GOODY, Ky. – There is an old adage in football – run the ball and throw when you want to, not when you have to.
That statement is a good example of the strong, balanced running attack of the Belfry Pirates. Once again the Bucs offense is rolling up big numbers.
Coach Philip Haywood and his staff have a bevy of running backs to choose from. Senior Josh Robinson, juniors Justin Johnson and Trinity Carr led the way, but there are some younger backs that can also contribute. They include sophomores Austin Hatfield, Keaton Taylor and Kaleb Edwards.
Throw in junior quarterback Sani Warren, who can also run the pigskin, and the Pirates are tough for opponents.
“We do have pretty good balance and we have more than just one set,” Haywood said. “We try to work them all in and we’ve been fortunate to have some success.”
“We’ve been a little disappointed because of our competitive level,” the Pirate coach added. “Other than Henry Clay, we haven’t been challenged as much as we would like – but it’s coming up.”
Thus, many of the backs have not seen much action in the second half due to the large leads Belfry has by halftime on many of its opponents.
At the midway point in the season, Johnson has 11 touchdowns and has rushed for 693 yards, Carr has close to 500 (497) yards rushing and five TDs and Robinson has rushed for 228 yards and a couple of scores. Austin Hatfield has 257 yards on the ground with three TDs and Taylor around 125 rushing yards with four touchdowns. Warren has only nine rush attempts for 75 yards and a TD and he has thrown for 161 yards a pair of scores.
Carr also kicks the extra points and is capable of booting field goals from at least 35 yards if the situation is ever needed. So he has scored a lot of the extra points for the Pirates.
Regardless of the statistics and the success, Haywood said there is always room for improvement. By watching game film he and his staff pick up a few things where the Pirates can fine tune the offense.
“The only way you get better is by running these plays over and over,” Haywood said. He said the large gains can quickly turn into a 3-yard loss if someone goes the wrong way or another player misses a block.
Most everyone knows that if not for the front line, the running backs would not have room to run the ball.
Haywood is pleased with the way his offensive line has come along. They include Joey Duty (5-11, 220 lb., jr.) Michael Barnes (6-4, 347, jr.), Antonio “Tuffy” Willis (5-8, 333 lb., sr.), Zach Taylor (6-0, 262 lb., sr.), James May (6-2, 219 lb., sr.), Derrick Jude (6-4, 277 lb., sr.) and others. Sophomore center Mackey Francis (5-11, 300 lb.) is seeing plenty of action action. Senior tight end Tony Messer (6-3, 232 lb.) is another big blocker up front, who can also catch passes when needed.
“The line is coming along, but we’ve had some injuries – nothing major,” Haywood said. “I don’t know if we have ever played the same line two weeks in a row. There are signs of improvement. We need to work on our physicality and make sure we are blocking the right people.”
“After every Friday night, we look at the film, and we see where someone isn’t blocking the right person. We may still gain yards, but we have room for improvement,” Haywood added. He knows down the road Belfry will play some tough competition, especially when they get into the playoffs, so they will need to be clicking on all cylinders to see the offense run as smoothly as it can.
Haywood said he is trying to develop some depth on the offensive line and that this will be crucial as the season progresses.