A failed two-point conversion was the difference in a win and loss for Garrard County in its district opener at Bath County last week.
So coach Mark Scenters said there is no need for the Golden Lions (2-3, 0-1 Class AAA, District 5) to panic going into another district road game Friday at Powell County.
“Honestly, our guys gave a very good effort this past week. That is the biggest compliment that I can give my players right now, is that they play so hard and give great effort. When you are losing games by one point, it is easy to question different things and second-guess certain situations, but no one can question the effort that our kids play with,” Garrard coach Mark Scenters said. “We've got to do some things better. Protect the ball better. Cut out mistakes at crucial times. But overall our team is playing better each week; we just have to put it all together at the same time and go out and find a way to win.”
The Pirates (1-4, 1-0) got their first win last week, a 48-44 district-opening victory at Estill County. Before that, they had been outscored by an average of 32.5 points per game in losses to Pikeville, Pike County Central, Lewis County and Madison Southern.
Powell is averaging 23 points and 305 yards per game.
“They are a different team in many ways. They continue to run the wishbone belly read system that coach (Tony) Burchett is so good at, but they also have incorporated a lot of spread concepts into their offense,” Scenters said. “They have the ability to be very multiple on the offensive side of the ball, and new offensive coordinator Keenan McWhorter is doing a very good job with their offense.”
Quarterback Matt Brooks is 45 for 99 for 827 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he has also run for four touchdowns.
“(Brooks) is a very dangerous player, and he runs as well as he passes,” Scenters said.
Brett Goodwin had 22 catches for 491 yards and four touchdowns, and Brett Thompson has 12 receptions for 239 yards and two touchdowns.
Chance Snowden has rushed for 231 yards and Kienan Tiller has 186, and Scenters said both came up big last week.
“Tiller and Snowden were very effective running the belly option this past week in the Estill County game,” Scenters said.
Powell’s defense is giving up 48.2 points per game.
“Defensively, they have shown to be running a 5-2 defensive scheme,” Scenters said. “They are very quick defensively and play hard and aggressively.”
The Golden Lions are averaging 21 points and 287 yards per game, and are giving up averages of 18 points and 229 yards.
Noah Williams has rushed for 402 yards and two touchdowns, Jaylan McPherson has 169 yards and two scores and Garrett Caudill has 133 yards and two touchdowns for Garrard.
Quarterback Billy Abney is 29 of 63 for 446 yards and three touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception. he has also rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
Jacob Smith is Garrard’s leading receiver with six catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns, and Layne Cumby has eight grabs for 63 yards, and Cumby has also rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Garrard has forced 10 turnovers (five fumble recoveries and five interceptions). Slade Crutchfield has picked off two passes and returned both for touchdowns, and J.T. Lyon has recovered two fumbles.
Caudill has a team-high 40 tackles, and Ronnie Saylor has 33. Dylan Worley leads the team with 2 1/2 sacks and Justin Sparks, Dustin Keller and Antonio Harvey all have two sacks.
Garrard averages 190 yards rushing per game, and Scenters said the Lions need to keep the ball against Powell, but will definitely take a big play if it is there.
“It is important for us to control the tempo, but I think we certainly like to see our kids’ big-play ability starting to emerge as well. This year in particular we have many long sustained drives, drives that we need to make sure we capitalize on with some sort of points on the board every time,” Scenters said. “That comes from protecting the football and execution. We have seen the last couple weeks Jacob Smith beginning to show his big-play ability as a receiver and becoming a legitimate mid-range and deep threat. We believe we have more guys capable of doing the same thing. We have been so close in recent weeks to breaking a big play in the running game.
“Noah Williams nearly popped a long run against Bath. Jaylan McPherson continues to improve and reveal his ability each week. We have lots of kids capable of making plays on this team. We want to see them make plays.”