GOODY, Ky. - CAM Stadium should be rocking Friday night as the Belfry Pirates ranked No. 4 will entertain the undefeated Breathitt County Bobcats (12-0) ranked No. 2 in Class 3A.
The Pirates head into the game with a record of 10-2. The only blemishes they have on their record are regular season losses to Lexington Henry Clay and to Ashland Paul Blazer.
The Pirates are coming off a 48-6 win over Lawrence County in second round playoff action, while the Bobcats are coming off a 54-18 victory over Pike County Central.
“Obviously they’re undefeated and they are a very balanced team,” Belfry head coach Philip Haywood said. “They have a great quarterback and can run and throw. They’ve built their football team around him.”
The signal caller Haywood is referring to is Trent Richard. After 11 games he has thrown for 27 touchdowns and 2,054 yards. He has also rushed for 1,016 yards and 26 TDs, according to stats on the KHSAA web-site.
“They have four five receivers he can throw to and a couple of good running backs,” Haywood said of the Bobcats.
Some of those receivers that can catch Richard’s passes are James Blomberg, Wes Noble, Cory Shouse, Ryan Cox, Brayton Fugate and Jamie Watkins.
Belfry ran past Knott County Central in its first playoff game, while Breathitt easily defeated Sheldon Clark.
“They have a big offensive line,” Haywood said. “They are always real strong and always well coached. They mix it up well and make you defend the whole field. They have scored a ton of points.”
The Bobcats probably run the ball 60 percent of the time and throw it 40 percent, according to Haywood. So with their spread-type offense, they are balanced and can keep a defense on their toes.
“They’re one of those teams that spread you out and then will run the ball,” Haywood added. “They can throw the ball. They get in the shotgun – but they have developed into a good running team, but they do it out of the gun.”
“Defensively they are always real sound. They are tough – Breathitt has a good football team,” Haywood saidd. “We need to be physical and control the line of scrimmage. We obviously have to take away the big plays.”
Belfry has its usual potent running attack led by juniors Justin Johnson and Trinity Carr, along with senior Josh Robinson. Sophomores Keaton Taylor and Austin Hatfield give Belfry depth in the backfield. Both Carr and Johnson have over 900 yards rushing. Johnson has 19 touchdowns, 18 of those rushing, while Carr has 11 TDs, 10 of those rushing. Robinson has 14 touchdowns this season and is a threat running the ball or catching the swing pass and breaking it for long runs.
Junior quarterback Sani Warren has been solid all season long and his passing game has improved, but he is also a threat to run with the football.
Belfry’s offensive line has opened up huge seams for the backs this season. Mackey Francis, Antonio “Tuffy” Willis, Zach Taylor, James May, Derrick Jude and Joey Duty anchor the line. Tight end Tony Messer also helps block, but is also a threat to catch the ball and help move the chains. Cameron Johnson and Eli Huddle will be the main targets at their end positions.
Michael Barnes helps clog up the middle on the defensive side of the football. Payton Mullins and Madison Ghormley are the statistical leaders on defense.
The Pirates have also played well on special teams. “I’ve always though in the playoffs special teams are important,” Haywood said. “Our kicking game has been sound the last few games. We’ve improved that a lot. Hopefully we can continue to do that.”
Keilan Carr and his brother Trinity Carr are both good at booting the extra points. They are also capable of kicking field goals.
The winner of Friday’s game will advance to the Kentucky state semi-finals next Friday. The winner of the Belfry-Breathitt game will take on the winner of the Bourbon County-Mason County game.
If Belfry wins, they will host that game on Haywood Field the day after Thanksgiving on November 23.