LOG MOUNTAIN — Bell County has six straight wins in their series with Whitley County, and the last five meetings haven’t been very close. But Coach Wayne Mills isn’t about to let his Bobcats overlook the Colonels this Friday.
“I think our kids realize we still have a lot to get better at. As a coach I’m not going to let them — I’ll be mean to them before I let them get complacent,” he said. “This senior bunch has bigger goals and they know that you have to practice hard each week to get better. We don’t have the talent that we can just show up and win, we have to prepare and our kids understand that.”
While Bell (2-1) is coming hot after last week’s 50-6 win over Middlesboro, Whitley (1-1) is also riding high after shutting down Rockcastle County 28-0 last Friday.
The Colonels run a lot of triple-option out of a spread wing-t. Senior fullback Boston Bryant is one of the top power backs in the area, quarterback Austin Ysidro is a good decision-maker, junior Austin Hopper and freshman Zack Mills are both capable of busting loose for big plays on pitches and Tilman Jackson gives Whitley a downfield threat in the passing game.
Mills has had his defense hard at work this week getting ready to defend the option.
“Boston Bryant is a heck of a player. Then you’ve got Ysidro at quarterback and they’ve got a couple of nice little halfbacks they get into the sweep and option looks,” Mills said. “There’s nobody else on our schedule that runs that offense and I don’t know if there are any other teams in our area that run it. They’ve kind of got the upper hand on people and they do a really good job of executing their plays.”
The key is being able to contain Bryant inside without taking attention away from the pitch men. In last week’s win Bryant ran for 50 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries while Hopper gained 96 on just six runs and Mills added 94 yards on five.
Bell will have to play disciplined, assignment football on defense.
“Big time. Somebody’s got to take the quarterback, somebody’s got to take the dive, somebody’s got to take the pitch. If you stick your nose down there, that quarterback is smart enough to pull it and get up on the next level,” Mills said. “We’ve got to make sure all of our ‘p’s and ‘q’s are ready because Boston, you’ve got to gang-tackle him. There’s not one guy that’s going to take him down.”
Jonathan Polly ran for 236 yards a TD while Ryan Collett added 189 yards and four touchdowns for the Bobcats in last week’s big win. Freshman quarterback Peyton Collett showed he can capably fill in for the injured Corey Oslonian, completing 4-of-6 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
“Our backs are running hard and blocking good for each other. I though Peyton played a good ballgame. He’s not playing like a freshman and that’s a good thing for us,” said Mills.
The Colonels held Rockcastle to just 42 yards rushing and 116 in total offense in last week’s shutout. So they could present a challenge to the Bobcat rushing game.
“I’m sure they’ll stack the box up in there because we’ve been running the football a lot. We’ll probably see some eight-man fronts — we’ve got to be ready for anything,” Mills said. “This our fourth game and we’ve probably seen three different defenses, we’ll adjust as we go.”
Bell’s defense was even more impressive as they limited Middlesboro to 26 yards on 24 carries and 33 yards through the air. So the Bobcats will look to continue that momentum as they seem to be hitting their stride.
“We knew we had the capability of being a pretty good team. There’s still a lot of football left and there are still things I’m not satisfied with yet. But our kids’ attitude is good,” Mills added. “I thought Friday night we really took a step forward against Middlesboro with our effort. I thought our kids really played hard defensively and I think our offensive line is starting to get together. Those are some new guys starting and they’re doing a better job with having chemistry with each other.”
Friday’s game on Log Mountain kicks off at 7:30 p.m.