We are excited to have our friends at Kroger on board as we bring you high school football coverage this fall. Each week Kroger will present the KSR High School Game of the Week. We will travel to the featured game each week to bring you the best sights, sounds and incredible moments. Together we’re happy supporters of “KY Proud Products” and the “Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.”
This week’s game is Belfry at Johnson Central. KSR caught up with Johnson Central radio commentator Scott Ratliff (@bscottratliff on Twitter) from wsipfm.com and Belfry play-by-play commentator Bobby Norman (@BobbyNorman17 on Twitter) from WDHR.com to preview the big matchup.
Johnson Central: Interview with Scott Ratliff
On the offensive line:
Johnson Central, their offensive line, they just whoop up on people. That is the main key, and it was last year. It all starts up front for them. They have three starters back from last year, Willis, Bingham, and Lemaster. They probably have 10 legit kids that can play offensive line. Grant Bingham, he is so quick for his size. The agility that he has. He is a smart football player. The speed and the ability to think of what is going to happen next is Bingham’s biggest thing. In the state championship game last year, he put on a show against Boyle County. He would be the one to lead the running back down the field. Just pushing them out of the way. He is strong, but agile.
On Dylan Preston:
He is just a beast. That is the best way that you can describe Dylan. He can get yardage without being touched. He is one of these running backs that doesn’t get tired. He does a lot of his damage after the first or second hit. He’s able to spin. Has great balance. Tough as nails. His whole family, his cousins and everybody (in his family) that has played football for Central, they have all been this way. He can catch the ball. Defensively he can read, he can blitz. He is just a hard-nosed, tough football player. He’s getting a lot of offers. The Armys, the Navys, a lot of the MAC Schools. Brown and Cornell have offered him. Not only is he tough on the field, he is a smart kid off it.
On Coach Jim Matney:
He’s a great motivator. He can take somebody from nothing and make them think that I can just run through and tackle anyone. He can have you believe that you are good enough. Of course, he’s a great, knowledgeable football coach. He knows how to fundamentally teach you how to play and he gets every bit of what a player would have in them out of them.
On the KSR Game of the Week:
Not just looking at Central but also you look at the tradition that Belfry. Coach Matney graduated from Belfry High School, that adds to it. Central is finally getting the recognition that they belong. Central will always keep a chip on their shoulder. With KSR being there, we are an affiliate, people know about KSR. They will get excited (with KSR) coming to little ole Johnson County. You don’t want to have all the hype and then not produce. This is going to be a big test for both teams.
Belfry: Interview with Bobby Norman
On Seth Mounts return from injury:
He is, in my opinion, one of the best linebackers in the state and I think the best linebacker in eastern Kentucky. He is a hard hitter and an excellent player. He makes a huge difference. He brings 2 to 3 years of starting experience as opposed to his replacement, which would be a first-year starter. [Mounts] has been a little bit injury prone and that concerns the folks at Belfry, but when he’s out there they are definitely a different defense.
On the importance of the Belfry – Johnson Central game:
It is a big rivalry game. Belfry needs a game to try to get some reps. The last couple weeks have been way too easy. There was virtually no resistance last week. They need a game and they are about as healthy as they have been. It is important to show that you can compete with Johnson Central. Last year Belfry didn’t compete with them. You want to see this (Belfry) team, which is a different team (from last year), compete and play as good as they can against a super Johnson Central team. The game is important for RPI purposes. In Class 3A there are four or five teams that kind of jump out at you. E’town, Ashland, don’t count out DeSales. Throw Belfry in there. I think that’s really the four that kind of jump out. If Belfry were to win this week the semifinals could be at home. If not, you may have to go to Ashland. You may have to go to E’town. This game Friday says a lot about what your path will be toward going to Lexington (for the state championship.)
On what to expect:
This is a line of scrimmage game. It is as good of physical offensive line teams as you will ever see. Two of the premier rushing teams in the state. Right up front is where these teams are built. They do not do what they do if they don’t have a good offensive line. Belfry has a good one. Johnson Central has an excellent one, obviously anchored by Bingham who is just a junior that everyone in the country is wanting. He is about as good of an offensive lineman as you will ever face. (Johnson Central’s) Dylan Preston is a fantastic running back. Whoever wins up front, barring if something really crazy happens, is going to win this football game.
On scheme changes implemented during the North Hardin game:
When Belfry played North Hardin, we saw them do something a little bit different. When Belfry does something different, even just a little bit, it is kind of big news. Belfry went with a more power package in their offense. After a couple drives, they moved Isaac Dixon, their fantastic halfback, to fullback. They added an extra offensive lineman with no wide-out. It allowed Dixon to be able to run multiple directions, out of the fullback. That is different because he always lines up as the left back halfback. Basically, that limits your playbook to sweeps to the right and always running to the right. Against Pikeville they overloaded the field and really contained Dixon that night. This now allows him to now visualize from the center and go to both sides of the field. The ball handling of quarterback Brett Coleman was great. He had a huge night against North Hardin. 3 touchdowns. Dixon had over 100 yards. It came down to a missed extra point of going into overtime against a super North Hardin team. Belfry played really well and North Hardin didn’t play bad. No turnovers by either team. Smash mouth football.
On other players that have stepped up:
Kyle Webb is a kid that is not real big, he’s been playing fullback but he can play halfback, he needs to continue to produce. On defense a couple of new guys have come in to make an impact. Zach Savage is one of those guys that bolsters the defensive line for Belfry. Rudy Blackwell is a young sophomore that started as a freshman. Really good instinct player. You have some guys that are healthy now. You have to stay healthy through Friday night. If you get through Friday night without any major injuries, then you set yourself up for the playoffs.