They’re 2-4 but the schedule has been a bear.
MHS opened the season with a lopsided loss to Tennessee power Alcoa. They came back the next week to pull out a win over 5A Letcher Central and then lost a heartbreaker in the final minute at Clay County.
The Jackets bounced back with a home win over Lee High, Va., then suffered a physical beat-down at 4A Knox Central.
Middlesboro was down six starters the following week as they lost at Frankfort so last week’s open date couldn’t have come at a better time for the Jackets.
Coach Randy Frazier said the focus was getting back to the fundamentals and on trying to get healthy for district play.
“We got back to blocking and tackling and the big thing about our bye week is, hopefully, we can get healthy,” he said. “Stumpy (Josh Delauer) is still going to be questionable, but just about everybody else should be back.
“The last game we played we had six starters out and you just can’t play football like that when you don’t have the depth and have to go really young.”
One player who won’t be back is receiver/back-up quarterback Sean Frost who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Knox Central.
“That’s tough,” Frazier said. “That’s the second or third kid we’ve lost for the season and we’ll really miss the speed that Sean brought to the team and the things that he can do.”
The Jackets have had a couple of other kids to quit the team over the past couple of weeks but anything they’ve lost they should be able to replace with the expected return of receiver/defensive back Thomas Epperson and the emergence of some younger players.
Against Frankfort the four MHS touchdowns were scored by a sophomore (Zach Riddle) and two freshmen (Austin Poindexter and Donnie Foister).
“We’re going to play with the kids who want to play and want to go here,” said Frazier. “Riddle (11 catches for a team-high 298 yards and 7 TDs) has done an excellent job this year. Our last game we had some freshmen step up. Donnie Foister and Austin Poindexter both caught some balls (and scored touchdowns).
“DeShawn Harris and Evan Womack have shown they can play out there and getting Epperson back is big for us.”
Junior quarterback Chase Roark has completed 75-of-128 passes on the season for 1182 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s spread the ball around with completions to ten different receivers.
“We’ve got kids who can get out there and catch some balls for us. So we’re pretty solid there,” Frazier said. “Its up front and defensively where we’re been hurting with a lot of our injuries.”
Friday at 7:30 p.m. they open district play at home against Leslie County. The Eagles are also 2-4 under first year coach Eddie Melton but are coming off a win over Shelby Valley.
The winner will get a big leg up toward hosting a playoff game and will in line to play Corbin with a district championship on the line.
“They’ve got eleven kids who fly to the football, they play hard. I told our kids: We’ve got to come out ready to play or this bunch will beat you,” Frazier said. “They’ve got two wins and we’ve got two wins. I think our schedule might have been a little tougher. But really we’re both 0-0 because we haven’t played any district games yet. Hopefully we’ll come out ready to play.”