October 4, 2013

Jags try to slow high-scoring Maroons

By Mitch Howard
Sports Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Coming off its toughest win of the season, North Laurel goes directly to its toughest opponent of the season. The No. 7 Jaguars needed a last-second, goal line stand to open district play with a 21-14 win over Southwestern. This week they travel to No. 2 ranked Pulaski County for another district game.

“Offensively they are by far the best team we’re going to play all year. They just have so much skill and so many weapons,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said. “They are going to score points.”

The Maroons have scored more points than any other 5A team in the state. They average 50 points through five games, including last week’s 61-35 rout of Lincoln County. Pulaski County scored 49 points in handing Russell County its only loss of the season. Russell County has only allowed 26 points in its other four games combined. The season low output for the Maroons was in a 38-7 win over Montgomery County. Pulaski County has won its first six games by an average of 29.2points.

“We just have to try to limit the amount they do score. It’s going to be hard, they are a well-coached, disciplined, and fundamentally sound football team,” Larkey said.

The Jaguars might not be scoring at the same pace as the Maroons, but the numbers are favorable. While Pulaski County puts up big numbers on the offensive side, they have also allowed about 21 points per game. North Laurel’s defense and ball-control offense has allowed just 60 points on the season, which is also the fewest in 5A.

For the North Laurel defense to slow down the Pulaski County they have to start with Maroons quarterback Riley Hall.

“Riley Hall has really come into himself this year. He didn’t run the ball a lot last year. This year he is a big threat to run the football. He’s fast and he’s hard to tackle,” Larkey said.

Hall is Pulaski County’s leading rusher with 283 yards and three touchdowns. He has also completed 76 of 114 passes with 12 touchdowns and one interception. He has already passed the 1,000 yard passing mark for the year. The statistics are through the first five games with the numbers against Lincoln County not yet reported.

Caleb Cox leads the team in carries with 58 and is behind only Hall with 262 rushing yards. There are three other back with over 150 yards rushing.

“They have three good running backs. Cox, the tailback, is a very hard runner. He’s one of the better backs we’ll face all year too,” Larkey said.

Last week against Southwestern Logan Campisano rushed for 187 yards and Skylar Stigall also topped 100 yards against the Jaguars. The problem for North Laurel this week is you can’t focus on just the run or even one or two players. Three different receivers have 10 or more catches with 250 to 300 receiving yards and a combined 10 touchdowns.

“You can’t concentrate on one kid. You can’t concentrate on two kids or three kids. You have to concentrate on four or five of them,” Larkey said. ““Nobody has stopped them and we’re not going to stop them from scoring. They are going to score some points. We just have to limit the points they get and that’s easier said than done.”

The Maroons defense has been best against the run, allowing just 405 yards through five games. They have allowed over 1,000 passing yards, but those numbers may be skewed by large deficits forcing opponents to throw more.

“On defense they play a lot of hard-nosed, smash mouth, stop the run kind of stuff. They have good secondary players,” Larkey said.