Taking a quick look at the Tri-County football scene

With high school football just around the corner (we hope), it’s never too early to talk about the upcoming season.

All of our Tri-County teams have question marks entering the season but all seven schools return a lot of talent as well.

Let’s take a closer look at each respective team.

Corbin Redhounds

New coach Tom Greer’s Redhounds will return six starters on offense and nine starters on defense, and look to be competitive once again in both district and region play.

Corbin has three big non-district games looming against Pulaski County, Beechwood and Bowling Green, and district games against Knox Central and Wayne County aren’t going to be easy.

I do believe the abundance of talent the Redhounds return will make Corbin a force to be reckoned with. The district race should be an interesting one with both Wayne County and Knox Central returning a lot of talent as well.

The Redhounds return a lot of talent at the skill positions and will make noise on both sides of the ball. Look for Corbin to be right in the mix of things in Class 4A once again.

Knox Central

The Panthers return 10 starters on offense and eight on defense with five seniors staring on both sides of the ball.

Knox Central struggled at times last season but should contend in both district and region play this fall.

Non-district games against Bell County and South Laurel should test the Panthers, and district battles with both Wayne County and Corbin are going to be key.

Fred Hoskins’ squad returns a talented offensive group that could surprise this season. The key for Knox Central just like any other team is to remain healthy.

The Panthers have the talent to make a deep postseason run. The key will be to see how they fare in district play.

Lynn Camp

Coach Allen Harris continues to build his Wildcats into a district contender and has high hopes this fall could be when Lynn Camp breaks through.

With eight starters returning (offense and defense combined), the Wildcats look to be one of the teams that will try to put an end to Williamsburg’s district reign. The Yellow Jackets lost a lot off last season’s squad, and Lynn Camp hopes to be able to take advantage of the situation.

The Wildcats lost some talented players as well. It’s going to be interesting to see how Lynn Camp fares against its district competition.

Harris’ squad does play non-district games against Clay County and Middlesboro (both road games) while hosting Jackson County. Those games should prepare the Wildcats for their district matchups.

North Laurel

Chris Larkey’s Jaguars graduated a lot of talent last season but still return six starters on offense and five on defense.

North Laurel is going to field a younger than usual team but that doesn’t mean the Jaguars won’t be talented enough to make a run at the playoffs.

The Jaguars will play another tough district slate, and things don’t get any easier with non-district matchups with Dunbar, Lincoln County, and Wayne County.

I’ve said this with some of the other teams, but it’s going to be interesting to see just how North Laurel fares this fall.

South Laurel

Coach Donnie Burdine’s Cardinals return seven starters on offense and three starters on defense and look to make a run at the playoffs after missing out last season with a 2-8 mark.

Injuries played a big role in South Laurel’s struggles last season, and if the Cardinals can remain healthy this fall, they have the talent to be the surprise team in the Tri-County.

Games against Boyd County, Breathitt County, and Bell County to begin the season won’t be easy while matchups against North Laurel, Pulaski County, Southwestern, Whitley County, and Knox Central make things even tougher for South Laurel. Yes, the Cardinals play another tough slate this season.

It will be interesting to see how Burdine’s squad will fare this fall. I believe they return enough talent to make an appearance in the playoffs.

Whitley County

Jep Irwin had one heck of a season during his first year as Colonel coach, and he’s hoping to lead Whitley County to an even better season this fall.

Granted, he will have to find a new quarterback along with some wide receivers. The Colonels will return talent on both the offensive and defensive lines, and will remain competitive because of the nucleus of talent they return.

Whitley County participated in a tough district but will return enough talent to compete for a playoff spot.

Williamsburg

The Yellow Jackets graduated 20 seniors off last season’s 10-win team. That’s a tremendous amount of players to lose no matter what class you participate in.

With that said, coach Jerry Herron will find a way to have his team prepared and ready for battle this fall.

The key is to find replacements for the skill players he lost, which included quarterback Dalton Ponder, who passed for 3,739 yards and ran for 593 yards.

He accounted for 61 (48 passing, 13 rushing) of Williamsburg’s 82 touchdowns the Yellow Jackets scored last season.

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