Bell County hosts Corbin tonight in with a home playoff game and second place in Class 3A’s District 4 on the line.
The Redhounds (6-1, 1-1) and Bobcats (4-3, 1-1) will also be renewing a classic rivalry.
“It’s Corbin and we have a history of good, close ballgames with each other. It’s been a good rivalry in the Mountains just renewed a couple of years ago. There’s a lot on the line for both teams and I think you’ll see both team rise to the occasion and play a good football game, hopefully the Bobcats will come out on top,” Bell County coach Wayne Mills said.
Bell has gotten the best of the rivalry recently, winning both meetings by wide margins since the teams were put in the same district in 2011 and seven of the last ten in the series overall.
But the Redhounds come in as the favorite this season. They gave Wayne County a great game two weeks ago before dropping a 35-28 decision and are coming off a 60-0 win at McCreary Central.
The Bobcats lost 41-6 at Wayne County and bounced back two weeks ago with a 50-0 win over Casey County. They’ve had an open date to get healthy and prepare for Corbin.
“I feel like our kids have gotten better the last two weeks and we played well against Casey County. We’ve challenged them to come out and play well,” Mills said. “They’ve got something to prove to the community and something to prove to themselves. You’re going to see an inspired football team Friday night.”
As for injuries the team is healthy other than the losses of Dylan Cox and Evan Brock for the season.
“Dylan Cox is done for the year with a torn labrum and we lost Evan Brock for the year, that’s two real good football players. Other than that we’re as healthy as we can be as a team right now. Hayden Gilbert and Peyton Collett are both about 100 percent and our backs are all healthy so I’m thankful for that,” Mills added.
The build-up to this week’s game is similar to what the Bobcats went through getting ready to play Knox Central after losing to Middlesboro. Though they were considered huge underdogs by most observers, Bell County won that game handily.
“That showed the character of our kids to be able to bounce back from a tough loss. Hopefully we can kind of get that same result,” Mills said. “Corbin, the last two years we’ve beat them pretty good and I’m sure that’s in the back of their mind.
“They’ve got a really nice football team, I’ve been impressed with them and I think coach (Steve) Jewell does a good job. Corbin is Corbin, no matter what their record is they’re going to play you hard and it’s going to be a good night of football.”
He said keys for tonight’s contest are the same as most big games.
“Always limit turnovers. That’s what hurt us at Wayne County was getting stopped on downs and turning it over. The games we’ve won and looked good we’ve limited our turnovers and penalties. Defensively we’ve got to get off the field on third downs. That’s a key for us, the times we’ve struggled have been when we give up eight and nine play drives and get worn down,” said Mills. “We’ve got to establish something offensively, Corbin is pretty good defensively. Hopefully our backs can get established, we can block well and run the football to give ourselves a chance to win.”
In the win over Casey County, sophomore quarterback Peyton Collett had his best game to date completing 9 of 12 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. The Bobcats opened that game in with a four receiver look, but Mills isn’t sure how much of that offense will be used tonight.
“I don’t know if it lends itself to do that much this week because Corbin will still be bringing a lot if you spread it out. Depending on what they do we may have to get into to and that will allow Peyton to do some things,” he said. “We’ve worked on it and we’re developing our passing game with Peyton and our receivers. We’re going to do what the defense allows us to do, we’re not going to just keep beating our heads against a wall. We’ll find something that we like and let our kids go execute.”
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.