Not much has gone wrong for the Bell County Bobcats over the first two games of the season. They’ve outscored South Pittsburg, Tenn., and Washington County by a combined 76-20 and 13 of those points came against their JV defense.
They step up the level of competition this week when they host 5A Whitley County (0-2) in their home opener on Friday.
Bell County has had their way with the Colonels in the series in recent years, but the last two games have been decided by just seven points each. Whitley struggled with injuries last season and limped to a 1-10 record, but have a new coach this season in former Middlesboro offensive coordinator Jason Chappell.
“Whitley is a much improved football team from what they showed last year. If you look at history Bell and Whitley have always had battles, it seems like they play us harder than anybody,” Bobcat coach Wayne Mills said. “They’ve got a familiar coach in Jason Chappell, who coached at Middlesboro the last few years. He knows a lot about us and he’s got a very good offensive mind.”
Chappell has installed a spread formation at Whitley and the team moved the ball successfully in last week’s 41-20 loss at Madison Southern. Senior quarterback Luke Woods completed 9 of 14 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a score.
“They’ve got a very good quarterback in Luke Woods, he’s one of the faster kids we’ll see all year,” Mills added. “It’s a big challenge for us but we’re looking forward to it being at home against a quality opponent.”
On advantage Bell County should enjoy is the fact they’ve gone against the spread in both of their games so far this season.
“We worked a lot on that this summer because we were getting ready for South Pittsburg so our kids have seen it,” Mills said. “There’s not a whole lot you can do against it defensively, we’ve got certain packages and coverages we’ve just got to rep them and get better.”
With seniors Austin Caldwell, Evan Brock and junior Chase Woolum leading the way the Bobcats have found their usual success on the ground. Junior quarterback Peyton Collett has stepped up in the passing game with weapons such as Cole Frazier and Hayden Gilbert also making plays to give Bell a more diverse look.
Mills says he is most concerned with the team improving their execution each week.
“We’re installing more plays each week and trying to add wrinkles from the week before. My biggest thing is I don’t want them thinking, I want them just reacting as they play. When you get them reacting, they play better and harder,” he said. “That’s what I think we got better at this week, just getting off the ball faster. We’re just looking for more consistency on offense, staying on blocks and not missing assignments. On defense we tackled better.
“We’ve still got a lot to improve on, the film doesn’t lie. We’re just challenging our kids to improve each week at their position.”
Friday’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Log Mountain.