Two Top 10 teams invade South Laurel on Saturday for the ninth installment of the Cumberland Valley Bowl.

The bowl game has been moved to Saturday this year, and will feature the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 8 in Class 1A, and the Knox Central Panthers, ranked 10th in Class 4A, along with North and South Laurel.

Cumberland Valley National Bank is still the primary sponsor, but this year WKFC joins them, making this the Cumberland Valley/WKFC ESPN Bowl.

The Yellow Jackets will battle South Laurel, while the Panthers take on North Laurel. Both Knox Central and South Laurel will be looking for its first win of the young season.

Knox Central was expected to win its opener with Somerset. North Laurel was not supposed to win against the No. 9 team in Class 5A, Pulaski County. Neither game went as expected.

The Panthers fell, 24-22, to a Somerset team that lost its head coach late in the preseason. North Laurel pulled the upset in knocking off the Maroons, 36-33.

The Panthers opened the season ranked No. 7 in Class 5A, according to Bluegrasspreps.com. Somerset held the No. 12 spot in 3A.

Knox Central lost two of its first three games last season, but recovered to win a school record nine games. The Panthers’ 2008 season ended with a 19-14 loss to Bell County in the region finals. If the opener against Pulaski County was an upset, a win this week might be bigger.

“Knox Central may be the best team on our schedule,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said.

The Panthers graduated 13 players last season with most of the losses coming at the skill positions. Knox Central returns a lot of experience along the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line lost just one starter from last year’s squad.

“They have an awesome offensive and defensive line,” Larkey said. “They are also well-coached.”

Sophomore Jonathan Burger (6-0, 170) gets the start at quarterback. Burger, who also played point guard on the basketball team as a freshman, will have to replace Corey Smith who threw for over 1,500 yards last year. Also gone is Dexter Karns, who led the team with 1,300 yards rushing. Filling his shoes will be senior Chad Merida (5-11, 215), who rushed for over 700 yards last season.

The test for the North Laurel defense will be adjusting to a Knox Central offense that is much different than the misdirection and speed of Pulaski County.

“(Knox Central) is a totally different team. They are going to run right at us,” Larkey said. That game is set to kick-off at 6 p.m.

South Laurel will be looking to upstart a stagnant offense that produced only three first downs in a 34-6 loss at Letcher Co. Central last week, while the Yellow Jackets will look to build on their 38-16 win over Jellico.

Williamsburg is coming off a 10-2 season, one that saw them capture the district title for the third straight year. After losing 12 seniors to graduation, coach Jerry Herron is still expecting a good season.

“We have a good group of players coming back, a lot of our skill players coming back, and that is going to be huge for us,” Herron said.

Ryan Moses leads a Yellow Jacket offense at quarterback. A three-year starter, he led Class A in passing the past two seasons. At 6-3, 175, Moses has the size that makes him a tough passer to defend.

Coming into the season, Williamsburg was looking to Chris Lowrie to be one of its top running backs. But Lowrie broke his leg in an off-the-field accident, so others were looked upon to carry the ball, including Jarred Barton and Travis Thomas.

“They have a good, solid team,” South coach Larry Welch said. “They have an excellent quarterback, and some good receivers. Their defense is hard-nosed. They don’t have a lot of numbers, but they have experience.”

Welch said that his team will still be without the services of Chaz Proffitt and Brandon Lee, but they will get back some of the offensive line for this game.

“That will help us, offensively,” Welch said. “It’s a matter of experience and size. That will make a big difference.”

Welch said against Letcher Central, his team played hard until late in the second quarter, when something changed.

“We really didn’t quit,” Welch said. “But we slowed down, and paid the penalty. Early on I was pleased with our defense, but then they lost their focus, and we missed a lot of tackles. At times we had some good points, and we’ve got to build on that for an entire game.”

Kick-off for the South Laurel-Williamsburg game is set for 8 p.m.

Activities get underway at 3 p.m. when the Computer Place Bowl will take place between the eighth-grade squads from South and North Middle.

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