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Cougars look for senior night magic




RAIN-SOAKED WIN — Letcher County Central senior forward Brooke Kincer (left) helped the Cougars to the 14th Region volleyball championship with a 5-1 win over Estill County at Ermine Oct. 24. Kincer was the tourney MVP. LCC advanced to meet Lawrence County in state tournament. (Photo by Brandon Meyer/B. Meyer Images)

RAIN-SOAKED WIN — Letcher County Central senior forward Brooke Kincer (left) helped the Cougars to the 14th Region volleyball championship with a 5-1 win over Estill County at Ermine Oct. 24. Kincer was the tourney MVP. LCC advanced to meet Lawrence County in state tournament. (Photo by Brandon Meyer/B. Meyer Images)

The Letcher County Central Cougars are back home this week after suffering a surprising 44- 20 defeat to previously winless district foe Whitley County. The Cougars will play Breathitt County Friday on “senior night.”

The tone for the loss at Whitley County was set early, as the Colonels returned the opening kickoff to the 41-yard line. On second, down Colonels quarterback Luke Wood used a play action pass to find receiver Dakota Nantz behind the LCC defense, but Nantz dropped the would be touchdown pass. On third down the Letcher Central defense committed a facemask penalty to extend the drive. Two plays later, running back Zack Mills ran up the middle out of a power-I formation and broke free for a 48-yard touchdown run. Fullback Brad Mason scored on the two-point conversion. Just two minutes into the game Whitley County found itself ahead 8-0.

The Letcher Central offense quickly went three and out and was forced to punt. Whitley County used a time-consuming ball control drive, taking more than six minutes off the clock as it drove deep into LCC territory. Facing third and long inside the red zone, Whitley County tried a halfback pass that LCC defensive back Aaron Thomas intercepted to keep the Colonels at bay.

The Letcher Central offense used smash mouth football to have what would be the Cougars’ best drive of the game. Jaylyn Williams had consecutive runs of 14 and eight yards up the middle. Hunter Hall then gained eight yards on a sweep play around the right side. Williams gained 21 yards and then Hunter Hall broke free on a 40-yard touchdown run. The offensive line simply manhandled the Whitley County front seven on the drive. The two-point conversion was no good, but Letcher Central had cut the Whitley County lead to 8-6 with eight seconds left in the first quarter.

The Cougar defense then stepped up and forced a three and out for Whitley County. The Colonels’ kicker shanked the punt, which went out of bounds at the Colonels’ 45-yard line, giving the LCC offense excellent field position.

Hunter Hall gained nine yards on first down. Jaylyn Williams got a tough three yards to move the chains. Facing third and nine, Zane Blair used a shovel pass to Hall who gained 12 yards and a first down. LCC used a shovel pass again to Hall on the next play and he gained 11 yards to make it first and goal. The Cougars tried three straight running plays, but could not crack the goal line. On fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Hall got stuffed on the carry and the turnover on downs shifted momentum back in favor of Whitley County.

Zack Mills gained 18 yards around the right tackle to give Whitley County some breathing room. After LCC defensive lineman Billy Sturgill tackled Mills for a six-yard loss, the very next play resulted in Wood connecting with Mills on a 76-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was no good, leaving the score 14-6 with 2:14 left in the first half.

Aaron Thomas had a 24-yard kickoff return to take the ball to LCC 29-yard line. Blair passed to Williams for a 13-yard gain and then threw a 10-yard screen pass to Hall. Whitley County defensive back Christian Hamilton intercepted a pass to end the drive with just less than one minute left in the second quarter.

Wood threw a 28-yard pass to receiver D.J. Anderson to get into Cougar territory. Letcher Central linebacker Ryan Alzuraqi blitzed and sacked Wood for a 16-yard loss. Whitley County then completed a 14-yard pass and, with the clock about to run out, was able to get off one final play. Wood scrambled from one side of the field to the other and eventually found Mills alone in the back of the end zone for a TD. The two-point conversion gave Whitley County a 22-6 lead at halftime.

It was a shocking first half for a heavily favored Letcher County Central team trying to lock up second place in the district and a first round home playoff game. The Cougars looked lethargic from the start and most of the 146 firsthalf yards of total offense came on its one 93-yard touchdown drive. Zack Mills was a one-man wrecking crew, accounting for all three scores.

Letcher Central returned the second half kickoff to its own 16-yard line. Blair called his own number on a quarterback keeper to pick up a first down. On third and nine LCC ran an option play and Blair made a perfect pitch while being hit to Hunter Hall for an 11-yard gain. On the next play Hamilton intercepted his second pass of the game.

Zack Mills broke a 44-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the second half. The score remained 28-6 after the two-point conversion was no good with 7:54 left in the third quarter.

The Letcher Central offense again was unable to get going and was forced to punt.

Whitley County used a fullback dive play to Brad Mason to gain 30 yards deep into LCC territory. Later on in the drive, the Colonels decided to go for it on fourth and one. Wood tried a quarterback sneak, but Cougar defender Seth Hall penetrated the line and stopped him short of the line.

On third and 22, Blair found Ryan Alzuraqi streaking down the seam for a 30-yard reception. Kyler Lucas then caught a 29-yard pass to get into the red zone. On the next play Blair threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Lucas. The two-point conversion was good on a pass from Blair to Alzuraqi to cut the lead to 28-14 with 8:18 left in the game.

Letcher Central’s onside kick attempt went out of bounds to give Whitley County the ball at the LCC 48-yard line. Three plays later, Mills found the end zone on a 15- yard run. The two-point conversion was good to make the score 36-14.

LCC started their next possession at their own 29-yard line. The fourth and 12 pass attempt was batted down at the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs. Mills then scored his sixth touchdown of the game on an 11-yard run. The two-point conversion increased the Colonel lead to 44-14.

Letcher Central freshman Quade Adams made a highlight reel kickoff return. He bobbled the kickoff, picked it up off the ground and proceeded to run all away across the field before finding a seam. Adams then broke two tackles and went 80 yards before being caught from behind at the two-yard line. Aaron Tackett then scored a two-yard rushing touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good to make the final score 44-20 Whitley County.

The surprising outcome means that Letcher Central will finish in a three-way tie for second place in the district. LCC, Perry Central and Whitley County will all have a district record of 1-2 and there are all sorts of scenarios that will play out to see who secure the second seed in the playoffs. Zane Blair completed eight passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. Hunter Hall carried the ball 11 times for 79 yards and a touchdown and also had four catches for 34 yards. Jaylyn Williams had 47 yards on eight rushing attempts. Kyler Lucas who caught two passes for 40 yards and a score led the receiving corps.

Ryan Alzuraqi led the defense with a sack and two tackles for a loss. Jacob Kiser, Kyler Lucas and Hunter Hall had six tackles apiece. Seth Hall had two tackles for loss and Keith Boggs had a fumble recovery.

Friday night’s game against Breathitt will be an emotional one for Coach Mike Holcomb who led the Bobcats to three state championships and nine undefeated regular seasons. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Cougar Field.


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