With the playoffs starting tonight, it’s a new season for the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets. Coach Randy Frazier has said his sophomore-dominated squad can’t be called young anymore and they’ll have an opportunity to show how much they’ve grown with a challenging first round game at Prestonsburg.
“It would be very big for us to go up there and have a good showing. If we play a great game we feel like we can come out with a win,” Frazier said. “We’ve got to finish — if we’re in the game and have a lead in the fourth quarter then defensively we have got to close it out. We let a couple get away but if we play like we did the last two or three weeks then we should be in the ball game.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us. We’re at a level right now where we feel like we can compete with the Somersets, Danvilles and Prestonsburgs so the pressure is on our shoulders go and make it happen.”
Middlesboro is 4-6, but finished strong as they put a scare into both Somerset and Danville before blowing out Lynn Camp in the season finale.
Prestonsburg has won five of their last six games to improve to 7-3. The Blackcats use a balanced attack out of the spread formation that makes them tough to contain on offense.
“They’ve got a really good quarterback in Jarredd Jarrell and he’s more of a threat to pull it down and run with it this year so having that double-threat makes them dangerous,” said Frazier.
Jarrell has completed 134-of-218 passes for 2612 yards and 27 touchdowns and ran for 477 yards and 12 TDs. Grant Anderson has run for 451 yards and four scores and caught 56 passes for 1101 yards and 11 TDs. Bryson Williams leads the outside receivers with 40 catches for 913 yards and 12 TDs.
“The key for us outside of the travel — it’s a long, hard trip and we’ll have to overcome that — but we’ve got to control the football and not have any turnovers,” said Frazier. “Defensively we have to stop the quarterback. They’ve got three really good players in Jarrell, running back Grant Anderson, and receiver Bryson Williams. It’s going to be tough to stop all three of them, but our defense has to step up and play a good game.”
Controlling the ball will be a surging running game led by sophomores Parker Uhl, Seth Barton and Jake Brock. Uhl leads the Jackets with 765 yards on 139 carries and seven touchdowns. Barton has four TDs run and 451 yards on 88 carries while Brock has added 155 yards on 29 attempts with two TDs.
Sophomore quarterback Major Edwards 244 yards and seven scores on the ground while helping keep the offense balanced by completing 68-of-111 passes for 992 yards and seven more TDs. Junior Austin Poindexter leads a balanced receiving corps with 27 catches for 330 yards and three touchdowns.
“I can’t thank Knox Central enough for letting use their indoor facility on Tuesday. The weather really hasn’t affected us too much, all-in-all it’s been a good week of practice,” Frazier said.
Middlesboro’s game at Prestonsburg kicks off at 7:30 p.m. tonight.