PINEVILLE — The Mountain Lions travel to Campbellsville tonight for a first round Class A playoff game. Pineville will have the chance to win the second postseason game in the last three years.
The Lions lost to the Eagles 28-12 in last year’s first round game at Campbellsville University, but coach Bart Elam says the experience from that trip should play to Pineville’s advantage this year.
“I think it really helps us quite a bit,” he said. “Our kids know what to expect, they know where they’ll be getting dressed and they’ve seen that atmosphere. It’s a plus for us.”
Campbellsville (4-6) has won three straight games to secure the number two seed from District 5. Pineville (5-5) is the three seed from District 6, but the Lions have been playing well. They’ve won four of their last six and their two losses were by a combined 13 points to Hazard and Harlan.
“This time of year you’ve got to go in confident. Sometimes that’s easier to do than others, but these kids feel like they can play with anybody,” Elam said. “If we lay an egg and let them jump on us, then we’ll be in for a dogfight. But the kids are confident they can match-up pretty well with Campbellsville.”
While the Lions don’t have a 1,000-yard rusher, they do have a very strong ground attack led by three diverse backs in Tanner Mike, Andrew Douglas and Connor Ford. Mike has taken to the tailback role and leads the team with 734 yards and eight touchdowns on 106 carries. Douglas is a bruising fullback and has a team-high 10 TDs to go along with 659 yards on 87 carries. Ford is a slasher that sees time at both backfield positions and the junior has run it 66 times for 569 yards and four scores.
Senior quarterback Jamie Roan helps keep the Lions balanced as he has completed 92-of-161 passes for 1418 yards and 20 touchdowns. Senior tight end Byron Asher is his favorite target with 31 catches for 464 yards and five scores. Senior receiver Jared Philpot has emerged as a big-play threat outside with 15 catches for 259 yards and six TDs. Mike, Ford and Douglas are all involved in the passing game as well along with Kyle Capps.
“We’re happy to be in the spot we are. Our fans have stuck with us and the team has gotten better each week,” Elam added.
He said Campbellsville brings plenty of speed into tonight’s game and they also try to be balanced on offense.
“They’ve been known for quite a few years to have a lot of speed and it’s no different this year,” Elam said. “They’ve got speed in the backfield and they run a lot of wishbone-type stuff but they’ve also got speed on the edges and they’re able to throw it.
“On defense they run an odd front and bring a bunch of different blitz packages that try to confuse the heck out of you. They’re head coach (Dale Estes) has been the defensive coordinator for a long time and they’re a very well-coached team.”
The Lions will be trying to keep their late-season momentum going tonight as the game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Campbellsville University.