PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Tonight the Belfry Pirates will travel to Pikeville to face the defending Class-A state champion Panthers.
Last year the Pirates won the contest by a score of 34-8. In 2014 the Panthers won the game by a score of 29-20. These two teams became the personification of East Kentucky football last year as they both brought home state championship titles. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. they will square off again.
Last season the Pirates were able to limit the Panthers to 200-yards of total offense. The Pirates relied solely on the run game and piled up 256-yards rushing. The biggest difference was scoring as three different Pirates made it into the end zone, for the Panthers it was only leading rusher Daric Pugh.
Pugh has graduated now, and so has leading receiver from the 2015 season Anthony Vanderbeck. The returning players are quarterback Wyatt Battalie and leading tackler Blake Charles.
The Pirates lost notable running back Xondre Willis to Graduation as well as defensive stars Nate Sanger and T.J. Dotson. Returning for the Pirates is one fierce offense and an above par defense.
Both teams have been successful during the 2016 season. Belfry is undefeated with a record of 3-0 while the Panthers have a record of 3-1. The Panthers only loss came at the hands of Class-A powerhouse Paintsville with a final score of 40-28.
After the loss to Paintsville the Panthers returned to action to win against Fairview 61-12. The Panthers have been putting up big numbers so far this season with 672-yards rushing and 960-yards passing through four games.
The Pirates have broken the 1,000-yard rushing barrier through three games already. The Pirates have six rushers with over a 100-yards rushing and Derek Wellman leads the team with four rushing TD’s.
The Panthers have a good offense that is led by Battalie and two rushers with over 200-yards rushing. Belfry’s defense will be the key to victory this week as the offense has shown no signs of slowing down. Another good note for the offense is that fullback Andrew Fletcher is back in the lineup after sustaining a shoulder injury in the first game of the season.
Pond Creek Nation will be heading to Hambley Athletic Complex tonight to watch the Pirates continue on their quest for a fourth state championship.
(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.)