By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
You could look at Lincoln County as the break between playing unbeaten Pulaski County and unbeaten Madison Southern. You could, but it would be a mistake.
“A lot of people say it is a trap game. We’ve talked to our kids about all that. They know the ramifications of playing this football game. If they overlook them, it’s not because we haven’t told them not to,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said.
The three teams that have beaten Lincoln County this season have similarities. Boyle County, Bourbon County, and Pulaski County are all unbeaten and highly rated in state polls. With Pulaski County playing at Madison Southern this week for the district lead, Lincoln County and North Laurel still have a lot at stake in their contest.
“Lincoln County does have a good football team. They are fundamentally sound, well-coached, disciplined and they just play good hard football,” Larkey said.
The only common opponent between the two teams is Pulaski County. The Jaguars fell to Pulaski County 42-26 last week for their first loss of the season. Lincoln County lost to the Maroons 61-35. Both games were played in Somerset.
The Patriots have given up a lot of points this season with opponents averaging 31.7 points per game. Those numbers again are a little skewed by the three ranked opponents. Take out the three teams the Patriots have lost to and they are only allowing 16.25 points per game.
“You want to hope you can score against anybody you play. We want to be able to drive the ball down the field and control the clock like we usually do. We have to run at them and see what we can get,” Larkey said.
North Laurel was allowing only 12 points per game before running into the potent Pulaski County offense. They did play that game without two of their top defenders in Michael Nelson and Austin Baker.
Offensively the Patriots have scored more points each week since being shut out in the season opener against Boyle County. They have scored 35 or more the last three weeks, including 35 in the Pulaski County loss.
“They like to run the football and throw to the fullback. They like to run sweep and power. They look a lot like us. They run a lot of the same formations we do,” Larkey said.
The Patriots will also spread the field and throw short routes. Larkey said the Lincoln County quarterback is consistent on short throws.
The Jaguars did get good news on the injury report despite last week’s tough test with Pulaski County. Baker will return to the lineup and Nelson wants to play, but remains a game-time decision.