October 31st, 2018 – Jackson, Kentucky – CASEY ALLEN-Bluegrass Sports Nation – Breathitt County Columnist
Kentucky High School Athletic Association football playoff brackets are made, and the tickets have been punched. All the stands between the playoff teams and a state championship is 5 more games. Half of those teams will be playing their final game of the 2018 season this Friday night, while the other half will move on to the quarterfinals.
The Breathitt County Bobcats have opened a lot of eyes this year winning 7 straight and bringing the District Crown back to the River Bank. This group of Bobcats are hungry for more. This Friday Night the Bobcats host the Raiders of McCreary Central who come in to the playoffs with a 1-9 record. To earn a playoff spot the Raiders had to beat a district opponent. Their lone win of the season came at the expense of Jackson County by a score of 40-14. Their prize? A trip to Jackson, Ky to take on the 7-3 Bobcats.
ESPN’s Jalen Rose says, “You are what your record says you are.” That may be true in many cases, but a team’s schedule also says a lot about them. McCreary Central has played teams such as Corbin, Bell County, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and have a common opponent with Breathitt…Perry County Central. Perry County Central bested both Breathitt(54-39) and McCreary Central(48-14).
Bluegrass Sports Nation covered both of those games. Although PCC won both contests, Breathitt and McCreary Central showed a lot of heart in their outings. McCreary Central proved to have several athletes who are fast and elusive. Ben Trammell and Chad Nolan both possess the ability to throw the ball down field, Caleb Cox is a threat in all three faces of the game for the Raiders. He returned a kick for touchdown against a stout Perry Central Defense earlier in the season. He also added a pick six that went 100 yards in that same game. Cox is also a leading tackler for the Raiders.
If McCreary Central is able to pull an upset on the River Bank, they will have to stop Breathitt’s dynamic offense. Braxton O’Hara has proven to be a dual threat quarter back all season. The Bobcats’ have a stable of running backs that have put up massive numbers this season in Tyson Gross and Dalton Manns. Brandyn Slaughter has captivated the Bobcat Nation as he has made incredible catches and torched opposing defenses all season long. None of these guys would have had the season they are having without the emergence of a solid offensive line. Chase Banks, Nick Shelton, Ethan Moore, Dusty Deaton, and Braxton Eiserman continue to improve and have controlled the line of scrimmage up front.
Defensively the Bobcats have continued their trend of bending but not breaking. Coach Kyle Moore and staff will tell you this group has come a long way but they must continue to improve on tackling if they want to be a serious threat in the post season. Tyler Patrick enters the post season ranked 4th in 3A in interceptions on the season. Patrick has become a shutdown corner back in the Bobcat Secondary, which allows Coach Moore and staff to dial up their blitz packages. With any defense it is important for each player to take care of their responsibility and this group of Bobcats have improved drastically in doing just that.
Breathitt’s bye week came at the right time, allowing the Bobcats to heal up before their playoff run. No one wants to see the Bobcats this time of year, especially on the River Bank. The Bobcats will be looking to make an emphatical statement this Friday, while McCreary Central is looking to end Breathitt’s season. No matter how you look at this matchup, no matter what happened in the regular season, the fact is both teams are now 0-0. It’s win or go home. For you seniors, this is your last ride. For you underclassmen, this is your chance to say thank you to those seniors. Who will band together, who will make the plays, and who will move on. Find out this Friday night as Bluegrass Sports Nation brings you all the coverage. You can stay connected by visiting our website at www.bluegrasssportsnation.com and liking our Facebook page.