Hazard hosts Phelps on Friday Night
HAZARD – November 7, 2019 – JJ Baker – Bluegrass Sports Nation
The first time the Bulldogs and Hornets met during the regular season, the Bulldogs ran away with it, having a running clock for the entire second half. A Hazard win was really never in doubt as the Dogs racked up 387 yards of offense on the night and shut the Hornets down on defense, holding them to only 7 points in the final few minutes of the game. There was one major difference; that was the regular season and win or lose, both teams could still play again. Now, it’s playoffs and it’s win or go home. By beating the Hornets in week 9, the newly implemented playoff system has an in-district first 2 rounds. The Bulldogs were beaten by district rival Pikeville and the Panthers gained a first round bye and are waiting on the winner of the Hazard vs. Phelps game. After round 2 playoff rivals will be decided by the state RPI system.
Phelps will enter the game with a 4-6 record and have been on a two game losing streak starting back at week nine when they played Hazard. The Hornets have been very impressive with their ground attack this season. They have been led in rushing by their do-it-all back Dominic Francis. Francis has gained 1127 yards on the ground and has thrown for 66. Last week the Hornets broke from their traditional double wing set with Francis as the fullback and let him take some direct snaps from a wildcat formation. This has added a wrinkle into the Hornet’s offense and should create some diversity for Hazard to contend with. If the Hornets want to be successful they will have to be able to slow down the Bulldogs’ offense. It is very possible that they will have something special planned for the Bulldogs.
Hazard has put up 1408 yards passing this season behind the arms of Garrett Miller, Nick Miller, and Keaton Napier. They have completed 60% of their passes with 10 touchdown completions against 4 interceptions. The guys catching those passes have been led by Andrew Ford (433), Mason Collins (247), Reece Fletcher (185), Tyson Turner (177), Campbell Davis (107), and Trajon Campbell (103) On the ground the Bulldogs have gained 1322 yards and have been led by Trajon Campbell, Reece Fletcher, and Elijah Gayheart. With all things combined, the Bulldogs offense gained 2700 yards this season and put up 217 points (21.7 per game). On the defensive side of the ball, the Dogs have had big numbers out of several guys, too. Reece Fletcher (86, 2 TFL), Zane Deaton (63, 1 TFL), Hootie Thomas (59, 1 TFL, 5 Sacks), and Mason Collins (55, 1 TFL, 1 Sack) have led the way defensively. Zane Deaton has also been a ball hawk this season, always being active on plays and has been rewarded with 3 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries. The Bulldog secondary has seven interceptions on the season and all of them have come to a different defender. Max Johnson, Tyson Turner, Ryan Davidson, Andrew Ford, Mason Collins, Reece Fletcher, and Trajon Campbell all have 1 for the season. Hazard special teams has also had a bright spot on the season on the field goal squad and PAT team. Jonah Helm has hit 15/19 extra points and is 6/9 on field goals with his long being from 49 yards against Paintsville.
For the Bulldogs this game means something big. Most people will look at this game as a gimme for Hazard. Even though the Bulldogs are heavy favorites they need to approach this contest, and every other one for the rest of the season, as game not against an opponent, but a game against themselves. Hazard is yet to put together a perfect practice or game. Their focus from now till the end of the season needs to be on themselves playing THEIR best game, not playing good enough to beat their opponent. They have had a season that many teams would love to have, going 6-4 against a very good district and non-district schedule. On the year they have put up some big numbers, both offensively and defensively. They’ve also had somewhat of an “it” factor. That “it” has been pysicality. An unmeasureable stat that has been seen in every game except the Pikeville game. In that game the Bulldogs, for whatever reason, checked that physicality at the door. Moving forward they must find that “it” factor and feed it weekly to let it grow. The more it’s feed the bigger of a role it will play in their playoff run.
Kickoff is schedule, as always, for 7:30pm on the campus of Hazard High School and Daniel Field. Dress warm if you’re planning to attend as game temperatures may dip as low as the 20’s through the game. Check back in Saturday for a recap of Hazard’s 1st round game on BluegrassSportsNation.com as well as Kentucky Wildcat Basketball and Football, Louisville Basketball and Football, and NFL action. BSN would like to thank our sponsors Dr. Jim Caudill dentistry, and Hazard Village Flea Market.