By Mitch Howard and Denis House
Sports Writer and Sports Editor
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — W’burg brings explosive offense to bowl
When one of your biggest concerns has been defense, Williamsburg is not the team you want coming to town.
“Williamsburg is very explosive on offense. They have a lot of athletes and I mean really good athletes all over the field,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said.
North Laurel won its season opener with Claiborne County (TN) 48-20, but the Jaguars defense did allow more points and yards than Larkey would have liked. This week in practice he did not see the improvement he wanted.
“We’ve got guys that have to step up and play defensively and they are not doing that. They are the best guys we’ve got so we don’t have a choice. They’ve just got to play tougher,” Larkey said.
Williamsburg averaged more than 42 points per game last season. They scored 70 points against Pineville and more than 60 points three times. Other than the 7-0 loss to Hazard, the Yellow Jackets season low had been 20 points in a loss to Oneida, TN. Oneida was the only other game they lost last season. The Yellow Jackets seem to be picking up right where they left off with a 43-14 win over Halls (TN) to open this season.
“They’re going to score some touchdowns against us. They’re going to get some yards against us. I just hope we don’t get into a shootout with them,” Larkey said.
The Yellow Jackets’ weapons include quarterback Dalton Sizemore, who threw for over 3,000 yards and 39 touchdowns last season. Sizemore completed 65 percent of his passes and also rushed for a team high 626 yards and five touchdowns.
“He’s a really good high school quarterback and he will go to college somewhere and play quarterback,” Larkey said. “He’s got tall, fast wide receivers and he’s got cannon for an arm.”
Sizemore’s favorite targets are Corey Shelton and Skyler Griffith. Shelton caught 63 passes last year for over 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Griffith was equally effective with 61 catches for 1,176 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“It’s going to be hard for us to win the ballgame. They’ve got so many weapons on offense you can’t cover them all. You can’t stop everybody,” Larkey said.
When North Laurel has the football, they want to control it as long as they can to keep the ball away from the Yellow Jackets explosive offense. Larkey said that doesn’t mean they can rely on just the running game.
“You don’t want Williamsburg to have the football, but you can’t run it every single play. They are going to stack the box on us, so we will have to spread them out and try to throw the ball a little bit,” Larkey said.
There is talent on the defensive side for Williamsburg as well with Jefferson Patrick recording over 100 tackles last season. Griffith and Shelton combined for 11 interceptions.
“Defensively they run different fronts. They are very fast to the football and a hard-hitting football team,” Larkey said.
The last two seasons have ended the same for Williamsburg with losses to Hazard in the region finals. For Williamsburg it is added incentive to take another step and play for a state title. Larkey thinks they have the team to do it.
“They are very hard to stop. They are one of the best teams, if not the best team in Class A. This is supposed to be their year. I predict them to go to Bowling Green and the state championship game,” Larkey said.
The last meeting between the two schools was in 2010 with North Laurel winning 41-20.
Wayne tough opening challenge for Cards
When Wayne County visits South Laurel this Saturday for the second game of the 13th Cumberland Valley Bowl, new South coach Matt Rhymer knows his team is in for quite a battle.
“Wayne County has a solid football program,” Rhymer said. “They are well-coached, they have a great scheme in all phases of the game, and they play fast, physical football. This will be a great challenge for us and will really help us see where we stack up with physical football teams.”
Wayne County (1-0) is coming off a 10-2 season that saw the Cardinals advanced to the second round of the Class 3A state football playoff before falling to eventual state champion Central, 21-18. Last week Wayne opened with a 44-14 thrashing of Monroe County, led by quarterback Tyler Guffey, who was 8-of-18 for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Rhymer was there to scout the Cardinals.
“He is big, strong and can run and throws the ball pretty well,” Rhymer said. He also rushed for two scores.
But he’s not the only Wayne County weapon.
Wide receiver/defensive back Alan Brow had one reception for 25 yards last week and Rhymer said he has big play potential. Jason Perkins caught five passes for 107 yards and two scores. “He can really make plays on offense and defense,” Rhymer said. “Both of these guys are very fast.”
Against Monroe County, Wayne rushed for 166 yards and passed for 158 yards for a very balanced offensive attack. Rhymer said that running back Junior Ruiz is big, strong and all around solid player. He rushed for 378 yards and six touchdowns last season. He rushed for 53 against Wayne County. The Cards run a multiple formation Pistol Offense, while on defense they run a 50.
“Jason Barnes is all over the field on defense at linebacker,” Rhymer said. “Lance Humble will be one of the best defensive linemen that we face all year.”
Rhymer said his team is healthy overall coming into his first game as head coach. While he knows that his team will be the underdogs going in, he still feels like they have a chance to pull out a win.
“Our keys to victory will be believing in ourselves and our philosophy, taking care of us will be the biggest challenge,” Rhymer said. “We always have to protect the ball, limit penalties, by physical at the point of attack on both sides of the ball, and pursue the football as a unit on defense for four quarters. We have to make Wayne County go the long, hard way when they have the ball, and we can’t give up big plays and let people behind us.”
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Saturday night.