The reigning state champ Pikeville Panthers come in ranked No. 1 in the KSR Class A rankings. We caught up with Jim Williamson to preview the Panthers ahead of the KSR Game of the Week vs. the undefeated Sayre Spartans. Jim will be calling the radio for the game on 98.1 FM musicradiowpke.com. Follow him on Twitter @EastKyBlue.
On the Panthers’ 5-2 regular season:
I know Coach (Chris) McNamee wanted to play more games. We got seven in and really had to scratch and claw to get those. We played an aggressive schedule. Chris always likes to play good teams because they show your weaknesses. We graduated 37 players over the last two years, so it was basically a new team (this year) with Isaac McNamee and Zac Lockhart. You had so many new guys having to step into roles. They have really done a great job, but you just wish they had a few more games under their belt to get them that experience.
We are mostly in good shape. The one we lost early (in the year) was Carson Wright, and that happened to be our best player and he is done until next year. We haven’t played in three weeks, so we have healed up.
On Pikeville QB Isaac McNamee:
He had four Division 1 college receivers to throw to last year. This year he has (Zac) Lockhart as the main one. When you only have one guy to throw to, until the other guys get used to it and step up, defenses adjust. McNamee’s numbers are not quite the numbers that he had last year but he still looks as good. He’s still accurate. Friday night you have two junior quarterbacks that are very good. It is going to be fun to watch them go head to head.
On Sayre junior QB Cole Pennington:
You have to get pressure on him. He’s so accurate. Over 70% completion rating. You have to make him move around, make him uncomfortable. We have athletic defensive backs but most of them are new. We’ve had to replace a couple of defensive backs (from last year) and it has been trial by fire.
On Landon Hammock:
He is our leading sack guy. He is going to have to have a good game. He has a high motor. He plays on both sides (of the ball). He just wants to get to the ball as quick as possible. He has some college potential. He is difficult to block.
On Coach McNamee:
I know what the talent pool was like when Coach McNamee took back over in 2010. For us to be here 10 years later is just a tremendous work to him and his staff. We went about 10 years when we weren’t really that good and kind of lost that Pikeville mystique. I’m not real big on stats but I want to throw this one out there. Under Coach McNamee Pikeville has won 86% of its home playoff games in a 17-year span over two stints. He doesn’t like a lot of attention on himself, but he has done a tremendous job.
On the mood in Pikeville for the game:
We are just ready for some football. Where else would you get a first round where the No. 1 seed plays the only undefeated team. Getting to see Chad Pennington’s son (QB Cole Pennington) play, the kid is very good and that is good chance (for fans) to see a really good player. There is a lot of excitement. I think watching Isaac and Cole go at it, this is going to be fun because these two guys can play.