The Letcher County Central Cougars won their first-ever post-season game and now will advance to the second round of the KHSAA’s Class 5A play’offs. The Cougars will host Clay County in this week’s secondround game.
Yes, that is the same Clay County that has given the Cougars fits the last two years as well as this year. Zack Lewis and Company will be primed and ready to go when they make the trip to Ermine this week.
But first things first. The Cougars have brought a renewed excitement to much of Letcher County. It is funny how sports have a way of bringing people together. And bring them together it did. All week leading up to the Cougars’ first round match-up with Whitley County the excitement was building. Everyone was talking about it, and for good measure they had a huge pep rally and bonfire last Thursday night. There was a huge crowd on hand and it was even broadcast on the radio.
The Cougars, in just their third year of existence, were ready come Friday night. The crowd got to witness the Cougars come on the field through their new tunnel, which was actually an inflatable Cougar head. As the team ran through the Cougar head, smoke came out of its mouth and the excitement was about to begin.
The Cougars kicked off to the Colonels to open the game and Charlie Banks promptly put it in the end zone.
The Colonels started from their own 20-yard line. They picked up short yardage and then their junior tailback, Cody Jones, exploded up the middle all the way to the Cougar 20-yard line for a 50-yard gain and the Colonels were in business. Faced with a fourth-and-four from the Cougar 14-yard line, Jones carried down to the 9 for a first down and goal for the Colonels. A penalty on the Cougars put it down to the 4. Two plays later, Jones found the end zone to give the Colonels, who came into the contest riding an eight-game losing streak, a 6-0 lead with 8:10 left in the first quarter. The extra point was no good.
The Cougars then fumbled on their possession and the Colonels scooped it up and ran it in from 17 yards out to go in front 12-0. Whitley County also fail on this extra point, but the Cougars were in an early hole and it was still in the first quarter.
The Cougars always seem to play better after falling behind. They have come back so many times this year that they have earned the nickname Cardiac Cougars. Well, at least that’s my nickname for them. And why should this game be any different?
Charlie Banks and Company marched down the field before Banks took it home from 21 yards out to make it 12-7 after Colton Cook nailed the extra point. The score stood after one quarter.
Both teams kicked it up a notch in the second quarter. The Cougars, behind a powerful ground game, scored again as Banks connected up with Terry Tolson from 13 yards out. The conversion was no good, but the Cougars took a 13-12 lead.
Whitley County then answered in a big way as Powers shot up the middle for 77 yards and another Colonel touchdown. The conversion was good and the score was 20-13 Colonels.
The Cougars answered right back after another drive as Tolson ran it in from six yards out to make the score 20-19 Colonels.
Then the unexpected hap- pened to the Colonels. They fumbled the ball out of the back of the end zone and it resulted in a safety with two points going to the Cougars. Now the score was 21-20, which is where it remained at half-time.
The Cougars started the second half on offense, and once again the ground game took over as they drove downfield behind Ben Fisher. The Cougars tacked on another score when big Caleb Frazier took it in from five yards out to make the score 27-20. The extra point attempt failed again.
The Colonels answered once again after putting together a big drive and taking it in from two yards out to make the score 27- 26. Their point after attempt also failed.
It was starting to look like another overtime game like these two teams played earlier in the season. But not this time, as the Cougars came right back and put together another drive on the ground. Ben Fisher picked up 28 yards on two carries and moved the ball to the Colonel 37-yard line. Dakota Brock got the final carry of the drive as he took it in from five yards out to make the score 34-26 Cougars after the extra point by Cook.
After a Colonel punt and penalty against the Whitley County coach, the ball was moved out to the Cougar 40. Then Caleb Frazier took off from his running back position up the middle for an unbelievable 60-yard touchdown. He showed speed on the play that should make him a threat out of the backfield and will give the Cougars another option. With the score now 40- 26, it was all over but the celebrating. And that would come after the game.
The Cougars (10-1) have now won 10 games in a row.
Clay County’s Tigers defeated Perry Central, 35-14, to advance to play the Cougars this week.
What a night last Friday was for the Cougars. They put up 365 yards on the ground, with both Charlie Banks and Ben Fisher accounting for more than 90 apiece. Dakota Brock picked up 80 yards, and Caleb Frazier picked up 65 yards on only two carries, both of which were touchdowns. Terry Tolson also picked up 38 yards on the ground. The Cougars had 62 yards through the air as Banks hit on 6 of 14 for 49 yards and Dakota Brock was 1 of 1 for 13 yards and a touchdown.