Mountain High School Football Preview
Returning Stat Leaders
Passing (By Yards)
Eric Manning (Somerset) – 158/302 (52.3%), 2372 Yards, 28 TDs, 14 Ints.
Zach Eastham (Pulaski Co.) – 148/224 (66.1%), 2197 Yards, 24 TDs, 8 Ints.
Jon Combs (Hazard) – 135/214 (63.1%), 2118 Yards, 22 TDs, 7 Ints.
Chase Roark (Middlesboro) – 116/249 (46.6%), 1752 Yards, 15 TDs, 12 Ints.
Logan Johnson (Letcher Cent.) – 116/212 (54.7%), 1707 Yards, 18 TDs, 7 Ints.
Rushing (By Yards)
Clarke Rowe (Rockcastle Co.) – 284 Car., 2107 Yards, 7.4 YPC, 26 TDs
JJ Jude (Johnson Central) – 243 Car., 1906 Yards, 7.8 YPC, 16 TDs
Cory Davenport (Bell Co.) – 207 Car., 1820 Yards, 8.8 YPC, 29 TDs
Tyler Vaughn (S. Laurel) – 224 Car., 1419 Yards, 6.3 YPC, 14 TDs
Casey Adkins (Betsy Layne) – 120 Car., 1139 Yards, 9.5 YPC, 12 TDs
Receiving (By Yards)
Storm Wilson (Somerset) – 56 Rec., 976 Yards, 11 TDs
Joseph Jamerson (P’burg) – 52 Rec., 839 Yards, 10 TDs
Jeffery Canady (Knox Cent.) – 40 Rec., 808 yards, 10 TDs
Jordan Olinger (Hazard) – 49 Rec., 807 Yards, 7 TDs
Darryl Beatty (Perry Cent.) – 38 Rec., 673 Yards, 10 TDs
Dudley Hilton (Bell County) – 332-100
Philip Haywood (Belfry) – 327-114
Tom Larkey (Harlan County) – 249-95
Mike Holcomb (Breathitt Co.) – 240-87
Pulaski or Bust
There are several counties that boast strong football programs, but none are better as a group than Pulaski. Pulaski County, Somerset and Southwestern will all be excellent this season. The three teams combined for a 31-9 record with 2 teams claiming Region titles. This year should be no different. The Maroons and Briar Jumpers return many of their skill players while the Warriors could show some big improvement.
The two most improved teams in the Mountains can possibly both be found along 25E. That would be Knox Central and Pineville. The Panthers return almost every starter from a team that went 7-5 a year ago. A healthy Jeffery Canady should help Knox Central as well. The Mountain Lions could see that goal of hosting a home playoff game come to be. They return leading rusher Cody Hendrickson (1,003 Yards 13 TDs) and leading receiver Eric Raby (35 Rec., 374 yards). Watch for both teams to cause problems.
There are a couple of new faces in the Mountains this season. Here is a list:
Chris McNamee (Pikeville)
Tom Searcy (Knott Central)
Eddie Melton (Leslie County)*
Randy Frazier (Middlesboro)
Mike Whitaker (Letcher Central)
Justin Haddix (Perry Central)*
*- First time head coach
The Mountains have been home for the past couple of seasons to a few kickers who had a strong leg. Keep your eye on Patrick Knuckes (Middlesboro) and Zach Burgyvanhoose (Pikeville). Both can crush it.
Bell County Quarterback Ben Madon may not have as many yards as some of the other qbs in the area, but he might be the most efficient. Madon threw 17 touchdown passes with only 2 interceptions in 107 attempts. That’s a touchdown pass every 6.3 throws.
I’ll take a “W” Pat
The Bell County Bobcats have clearly been the best team in the Mountains over the past 3 years. The Bobcats are 39-3 in that time with a State Title in 2008.
3 Times a Champion
The team with the longest current Region title streak is Hazard. The Bulldogs have won 3 straight Region titles. A fourth straight is within reach this season as well.
New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
The Pikeville Panthers will open the season with a new head coach for the Fourth Straight Season. But Chris McNamee is no stranger. He was the head coach at Pikeville from 199-2004 where he led the Panthers to 3 State Semifinals Appearances.
Where did Everybody Go?
Every year several teams are hit hard by graduation, but few were hurt as bad Shelby Valley and Allen Central on the ground. Valley lost over 4400 yards and 36 touchdowns rushing. Central lost over 4300 yards and 53 TDs.
~ Jeff Archer