WILLIAMSON — Football fans got a taste of good medicine over the weekend as some Ky teams kicked off their regular season and the W. Va. teams completed their pre-season scrimmages.
The first real look at the Phelps Hornets new and improved football program offered a lot of hope heading into the season. Sure, it was a loss but the Hornets hung in there with a tough Allen Central team who had returned their entire backfield. The Rebels are on a mission to have the best season they can with consolidation looming in the future. Phelps however, showed fans that they are set out for a new season this year.
At first glance the Hornets looked tough, they slightly fell apart during the second quarter and allowed the Rebels to score 20-points. Through the rest of the game they stayed with the Rebels holding their own against talented runners like Jesse Brown and Steven Howard. Coach Jones was able to gauge how his team would respond to adversity however, and Jones see’s that as a plus. The Hornets did not back down and they did not give up.
PROS: The Hornets found out that hitting still hurts, but they also found out they can do some of the hurting themselves. During the second half the coaching staff made a big move by switching Ronald Prater from defensive-end to middle linebacker and the Rebels began to work the outside more. Prater had 17 tackles (with assists included) and the Hornets were able to rally around this type of persistence. Instead of watching the team take their frustrations out on an unsuspecting water cooler on the sideline, like last season, they turned that anger into fuel on the field and held a decent Allen Central squad to two scoreless quarters.
CONS: The basic fundamentals are still not at a high level. Wrapping up on tackles, fumbles, field awareness, and having the assigned players ready at the snap were still problems that were not missed by on-lookers. The Hornets were still running straight up with the football allowing the Rebel defense to take a “hit em’ high, hit em’ low,” attitude. The Hornets had a few young players who may have looked good on the offensive side of the ball during practice but still were not comfortable when the actual hitting was needed on defense.
LOOKING FORWARD: Coach Jones and the Hornets will have nine more games to get these kinks straightened out and set a certain standard for the younger players stepping up. The schedule shows at least 5-6 winnable games at the Hornets level of play now. This week the Hornets will take on East Ridge once again in the first game of the Pike County Bowl on Friday. Now that the Hornets have gotten a good pop in the mouth they realize they are not made out of glass and can go in to this game leaving the jitters in the locker room. Soon enough the goal will no longer be to just survive but to excel.
Mingo Central had a good showing on Saturday at the Cardinal Conference Grid-O-Rama held at Scott High School. The Miners faced off against Cardinal Conference newbie Logan and were not disappointed. The Miners won the scrimmage 36-14 but saw they have a lot of cleaning to do. The Miners have the basic package to do some major damage this year however, the players are still getting adjusted to the system again.
The Miners are set on greatness during the 2016 campaign and halfway just will not do it for this team.
Assistant Coach Joey fields said about the scrimmage, ” We have a long way to go, we are going to have to clean up the little things. Our guys have to realize every little detail on every little play is important. Our effort was outstanding but our mentality just wasn’t there. Our junior varsity players all did really well though.”
PROS: The Miners have all the right tools in all the right places. Jeremy Dillon is doing outstanding from the QB position. The running backs, Joey Hunt and Caleb Lester, are running over, under, and through defenses and the line is a solid wall. The defensive players like Daniel Buchanan have the size and skill to take away big portions of opposing teams game plans. The Miners will also have their own game plan that left most teams in the dust last season and they have multi-talented players to make it dangerous.
CONS: The Miners are not quit there mentally and have some fine tuning to do before the first game against Wyoming East. The Miners have all the talent in the world which is difficult at times to wrangle together into a machine with one solid purpose. The Miners want to be the 2016 Class-AA Champions, but attention to detail is one of the things that they will need to achieve that. Now that Point Pleasant and Winnfield have dropped down to Class-AA the Miners will have to be meticulous in a growing, talented field of teams to become the top dog.
LOOKING FORWARD: The Miners may not have been pleased with their victory over Logan but it was still a victory. The miners still have two weeks of practice to work on things and fine tune the system. A scrimmage is only a first look and teams often evolve and adapt as the season progresses, but if the Miners want to make the statement that they are the next champion then everyone has to be on board and it must be done together.
A few other scores from around the area.
Pike Central -20
Betsy Layne-14 (overtime)
McCreary Central -55
Pikeville -47 (Defending Class-A Champs)
(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.)