Behind every good coach there’s a good team, and the Pineville Mountain Lions proved that this year. After a slow start, the team rebounded in the second half of the season to place second in the district and advance to the second round of the playoffs.
As a result, coach Bart Elam was named as the District 7 Coach of the Year while senior quarterback Tucker Woolum earned Player of the Year honors.
“Anytime you get a Coach of the Year, it’s always a players’ award in my book,” said Elam. “I don’t feel like that I’m any better than anybody else just because that I got good players. (The players) made an impact on somebody. When that happens the coaches get a little bit of credit for it, but they probably don’t deserve any of it.”
Woolum earned his award after having a terrific senior campaign. The quarterback led the team in both passing and rushing yards after tallying 2,018 yards through the air and 1,059 yards on the ground.
Woolum completed 54 percent of his passes while tallying 18 touchdowns. He averaged 168 passing yards and 88 rushing yards per game.
“Any time you coach a kid like Tucker Woolum, it was an amazing time for me. Most of the time, I just got to sit back and watch him play,” said Elam. “He started as a freshman, and that doesn’t happen a whole lot. Then he ends it off with rushing for 1,000 yards and throwing for 2,000 yards. People just don’t do that in the state. That’s truly an amazing feat.”
“The great thing about Tucker, he’s even a better kid off of the field. He’s a great leader, he’s a great role model to the other kids, and he’s a great family member and great community member. I’m really happy, not only for Tucker, but everybody else that was instrumental in him getting that award.”
Pineville started off slow to begin the year losing three of their first five games. The Mountain Lions lost two of those games — Middlesboro and Paris — on last second touchdowns.
Pineville finished the season winning three of their final five regular season games. Two of the three victories were against district opponents — Lynn Camp and Harlan. A 2-1 district record was good enough to earn the Mountain Lions second place in the district and a home playoff game.
Pineville defeated Jenkins 69-14 in the first round of the playoffs before falling to region runner-up Pikeville in the second round.
“I really feel like our team was playing the best football we could play at the end of the year,” said Elam. “We faced some adversity really early on in the year. We let emotions get the best of us in a couple of games, and then we really settled down and learned from mistakes and played a whole lot better.”
“That’s all you can ask for. I don’t know that…playing the best you can play is good enough to get it when you get in the second or third round of the playoffs. We’re going to have to get better across the board to compete with those state championship-type teams. We are happy that we were playing the best that we could play at the end of the year.”
Pineville will lose 12 players off this year’s squad: Will Adams, Thomas Brock, Phillip Bruner, Joe Collett, Kagan Johnson, Luke Kelly, Trent Lefevers, Nike Mason, Cameron Miracle, Kevin Sexton, Dilion Woodard and Woolum.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN