By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
In two games, Clay County has been outscored 63-0. North Laurel has won its two games by a combined 79-34. If you are saying easy win for the Jaguars, coach Chris Larkey says not so fast.
“They’ve got a big team. They are really big,” Larkey said. “I just think it’s going to be a tough physical game for us.”
The last meeting between the two teams came in 2010 when the Tigers routed North Laurel 48-0. The Jaguars won just two games that season with Clay County finishing 8-4 with one playoff win.
“They beat us to death over there one year,” Larkey said.
North Laurel won 33-8 a year earlier in London. This time Larkey expects a motivated Clay County team for its bowl game.
Clay County finished 4-7 last year under first-year coach Evan Napier. Among the players gone from that team is massive lineman Jacob Hyde that signed with the University of Kentucky. Larkey says there are still some players to contend with.
Sam Carr has rushed for 105 yards on 27 carries in the first two games, but has yet to cross the goal line.
“They like to spread the ball. They try to get it out to (Carr) and get him outside. He’s a good-sized running back and he’s really, really fast. He’s going to be a problem for us if he gets loose,” Larkey said. “They throw the ball pretty good, but their main offense is going to be getting that guy running and getting him loose.”
With the Tigers’ size along the line, Larkey expects the Jaguars to be forced to throw the ball more this week. The Jaguars have thrown the ball only 18 percent of their possessions so far.
“They are going to run a 44 (scheme) and they are very big on the defensive line. They try to stand you up,” Larkey said. “They have one defensive lineman that will bull rush and he pushes everybody back. He’s going to be a problem to block.”
North Laurel completed just two passes in its win over Williamsburg. Michael Nelson has completed 7-of-15 passes in two games. Nelson and Gabe Blair have both rushed for an identical 231 yards on the season on a combined 71 carries.
“We’ve got to try to throw the ball a little bit this week. I would like to at least, but it can be tough if they are getting a good rush on us,” Larkey said. “We’ve been working really hard this week on throwing the ball on certain routes.”
Larkey said he did see improvement in his team from game No. 1 to game No. 2. That’s is what he is looking for most as the season progresses.
“We improved from the first week and that’s all you’ve got to do,” Larkey said.