LOG MOUNTAIN — Bell County’s exciting 32-31 overtime win at Bryan Station on Friday was a costly one, as senior quarterback Corey Oslonian was lost for at least three weeks with a knee injury.
Bobcat coach Wayne Mills said Oslonian saw a doctor Monday and will have an MRI Wednesday to determine the extent of the injury.
“He’s out this week for sure. From what the doctor said, we’re hoping it’s just an MCL and he’ll be able to get back within three weeks or so,” Mills said. “We’ll find out for sure Wednesday, but we’re hoping for the best.”
The Bobcats turned to freshman Peyton Collett for the second half of Friday’s game and he figures to step into the quarterback spot for as long as Oslonian is out.
Collett benefited from some extra playing time in the preseason — he started in the SEKC Gridorama against Harlan and also got a lot of work with the first team in practice while Oslonian dealt with a minor injury.
“Peyton is very mature for a freshman and those reps this summer helped him a lot. The kids have confidence in him and they rallied around him. He did a good job for us (Friday),” Mills said. “You hate to say it, but you’ve got to move on. It’s part of this business. He’ll lead our team and the seniors will step up behind him.”
Collett has the luxury of stepping in to a pretty good situation with Bell leaning heavily on their running game behind the blocking of an outstanding offensive line in Tan Hudson, Hunter Marcum, Jonathan Burnett, Tyler Mills and Cody Griffin.
Senior running backs Ryan Collett and Jonathan Polly both surpassed 100 yards on the ground in Friday’s win and sophomore Austin Caldwell also had a touchdown run.
“Our offensive line was really getting a good push. Those five individuals just did a super job,” Mills said. “We’ll have to ride those guys going forward.”
That line, along with tight ends Brandon Spade and Dylan Cox, fullback Shane Lawson, as well as Polly and Collett blocking for each other helped the Bell ground game roll to over 300 yards. The Bobcats aren’t likely to face a stiffer test than they’ve seen in the season’s first two weeks until the regular season finale at Harlan County.
Still, Friday’s contest came down to overtime. It was eerily reminiscent of a game two years ago, when Mills’ Knox Central Panthers went for the conversion in OT in early season bowl game against Johnson Central at Clay County. On that day the conversion failed, but Mills said Friday’s call was an easy decision.
“We had the momentum at the time, the kids wanted to go for two and we had just scored pretty easily (Ryan Collett went ten yards for the TD on Bell’s first overtime play),” he said. “We were getting six and seven yards per play and I just felt like it was the right thing to do. The kid’s executed it great.”
Polly’s conversion plunge over the right side secured Bell’s first win of the season.
As The Herald-Leader’s Mike Fields astutely pointed out in his story on the game, this season has started out much like last year did for the Bobcats.
After dropping a close opener to Lexington Catholic last year, Bell defeated Lafayette in the iHigh Football Frenzy to start a string of 11 straight wins.
Mills says Friday’s win can have the same effect on this year’s team.
“This will define our season, just like it did last year,” he said. “We’ll come together and have a great year.”
Bell County (1-1) hosts Middlesboro Friday night in the late game of the City/County Bowl.