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Larry Welch (center) is the new head football coach at South Laurel. His assistants are, left to right: Michael Sizemore, Shane Bundy, Matt Powenski and Jeremy Kidd. Not pictured are Billy Roberts and Justin Kemper.

If you only know Larry Welch from his time at Laurel County, then you know very little about him as a coach. Welch worked two years as an assistant under Roy Bowling. Being an assistant girls basketball coach may not seem like much preparation for coaching football. Welch says he learned much from the basketball coaching legend.

Welch then spent a year as assistant football coach at South Laurel under Jason Chappell, who “had a way with the kids and a great work ethic.”

Welch also has three-years head coaching experience at North Laurel.

While Welch draws those experiences, his true coaching pedigree began much earlier.

Welch worked under Rockcastle County coach Tom Larkey for six years and helped build one of the state’s top programs. There he developed a close relationship with new North Laurel coach Chris Larkey, who he says is “like a brother.”

Welch played for Glen Polly at Rockcastle County and later coached along side him at Laurel County.

“He was stern, but the kids loved him.”

Welch credits his time as an assistant under Jack Eicher at Laurel County, who Welch said had a work ethic second to none.

With a lengthy football background, the on-the-field coaching has been smooth for Welch. This is the part of coaching he has done for season upon season. Getting players in shape and in the right position comes naturally. The paper work, public relations and additional duties of a head coach are necessary tasks.

“The part on the field is a lot easier,” Welch said.

Welch’s coaching staff is a mix of youth and experience. Much of the experience comes from assistant head coach Matt Powenski’s 10 years coaching at the college level. Michigan and former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was Powenski’s mentor at Glenville State for three years. Powenski also spent  seven years as an assistant at Union College before moving to high school coaching. Powenski was the assistant coach at Spencer County for two years before taking the head coaching job three two seasons. Rodriguez was also Powenski’s coach in college at Glenville State, where the defensive coordinator was Dean Hood, current coach at Eastern Kentucky University.

Billy Roberts returns to coach the South Laurel offensive line. Roberts has coached about a decade in the Laurel County school system at the high school and middle school levels. Roberts, a South Laurel graduate played college football at Sue Bennett and Murray State.

Jeremy Kidd is in his second year as an assistant after playing four years at The University of the Cumberlands. Kidd was nose guard and team captain for the Mid-South champion Patriots. The former Mercer County standout will be coaching the defensive line and running backs.

Michael Sizemore is in his second year as special teams and wide receivers coach. Sizemore played high school football at South Laurel and Clay County. He is currently working on an education degree at Eastern Kentucky University.

Another former Laurel County standout, Shane Bundy, joins Welch’s staff as an assistant. Bundy played for the 1988 team that was ranked No. 1 in the state before that squad was sidetracked by injury. Welch was an assistant on the Polly-coached team.

Justin Kemper rounds out Welch’s staff as a first year-coach. Kemper played four years on the offensive line at South Laurel.

“People coach in different ways. Some are more outgoing and some are the teaching  type. We’ve got a mixture,” Welch said.

Although will be some continuity for the Cardinals with Welch at the helm and Roberts and Sizemore returning to the staff. There will be style change out of necessity.

The Cardinals don’t have the record-setting arm of Ricky Bowling or the same group of receivers. What they do have is a strong offensive line, when they are healthy, and a solid group of running backs.

South Laurel has 61 players on the roster. Welch would like to see a few more freshmen, but doesn’t want to add someone just to build the numbers.

“Numbers are a good thing if they have worked to be that number. I want a football player,” he said.

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