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Breathitt Football – A Retrospective Look Ahead – Game 7 – District Continues.

Looking back at Middlesboro then ahead to Morgan County

October 2, 2019 – Fletcher Long – Bluegrass Sports Nation

Last week the Bobcats took the long and winding bus trip to Middlesboro, Kentucky to play a Yellowjacket team very highly regarded and 4-1 on the year. The Bobcats came off the bus ready to play. This week the Morgan County Cougars will visit the River Bank.

A look back at Middlesboro…
On my way to Hazard traveling to work Monday, after the Middlesboro game, the lady who sells me my morning “cup of Joe” asked me when Breathitt was going to play “somebody.” I told her “Madame, really good teams make somebodies look like nobodies.” 

That was the case Friday night in Middlesboro, Kentucky. By the end of the year, all of the KHSAA will learn (we believe) the Bobcats routed a really good football team in game 6 in beating Middlesboro 57-7.

Probably the biggest culprits of turning teams into “nobodies” this year has been the Breathitt defense. Jabari Kyle entered the game averaging 160-yards a night on the ground and against Breathitt he gained 7-yards. The Middlesboro offense was averaging 30 points a game and managed 7. The Middlesboro offense was averaging over 300 total yards of offense per game and, against Breathitt’s defense, managed 149-yards of total offense in 35-plays. Middlesboro, a team which was averaging 234 yards per game on the ground, ran for just 37. 

The Breathitt Nobody Defense has done it to teams all of 2019. Senior Ladaniel Whitaker was the First National Bank defensive player of the game and had a huge impact. Whitaker had 7 tackles, 4 solos, with 2 TFLs, including one for a safety on a play where the NG knocked Middlesboro’s center clear back into the running back attempting to escape the end zone on a play designed to run up the middle.

BSN would also mention Tim Spencer had a strong game in spite of only registering 2 solo tackles. Spencer does things which don’t show up in a stat sheet, like when he absolutely killed the QB on an option pitch. There was a second play where Spencer knocked the QB’s helmet off his head when he recorded one of the team’s two QB sacks. We will call these intimidation plays and Spencer does it regularly.

Teams are beginning to run away from “Boss” Hogg and who can blame them? Caden Hogg, all 6-5, 240-pounds of him, had 4 solos, an assist and a tackle for a loss on the night regardless. Senior CA “Geeny” Collins had 4 solos, 1 TFL, and the other QB-sack while junior NG, William Long, had 4 solos, 4 assists, 3 TFLs and forced a fumble to continue his strong defensive performances lately.

Lane Weddle was a factor for the Bobcats in all phases of the football game, kicking (where he was brilliant), punting (again, brilliant), offense, and defense. Defensively he had 7 tackles, 4 of them solos, and recovered the football Long stripped out of the RB’s hands.

The back-end picked off three passes on the night. The interceptions were registered by Jaylen Turner, Brandyn Slaughter, and Marcus Oliver. 
We do want to mention that Lane Weddle punted a ball that Blake Ritchie hustled down the field and downed between the 1 and 2-yard lines which resulted in the defense recording a safety on the very next snap. Weddle and Ritchie deserve as much credit for the safety as anyone. The downed punt, deep in Yellowjacket territory, is just another example of the type of effort the team routinely exerts and why they are undefeated this year. 

Offensively, the Bobcats are just a machine. Junior starting QB, Braxton O’Hara, was a scratch on the night with back issues. Sophomore, Jaylen Turner, was pressed into action.  Turner responded with 123-passing yards with a pair of 45-yard TD passes to Lane Weddle and Jacob Noble. Weddle also returned a kick-off 43 yards for a score. Like we above said, Lane Weddle had one heck of a night.

Senior CA “Geeny” Collins was brilliant, yet again. Collins gained 182-yards rushing in only 10 carries with 4 rushing TDs. The team gained 288 yards in only 26 carries with 6 rushing TDs on the evening all told. Like the defensive counterparts, the “Big Blue Wave (offensive line…Spencer, Smith, Long, Newcombe/Messer, and Deaton) completely dominated the line of scrimmage all night and the backs and receivers do a good job of getting down field and stalk blocking 2nd and 3rd level defenders. There is a reason we break so many “home-run” scoring jaunts. Everyone is physical, everyone plays every snap, even the backs and receivers take pride in clearing a path for each other. 

The Breathitt offense, with Turner at the controls, gained 411 total yards in only 37 offensive plays in accounting for 8 TDs (6 rushing, 2 passing, 1 KO not counting as an offensive TD). That is 11.11 yards per play on the night. Folks, that is cooking.

A look ahead to Morgan County
We will be the first to acknowledge Morgan County is very likely to have a long night on the River Bank this coming Friday. They are 0-5 on the year. Morgan doesn’t post its statistics on the KHSAA website so there isn’t much we can tell you about them personnel wise. 

In going 0-6, they have only scored 44 points on the year and have allowed 265. The Cougars have been dropped by Rowan County (55-0), lost to Betsy Lane (46-30), were blanked by East Carter (49-0), had Nicholas County hang half-a-hundred on them (50-0), before losing, this past Friday night, to Knott County Central (27-8). Look for the Bobcats to run the 2019 record to 7-0 before taking the team’s first off week. 

Final Analysis
These two teams are far from equally matched and it is likely the Bobcats will win this game going away and move to 7-0. 

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