GOODY,Ky. – The election is over and now it’s time to get back to the business of high school football.
For the Belfry Pirates; business is good.
Belfry will enter the second round of the KHSAA playoffs against Fleming County this Friday night. The Pirates have home field advantage and earned the opportunity after a 50-0 win over Bath County last Friday. Fleming County earned the trip to round two after a 29-22 win over Lawrence County.
Fleming County will be the first game for the Pirates against a top ten team in the playoffs. There were five other top ten teams in the Pirate’s bracket heading into round one. All of the other top ten teams advanced through round one.
Belfry head coach Phillip Haywood said, “I’m not sure that the bracket is tougher this year because we are seeing the same teams we saw last year but, those teams are a year older and they have improved. We don’t worry about what the playoff picture looks like, we like to keep the team and game plan focused on the week at hand. We want the players to stay focused on our next opponent and focus on improving from last game and throughout the season I feel we have done that well.”
There were three notable upsets during the first round; No. 14 Boyle County upset No. 9 Moore 59-12, No. 26 Pike County Central upset No. 12 West Carter 43-34, and No.27 Bell County upset No.23 Breathitt County 58-30. All other games had the favorites advance.
Should the Pirates advance, they will likely face top ten teams with the exception of Bardstown, who leads in the other bracket. Belfry is in the tougher of the two brackets; statistically.
The Pirates will face a team in Fleming County that finished 7-3 with losses to Greenup County, No.1 Russell, and East Carter. The Fleming County Panthers defeated Lawrence County, a team the Pirates beat 49-0, but allowed 280-yards rushing from the Bulldogs.
“They are a very versatile team. They have good athletes in every position. They have a good quarterback who can pull the trigger and get the ball to his receivers, they have a good running game and are what I like to call a dangerous team that can beat you from any spot on the field,” said Coach Haywood.
The Panthers defense has allowed 1,265-yards this season to opposing backfields but has limited opposing passing attacks to only 655-yards. The Panthers have allowed opposing teams to score 150 points while accumulating 381 points.
Haywood said, “They have played good defense all year, with the caliber of athletes they have they can do well at any position on the field.”
The Panthers offense is slightly pass heavy with QB Josh Crump attempting 280 passes this season. Crump has completed 142 of his passing attempts for 2,319-yards with 26 TDs but has also thrown 13 interceptions. Crump has one receiver he favors; Zac Alexander, who leads the team with 49 receptions for 824-yards and seven TDs. Although, the Panthers offense spreads the ball around with screens allowing Crump to utilize seven different receiving options.
The Pirates are confident they will be ready for the Panthers when they roll into CAM Stadium this Friday. “We haven’t added anything special to our game plan this week; we are just focusing continuity and playing well together as a team. We have had a really good week at practice and we are focused,” said Coach Haywood.
Statistically the Pirates have the upper hand heading into the game. Belfry has scored 463 points this season against opposing defenses and has only given up 128 points to opposing offenses. Belfry may punch in the time clock through their overpowering running game but the passing game has been a surprising gem for them this year.
Belfry has completed 17 passes this year with nine passing touchdowns. That is over a 50 percent touchdown to completion rate with zero interceptions to add.
Last week starting QB Noah Corbett played it safe and nursed a small shoulder injury and backup QB Avery Browning went 5 for 6 with two touchdown passes.
The Pirates plethora of skill and ability give them very few weak spots for opposing teams to take advantage of. The Pirates did have a hard time containing Knoxville Catholic’s supreme passing attack, earlier in the season, but the Pirates ultimately lost that game due to turning the ball over. Fleming County may give the Pirates some trouble with the passing game but if the Pirates can contain and minimize the Panthers success they could be advancing to round three.
The Pirates have announced that Friday night will be dedicated to veterans. All veterans are welcomed enjoy the VIP section, the hospitality room, and all veterans will be recognized at the end of the first quarter for their service to the country.
(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.)