Last season North Laurel entered the Corbin game on a roll. The Jaguars had won three straight to open the season and confidence was high. The momentum took a week off as Corbin handled North Laurel, 34-8.
“We were in the game for a long time until they ran a fake punt on us. It took our momentum away. We’re trying to switch that around with our kids. When you get behind you can’t quit,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said.
Corbin graduated 18 seniors from a team that went 10-3 and won two playoff games before losing to Prestonsburg, 23-7. There are a lot of new faces in the Corbin lineup, but as Larkey puts it, “Corbin is Corbin.”
“Corbin football is like UK basketball. They expect you to win a state championship every year. If you don’t, it’s a disappointment,” Larkey said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs. We want to get to where we are like that program.”
The Redhounds enter this week with a 1-1 record. They opened the season with a 52-14 trouncing of Harlan. Boyle County then handled the Redhounds easily in the Cumberland Falls Pigskins Classic, 42-10.
It is hard to read much into either game. Harlan is a small Class A school that also lost to Williamsburg, 32-14. Boyle County is the defending 4A state champion and winner of 31 of its last 32 games.
“Corbin is fundamentally a really good football team. They are smart and have good athletes and they are well-coached. It’s going to be a hard game for us,” Larkey said.
Matthew Taylor had a huge game against Harlan with 94 yards on just seven carries. He also caught two passes for 55 yards and scored five touchdowns. Taylor scored a touchdown on a fake punt and another on a punt return.
“The Taylor kid is a great athlete. He’s going to be one of the better players we play against,” Larkey said. “He’s a good-sized kid and runs really fast. He’s just all over the field.”
Also a threat to run the ball is fullback Brady Foley. Foley has 131 yards on 17 carries.
“He’s a hard runner and plays with a lot of emotion,” Larkey said.
Roman Mitchell has taken most of the snaps at quarterback, completing 8-of-17 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown. However, Ty Cobb took over in the second half against Boyle County. Cobb has completed 10-of-16 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown.
“When Cobb went to quarterback, he threw the ball real well. I don’t know what they will do this week. I guess we’ll find out Friday,” Larkey said.
The favorite target of the quarterbacks has been sophomore Josh Jewell, with eight catches for 79 yards.
“Jewell, the No. 1 receiver, is a really good receiver. He does a great job of getting open and catching balls,” Larkey said.
Taylor leads the team in receiving yards with 137 and has the only two touchdown receptions.
“They run trick plays and they aren’t scared to run them. The will line up in a lot of different formations and try to trick you,” Larkey said.
On defense, Larkey expects to see a lot of different formations as well and a lot of blitzing from the linebackers. The Jaguars have spent a lot of time in practice making sure their linemen know who to block.
“They are real quick on defense, but they are real physical too. They aren’t afraid to come up and hit you,” Larkey said.
The Jaguars are expected to be without their leading rusher this week. Ronnie Rotundi is still recovering from a concussion suffered while playing defense in the South Laurel game.
“We’re still young. This is really just our 14th game coming up that these kids have played in this system,” Larkey said.
Although Corbin has a young team this year, the Redhound players have been groomed into their system since elementary school.
“I wouldn’t say they are down. I would say they are young. They are going to get better as the year goes along,” Larkey said.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight at North Laurel.
Mitch Howard can be reached at email@example.com.