One game into the season it’s obvious the Bell County Bobcats are way ahead of where they were at this time last year. Bell avenged on of last season’s five losses in convincing fashion with a 35-7 win at South Pittsburg, Tenn., on Friday.
“Our kids played inspired football last week. Other than the first drive we pretty much shut them down and our offensive line did a great job,” Bobcat coach Wayne Mills said. “On offense everything clicked good, we just had a couple of turnovers we need to clean up. You could tell our kids were another year older and as the game went on you could tell we really wore them down.”
Senior Dylan Cox made a surprise return to playing along the defensive line on Friday. Mills said he has fully recovered from last year’s Tommy John surgery and has all of the strength back in his arm. The team rallied around Cox and he made his presence felt in the Pirate backfield for much of the game.
“He rushed that quarterback all night and had him scrambling. He might not have made a bunch of tackles but he made a lot of plays for other kids. He’s a big-time talent,” Mills said. “With all that he went through with the injuries last year, he deserves it. Dylan’s having a lot of fun right now and it makes me glad to see him with that smile on his face.”
The Bobcats return to action on Saturday when they take on Washington County in the Heart of Kentucky Pigskin Classic at Marion County High School.
The Commanders are coming off a 4-7 season in Class 2A, District 4. Saturday’s game will be their first of the season after last week’s scheduled game was cancelled due to weather. Coach Eric Sagrecy described this year’s team as ‘inexperienced but talented’ heading into the season.
Mills said Washington County is a bit of mystery to his staff.
“We feel like they’re a spread team. It kind of scares me a little bit because we’ve only seen tape of them from their scrimmage and I don’t know how much they showed. We may have to adjust on the fly,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re used to seeing the physicality up in that area that we bring. Hopefully that will be a big plus for us in the game and we’ll be ready to play. We don’t want to show up flat coming off a big win.”
Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff.
Elsewhere, the Pineville Mountain Lions open their season on Friday with a long trip to Hi Hat to play the South Floyd Raiders.
The Lions won last year’s game 38-24, but Pineville coach Bart Elam says the Raiders look to be a little better this year. South Floyd dropped their opener to Magoffin County last week 47-28 — last year they were shut out by Magoffin.
“Donnie Daniels has been there 20 or 30 years, talent-wise they go up and down but he’s a pretty good football coach,” Elam said. “He keeps it simple, coaches the fundamentals and keeps that program steady because of that. A lot of people don’t recognize it because they’re a smaller school — kind of like Pineville — but they’re usually 5-5 or 6-4, a solid Class A bunch.”
The Raiders have some familiar names as junior quarterback Hunter Johnson started against the Lions last season. Senior running backs Darren Tackett and Jacob Meade also played in last year’s game.
South Floyd typically lines up in the Wing T and tries to find space for their backs to run by using misdirection at the line of scrimmage.
“It’s a good game for us, especially early on, to see how we can stop the run. They don’t like to throw it much but they can run it well and do some complex blocking schemes that we’ll see the rest of the year. It will be a good gauge to see where we’re at,” Elam said.
Pineville ran for just over 300 yards against South Floyd a year ago. With five new starters along the offensive line, it will be interesting to see if they can have that same type of success this year with backs Bradley Fuson, Robbie Miller and Jordan Wombles.
Elam said his team is just ready to finally be playing someone besides themselves.
“I think we’re just ready to play. Not playing week zero when you’re used to playing it, and also having our two scrimmages in the same week and nothing last week, it’s kind of like a double bye. We’re ready to go play somebody else,” he said. “As far as the team goes, you don’t really know. You think you’ve got a handle on what you can do well and what you can’t. But there are things that always surprise you when you play that first game, both good and bad. I think everybody is ready to suit up, button up the chinstraps, go play and see what happens.”
The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at South Floyd.