By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
One week in the district portion of the schedule, Class 5A, District 7 appears to have turned upside down. The bottom three teams last season, North Laurel, Pulaski County, and Madison Southern are the three teams with winning records. All three also won their district openers. At least one of those three will have a loss this week when the Maroons play at North Laurel on Thursday.
“It’s going to be a hard-fought game. They’ve got a lot of speed and a lot of skill guys,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said.
The Maroons have two losses on the season, but the losses have come to two very good teams. Pulaski County lost to undefeated Russell County 28-14. They are the only team to hold the Lakers under 45 points. Russell County beat North Laurel 45-35. The Maroons other loss was to unbeaten 6A Simon Kenton 50-7.
The Maroons have averaged 35 points in their wins over Lincoln County, Rowan County, and Rockcastle County.
“I hope we can do like we did again Russell County. Control the clock and slow them down some,” Larkey said.
The Maroons biggest weapon on offense is senior running back Tyler Goins. Goins is averaging 115 yards per game with eight touchdowns. He has also caught 20 passes for 172 yards.
”They have a good tailback in Goins. We’ve got to stop the Goins kid,” Larkey said. “He’s been their go-to guy like Gabe (Blair) has been for us.”
The Maroons have also shown the ability to throw the ball with freshman quarterback Riley Hall. Hall has thrown for 811 yards and five touchdowns. He also has five interceptions. He is throwing about 25 passes per game and completing 63 percent.
“They run all kinds of multiple sets and try to confuse you,” Larkey said. “He’s got some skill guys at receiver that know how to go up and catch the football.”
The top receiver has been Aaron Hall with 22 receptions and a pair of touchdowns. The Maroons have four receivers with more than a dozen catches.
Although pass defense was one of the concerns for North Laurel coming into the season, the defensive backfield has been solid with nine interceptions, led by Isaac Napier with five.
“They have played exceptionally well. They have not given up anything bad so far and they work hard in practice,” Larkey said.
The Maroons defense has given up 877 yards on the ground through five games and 643 through the air. That’s over 300 yards total offense per game and give the Jaguars hope they will be able to move the ball.
“They’ve got a good defensive line and they have some guys that will come up and hit you,” Larkey said. “They are real aggressive on defense.”
Linebacker Mason Collins and Collin Hau-Blair are leading tacklers for the Maroons with 52 each. With six other players with over 25 tackles, it shows the swarming defense Larkey mentioned.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Thursday at North Laurel.