By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel already knows they will be travelling to Perry Central for the first round of the playoffs. That doesn’t mean they will look past the season finale against Grant County. North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said Grant County is the only game that matters this week.
The Jaguars have started to work on some plays for Perry Central, but the game plan is for Grant County.
“You put a little bit more in each day. It just so happens that both teams are very similar so,” Larkey said.
Grant County has just one win this season, but the Braves have played a competitive schedule. Four of their losses have been to teams with 7-2 records and they also lost to 6-3 South Oldham.
“They are in a very tough district up there in Northern Kentucky. They play a different style of football than mountain schools do,” Larkey said. “It’s a football area. They have a lot more athletes up there so they have a lot of enthusiasm. They have a lot of kids.”
The Braves do have about 20 more players on their roster than North Laurel. One of the Jaguars key players, Michael Nelson, will not be available due to re injuring his ankle against South Laurel.
Grant County is in a tradition-rich area near Cincinnati with some of the more storied programs in Kentucky football at their back door.
“They play Conner, whose quarterback is a Five-Star recruit going to UK. They play Cooper in their district, who was in the state finals last year. They play a tough schedule. It’s hard to win up there unless you are a Highlands, a Beechwood , a Covington Catholic, a Ryle or someone like that,” Larkey said.
The Braves are averaging just 15 points per game. The only game they managed more than 20 points was in their only win (35-10 over Owen County.) Their 1,696 total yards this season are little more than Gabe Blair’s rushing total of 1,493 yards.
“They try to throw the ball quite a bit and they have a big Jerome Bettis-type kid running the ball,” Larkey said.
Leading rusher Hunter Lawson has 475 yards and five touchdowns on 114 carries. That puts him just above the total of North Laurel’s No. 3 rusher Jake McFadden. McFadden’s yards came on just 24 carries and McFadden also has one more touchdown.
Quarterback Joseph Knipp has completed 57 of 130 passes (44 percent) for 426 yards and three touchdowns.