Jackets battle Danville for district supremacy
by Jay Compton Sports Editor
Fresh off their first district win in two seasons, the Middlesoro Yellow Jackets will be looking for an even bigger one tonight. The Jackets travel to Danville to take on the Admirals. Both teams won their district openers so the winner clinches a home playoff game and will be all alone in first place.
“We’re approaching this as the district championship, I really don’t think you can approach it any other way. The kids seem to embrace that, but at the same time we’ve not been there so it’s a question mark going in,” Jacket coach Randy Frazier said. “I worry about the travel. I’ve worried about the travel since we’ve been in this district. But we have to take all those things in stride and go play our best game.”
Danville (4-3, 1-0) has won three straight games, including last week’s unexpected 35-23 victory over Somerset. The Ads average 26.1 points per and 315 yards per game and will present a tough challenge for the Jacket defense.
“They’re athletic as can be, they’ve got a lot of speed and their big up front. Just your typical Danville team,” Frazier said. “They’ve got it going now under their new coach Clay Clevenger running the split-back veer. They struggled early, but they played some real good teams. They’re as good as they were last year and it’s going to take a great effort for us to make that trip up there and win the football game.”
The Admirals had two 100-yard rushers last week at Somerset, Olyjawan Ford and Jawan Grey. Grey has rushed for 878 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Ford has 352 yards and three TDs.
Quarterback Zack Dampier threw two touchdown passes last week, and he now has 603 yards and six touchdowns on the season.
Middlesboro averages 38 points and 402 yards per game and have shown the ability to win with either the running or passing game.
Ryan Pittman leads the Jackets with 696 yards and eight touchdowns while Seth Barton has added for 510 yards and 12 TDs.
Senior Donnie Foister will start again at quarterback. Over the last three-plus games he’s thrown for 714 yards and six touchdowns since taking over when junior Major Edwards hurt his ankle against Harlan.
“Right now Donnie will start at quarterback, Major will probably get some reps to see where he is with his ankle. Major still has a very small limp, he’s probably 90-95 percent,”Frazier said. “We feel like we’re going to go with Donnie and if he gets in trouble or anything happens we’ve got Major right there. Then we’ll re-evaluate it again next week and go from there.”
Edwards returned to limited action last week and played linebacker. That fills a need for the Jackets after Jason Napier was lost for the season to a knee injury against Pikeville.
“Jason Napier, we lost him for the year at Pikeville to a torn ACL and MCL. That really hurts our football team, he’s the third kid we’ve lost defensively. Other kids have stepped in and done a great job,” Frazier said. “With Major he can play there, at quarterback there are a lot of timing issues that you have to get down. Defensively, you’ve just got to be tough. At linebacker he can just go an hit somebody and he’s ready to do that. I think he’ll be back to 100 percent in the next two weeks and going into the playoffs and that’s just going to help us.”
Tonight’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in Danville.
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