is the same team we faced last year but they are playing like they are a year better. They got everyone back and have had a year to grow. They are throwing more this year and they have excellent offensive schemes. They are well coached and you can tell that on film. They are just a really sound football team this year. One thing is for sure; in order for us to beat them, we are going to have to really beat them. They don’t have many weaknesses to focus on and this will be a tough ball game.”
During the regular season the Red Hounds got wins over Louisville Central, one of the other final four teams, with a score of 20-14, and a win over Casey County 35-7 who was their opponent last week in round three.
Throughout the playoff season the Red Hounds have bested Knott County Central, Bell County and Casey County. The regular season win over Central gives big cause for concern that Corbin is the real deal this year. The other matchup between Central and Elizabethtown give Pirates fans a hop that there could be a re-match of the 2014 championship game where Belfry beat Central 14-7.
“The key to winning this game will be winning the game up front by our offensive and defensive linemen. They have a very efficient line, they aren’t big but they execute really well and get after you,” said coach Haywood.
The Pirates offense has taken a back seat as of late, or has been helped greatly by the Pirates ability to capitalize on special teams mistakes. The Pirates have had a punt return for a touchdown in all three playoff games and if they aren’t able to score they are setting the pirate offense up with minimal work to do. Catron has been the man for Belfry’s punt return team but as Russell learned last week it’s not safe to kick the ball to Browning either.
The Pirates defense and special teams has made the offensive workload very minimal through the last three games but of course there is no need to forget that Belfry still has a punishing rushing attack led in the backfield by either Andrew Fletcher or Wellman. Taveon Hunter and Catron are the two speed backs and QB Noah Corbett gets plenty of work in the read option offense.
If the Red Hounds want to stop Belfry they will not only need a stout defense but they need to play great on all levels.
Belfry will be losing home field advantage this game and traveling to Corbin. Coach Haywood said, “I don’t think playing on the road will affect us, we have played some big teams on the road this season and we know how to play on the road. It may be easier for them playing at home but I don’t think it will affect us any.”
The game is scheduled to begin at Corbin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
(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.)