LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Coming off its first loss of the season, and its toughest opponent to date, North Laurel gets a chance to recover from Wayne County with a matchup against McCreary Central.
“The kids learned they have to come out every single play and play physical,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said of his team’s first loss.
McCreary Central is coming off its first win of the season, a 34-12 decision over winless Knott County Central. The Raiders two losses have been to Pineville (46-6) and Taylor County (42-12). The 3A Raiders have been outscored 100-52 in their three games.
“They do have some pretty good players. I think they are better offensively than they are defensively,” Larkey said.
Knott Central scored with 8:59 remaining to pull within 20-14. The Raiders put the game away with a pair of late touchdowns.
McCreary Central tallied almost 300 yards of total offense against the Patriots, led by Arlis Dople. Dople rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a pair of passes for 24 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s a scat back. He reminds you of a Nick Blair type of kid that is quick and has some good moves. He’s going to be hard to tackle,” Larkey said.
Noah Duncan rushed eight times for 64 yards and caught a 64-yard touchdown pass against Knott Central. Quarterback Dylan Cooper completed 3-of-10 passes for 60 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and one interception.
While North Laurel won handily at Pineville 42-20 in its season opener, the Raiders were routed by Pineville 46-6. Pineville led the Raiders 32-0 at halftime. The Mountain Lions led 45-0 before McCreary Central got on the scoreboard. The Raiders burned Pineville for over 100 yards offense in the first quarter, but turnovers and penalties kept them out of the end zone.
Dople again had a solid game with 15 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown. Cooper was 5-of-15 passing for 80 yards.
Pineville is the only common opponent with North Laurel, but there is some common ground in Taylor County. Taylor County beat the Raiders 42-12. Unbeaten Taylor County also has a 34-21 win over Campbellsville. The Jaguars rolled to a 40-7 win over Campbellsville in the Cumberland Valley Bowl.
Taylor County controlled the game with a defense that held McCreary Central to eight three-and-outs on 12 possessions and just 139 yards of total offense. At one point, the Raiders went seven straight possessions without a first down.
The Raiders also had a 1-2 record last year when they came to London. Again the only win was over Knott Central. North Laurel won easily 48-12 in what was the first meeting between the two schools.
The Raiders last winning record was in 2009, when the Aaron Watts’ led Raiders finished 7-4 and made the playoffs. Watts now plays for University of the Cumberlands.
The Raiders do return their leading rusher in Dople, who rushed for 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Duncan also returns as the team’s No. 2 rusher at 321 yards. Senior quarterback Cooper completed less than 25 percent of his passes a year ago (27-of-122). He also threw just three touchdowns passes with 16 interceptions. Tyson Williams was his favorite receiver with 11 catches for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Williams also picked off a pair of passes on the defensive side and returned one for a touchdown. He returned a fumble for a touchdown as well.
North Laurel will try to get the running game rolling again after being shut down by the Cardinals. After scoring more than 40 points in their first two games, the Jaguars managed only a late touchdown against Wayne County to avoid a shutout. The Jaguars had racked up over 500 yards rushing in their first two games before running into a stingy Wayne County defense.
“They are going to try to stop our run. They watched the Wayne County film and will probably try to model something after that,” Larkey said.
Larkey said the Jaguars are working to improve the passing game and will have to be more effective there with teams gearing up to stop the run.
“We’re going to try to run the football obviously and work some on our passing game too. We definitely have to improve on our passing game,” Larkey said.
After watching film of the Wayne County game, Larkey still liked what he saw on the defensive side.
“Our defense is getting better every week and getting more physical each and every game,” Larkey said.