Bell County enters 2015 coming off a season that saw the Bobcats go 8-2 in the regular season and advance to the second round of the playoffs. The team ultimately dropped a 21-7 decision to Louisville Central.
This year, Bell County returns a quarterback with four years of starting experience. Peyton Collett will lead the Bobcat offense after a season where he went 50-120 passing with only three interceptions. He also tallied 13 passing touchdowns and added three rushing touchdowns.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” said head coach Wayne Mills in a previous interview. “He’s not going to see anything that surprises him because he’s been to battle for us.”
While the Bobcats lost there leading rusher from a year ago — Austin Caldwell, who rushed for 1,080 yards — the team returns three running backs who rushed for a combined 1,430 yards. Those runners include junior Treyton Humfleet and seniors Corey Swanner and Chase Woolum.
Humfleet totaled 582 yards on the ground last season and added nine rushing touchdowns. Woolum went 72 for 564 with three touchdowns, and Swanner carried the ball 39 times for 284 yards and four touchdowns.
The offensive line has the potential to be the anchor for the Bell County offense this season. The team is returning four of the five starting linemen from last year.
“I think us having four of five starters back gives us confidence,” said Mills in a previous interview. “Those kids have played a couple of years together and they know each other. We’re excited about that because it gives us a good base to build everything around.”
Graduation will have a large impact on the Bobcat defense this year. The team graduated six defensive players who had over 30 solo tackles. Those include Justin Green (90), Cole Fraizer (69), Kyle Lee (51), Devon Miller (43), Hunter Hurst (46) and Dylan Cox (38).
“Every year it seems like we lose somebody,” said Mills. “With the kids we did lose, they were great football players.”
The team returns three defensive starters that had close to 50 solo tackles — Humfleet (49), Nathan Collett (50) and Woolum (48). They will help lead a defense that only allowed two teams to score 21 points. Both games, which were against Corbin and Louisville Central, resulted in losses for the Bobcats.
This year, Bell County will start the year off attempting to avenge two straight losses to Middlesboro. Last year, the Yellow Jackets defeated the Bobcats 17-14.
An old rivalry will be revamped on Aug. 29, as Bell County travels to Boyle County. The last time the two teams met was in 2010. The Rebels defeated the Bobcats 25-21 in the semi-final round of the playoffs, halting Bell County’s undefeated season. Boyle County would go on to become state champions that year. Last season, the Rebels went 9-1 and advanced to the third round of the playoffs before losing 40-35 to Lexington Catholic.
Oct. 16 will mark another big game for the Bobcats as they host Corbin. Last season, Corbin beat Bell County 21-20 in overtime.
“The biggest thing is us and Corbin,” said Mills in a previous interview. “I feel like in our district, it’s going to come down to us and Corbin. We’ve been fortunate to beat them the last several years, and they got us last year. We just have to get back and take care of business in our district.”
Bell finishes the regular season hosting Harlan County on Oct. 30.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN