Winning in the playoffs is becoming commonplace for the Pineville Mountain Lions. Last week’s 43-7 victory over Berea gave Pineville a first round win for the third time in the last four years. The Lions haven’t been able to get past the second round and they another stiff test on Friday when they visit Williamsburg for the regional semifinals.
Coach Bart Elam said he’s happy to see a that entered the season with some question marks put together a 7-4 record and still have a chance to keep playing.
“We’re really proud to be playing this week. This is a team that a lot of people didn’t think would even be solid at the beginning of the year,” he said. “We’ve got freshmen scattered out all over the place. Our stars are up front, a lot of people like to talk about the skill kids and the athletes, but if you can be good up front I think you can be a pretty good football team.”
That group of offensive linemen includes seniors Ryan Miller at center, Matt Hubbard, John Robbins and Jackie Patterson at the tackles and Jessie Patterson and Tyler Evans at the guards along with sophomore Tyler Givens. They’ve paved the way for a successful season while the rest of the offense matured behind them.
Entering the year, the Lions had one proven play-maker in senior Conner Ford. Ford had split time at running back and receiver and still moves around the formation quite a bit, but has settled in mostly at fullback where’s he’s run for over 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Freshman quarterback Tucker Woolum has completed over 50-percent of his passes for about 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns while freshman Will Adams is Pineville’s leading receiver.
“Our team has really hung our hat our up front kids this year, along with some running backs and things that have really come along. They’ve carried us all year,” Elam added.
Sophomore running back Brad Fuson has taken full advantage of the o-line’s work to become a reliable compliment to Ford in the running game. Fuson has run for 925 yards and 16 touchdowns after last week’s 152-yard three score performance against Berea.
“Bradley Fuson is a guy that has fallen under the radar, really his whole life. He’s never been in that star role. I’m so happy that his hard work and dedication to practice has paid off,” Elam said. “He always does exactly what you ask of him. He’s not the fastest guy in the world, but he hits the hole hard like he’s supposed to. I’m just really proud of him and he’s turned into our horse along with Conner. We would be hurting without either one of them.”
Williamsburg (8-2) is the District 5 champion and looks every bit like a team that could be representing the East in Bowling Green for the Class A state championship.
Senior quarterback Dalton Sizemore has completed 127 of 210 passes for 2,207 yard and 25 touchdowns. Juniors Skyler Griffith and Corey Shelton have both caught right at 40 passes for over 800 yards with 11 touchdowns each. Chase Lowrie and Michael Rose-Creekmore are also involved in the passing game while junior Jefferson Patrick has added 538 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
The Yellow Jackets are averaging nearly 43 points per game, but their defense has also been playing well of late. They’ve allowed zero points in four of their last five games, including a 47-0 win at Pineville just two weeks ago.
“We know two weeks ago we got our tails kicked. That’s part of getting prepared for this bunch, we’re not going to be able to line up and do the same old stuff against this team. Physically, they’re better than us in spots. We’ve got to be get more creative and that’s what we’re trying to do this week,” Elam said. “We’re just trying to figure out scheme-wise some things we can do positively to try and control the football and keep it out of their hands.”
He said Pineville’s defensive plan will be to show the Yellow Jackets some different looks and maybe bring a little extra pressure on occasion.
“You’re not going to stop Williamsburg, but we’ve got to make them run more plays. Defensively we played really good in spots (the last time) but offensively we really dropped the ball, I mean we didn’t do a thing,” he said. “We’re going to put more people in the box sometimes, we’re going to take people out of the box in certain situations. You either guess right or wrong and that’s the chance you’ve got to take defensively.”
The one positive about taking on the same team so soon after a lopsided loss is that the Lions enter with no pressure.
“As far as that goes, we’ve got nothing to lose. Nobody gives us a shot to win this football game except us, and that’s okay. We like being the underdog,” Elam added. “We’re going to try and put a little more effort into controlling the line of scrimmage and hopefully it turns out better.”
Friday’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in Williamsburg.