BARBOURVILLE — Despite playing without their leading returning receiver, the Pineville Mountain Lions held their own in dropping three close games at a 7-on-7 passing tournament at Union College on Wednesday.
The Lions opened with a 3-0 loss to Pulaski Southwestern, then fell to Knox Central 17-13 before finishing round-robin play with a 21-14 loss to Middlesboro on a late touchdown. Teams were awarded seven points for each touchdown pass with the defense earning three points for an interception.
“We’re missing Will Adams and we’ve got a lot of people playing out of position so we’re excited,” Pineville coach Bart Elam said. “The defense has played great all day and I’m real happy with the way we caught the football and passed the football with what we had on the offensive side.”
Junior fullback Robbie Miller stood out. He was repeatedly able to find open space down the seams and scored all three of the Lions’ touchdowns on long passes from quarterback Tucker Woolum.
“He’s our fullback and we had to move him to tight end and fill in at the Y with Will gone. He’s never caught passes and he did a good job. We had a lot of people step in and do some good things,” Elam added.
Bradley Fuson, Nike Mason and Joseph Simpson also showed they can be effective with the ball out in space and teamed with Woolum and Lawrence Simpson to play strong defense most of the day as Pineville stayed competitive against larger schools.
Elam said the team’s first week of practice has been going well and right now the team has a roster of 23 players, which is close to where they’ve been the past several years.
“The first week at Pineville is a lot different than the first week everywhere else. You’re trying to find the best places for everybody and there’s a lot of decisions you have to make about which positions each kid can play,” he said. “The pieces are starting to fall into place and we’re excited about getting a full week in next week and getting on down the road.”
Pineville returns most of their skill position players outside of the graduated Conner Ford and Dalton Ledbetter but will have to develop some linemen on both sides of the ball after losing six seniors that started most of the time up front.
“We’re going to be young there, but I think they can become a good unit,” Elam said. “There’s a lot of trial and error with them and it’s a work in progress but we’re happy with where they are right now.”