By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Just because Southwestern has an 0-7 record, don’t think for one minute that the Warriors are not a good football team.
All seven losses have come to opponents who are currently or have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 in their respective classes. South Laurel coach Matt Rhymer knows this all too well.
“Southwestern is a solid team that has come up short several times,” Rhymer said. “They could have a much better record. I think they have had bad breaks this season.”
With the exception of losses to Wayne County and Madison Southern, the Warriors were in every other game. They lost 14-0 to Corbin, 31-28 to Knox Central, 22-19 to Somerset, 38-27 to Belfry and 21-14 to North Laurel.
“They are a big physical team,” Rhymer said. “They like to run the ball, but they do spread the field and it allows for some play action pass to stretch the defense and keep your secondary accountable. They have a really nice running back (Logan Campisano) who accounts for a lot of their offense. He is a very good athlete. If we can contain him, it will give us a chance.”
Right now both teams are 0-2 in district play. The top four teams make the playoffs. Both teams are behind Lincoln County, who are 1-1 and play North Laurel tonight. A win for either team would put them right back in playoff contention.
“Any win at this point would be great for us especially a district win,” Rhymer said. “This is a really tough district and to win inside the district would be a huge momentum swing for us. We have stressed to our team that if they will believe and respond, we are not out of the race yet. A lot of things could happen in the next four weeks.”
South Laurel has had several injuries to key players during the course of the season, but all of them that are able to come back will play tonight. The rest, Rhymer said, will likely be out for the season. Last week against Lincoln County, Jonathan Jenkins, Taylor Morris and Jacob Hale made their return to the lineup.
“We need to get better this week in practice at blocking and tackling if we want to win this game,” Rhymer said. “We have to control the ball and score points when we get in the red zone.” Last week against Lincoln County South was inside the red zone five times but only came away with six points.
“On defense we have to win the line of scrimmage and contain their running back (Campisano),” Rhymer said. “He is a solid player, very fast. Our secondary players have to do a better job in making tackles if the ball gets into space. Recently we have given up big plays that have beat us. We really need to take better pursuit angles, and swarm tackle. Our team has to understand that a sure tackle is a great tackle.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight at Southwestern High School.