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2019 Presents New Challenges, Opportunities for Commodores

photo by Brendon D. Miller - Bluegrass Sports Nation

‘Dores Open Friday Night in Hyden.

HAZARD – August 19, 2019 – Nathan Lyttle – Bluegrass Sports Nation

The 2019 football season kicks off this coming Friday Night for the Perry County Central Commodores. Following a string of poor seasons, 2018 was a great year for the team and fans. With reclassification shuffling around districts and regions across the state, this year presents several new challenges for the Dores.

In 2018, the Perry County Central Commodore football team won eight games, tying a school record. The team spent time ranked in the polls as both a top ten team in 5A and Eastern Kentucky. The Dores were in the hunt for a district title until the last district game of the season. By nearly every measurable standard, 2018 was a marquee year for the football program.

Coach Ovie Canady – photo by Brendon Miller

But as a new season draws closer, a lot of familiar faces won’t be wearing red and black along the sidelines of Commodore Field on Fridays. When asked how the Commodores could reload in 2019, Head Coach Ovie Canady was quick to point out there is work to be done. “Reload is a word you use when you have 80 kids,” Canady said. “It’s impossible to replace what we lost defensively.” Jacob Brown, 2018’s leading tackler in the state of Kentucky, leaves a big void on the defense to fill. Brown was also among the top of the state in sacks, racking up 11.5 for the season.

Senior linemen Noah Canady totaled 14 sacks in 2018. He looks to elevate his play and the play of his teammates. “I have to make sure I play my position correctly on offense and defense, but I also have to make sure everyone else knows does their job,” said Noah Canady. “We have a lot of experience on the defensive line, but there are some new people on offense.”

2019 Commodores – photo Cordis Bishop

Offensively, the Commodores lost maybe the best running back in the school’s history in Jayden Neace. Now a UPIKE Bear, Neace stayed at or near the top of the state’s rushing and touchdown leaderboards last year. “We have a lot of athletes on offense but there’s no other Jayden Neace,” said Coach Canady. “His leadership was second to none. We need that right now, but we just have to teach a lot of new kids a lot of new positions. It will be challenging but the kids will be fine by the time games roll around.”

While coaches and players work on the new personnel challenges the team faces, a reclassification to 4A offers the Commodores no favors. “It’s going to be tough,” said Canady. “(Johnson Central) is one of the best teams in the state, and opposite our district, if you did win are Corbin, Wayne, and Knox. Throw in Harlan County and that’s half your top ten in 4A.”

Even though the road to (and through) the playoffs looks as tough as ever, this year’s crop of seniors is looking forward to the challenge. “I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do as seniors,” said senior linemen Joey Griffie. “We’ve been playing against upperclassmen for three years now and it’s our time to lead the team.” 2019 means a little bit more for one senior, starting center Ben Gambill, who spent most of last season out of commission with a knee injury, “This means everything,” Gambill said. “I spent nine months in rehab trying to get back to this team.” Gambill had a message for his young teammates looking to make an impact. “Stay dedicated,” Gambill said. “Come to practice ready to work. Don’t come and goof off or loaf around. Try to make your team better and yourself better. Play hard for your coaches.”

The Commodores kick off the 2019 season Friday. They travel to Leslie County to take on the Eagles.

Bluegrass Sports Nation will provide weekly coverage of the Commodores throughout the season with weekly preview articles and game recap articles and pictures from the games by BSN photographer Cordis Bishop.

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