What a weekend. The Kentucky Wildcats knocked off the No. 1 team in the nation and the Letcher Central Cougars improved to 7-1 on the season.
The Cougars (who are already the regular season champions after going 4-0 in the district) are just finishing out the season with three non-district games. The first of these games came Friday night as they hosted the East Ridge Warriors at Ermine on homecoming night.
After securing the regular season district championship, you might have thought the Cougars would have a letdown. But that would not happen on this night.
It was another chilly night and great weather for football. The Cougars came in averaging 415 yards of offense each game while holding their opponents to 295. They have been rolling up 239 yards on the ground and 175 through the air. They are also averaging 37 points each game while giving up 25.
Well, if you want offense, the Cougars put it up against the outmanned Warriors of East Ridge. On their first possession the Cougars would take the ball and march straight down the field and Charlie Banks hooked up with Stacy Phillips on a short pass play and it was quickly 7-0 Cougars. He found him again on the second drive for another touchdown. This time it was from 14 yards out and the rout was on. Charlie Banks would score on the next possession on a quarterback keeper up the middle for 51 yards and a 20-0 lead for the Cougars.
As always, the defense got in on the action as McKenzie Smith scooped up a loose ball and took it in from 27 yards out. The score was 27-0 Cougars.
Charlie Banks later found Dakota Brock on an 11-yard pass play and it was 34-0. Sophomore Chase Adams would score for the first time this year from 21 yards out to make it 41-0, and Terry Tolson would take one in, along with Chase Adams getting the two-point conversion, to make it 49-0 at the half.
The Cougars had three touchdowns through the air and three on the ground. They also had one defensive touchdown. And it was only half-time. They put up 288 yards of offense in the first half alone.
At the half it was homecoming time and the homecoming queen was crowned. Congratulations to Miss Char-leigh Craft.
The clock would run continuously in the second half as the mercy rule was in effect. The younger players took over for the Cougars after half-time and it was pretty much more of the same.
East Ridge completed its first pass of the night and moved down to the Cougar 20-yard line, but the Cougars stopped the drive and took over the ball on downs. The third quarter flew by and the score stood at 49-0 after three quarters.
East Ridge got on the board to start the fourth quarter and added a two-point conversion to make it 49-8. But the younger players would strike back. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Maggard handed off to sophomore Greg Collins and he was off to the races from 49 yards out. Maggard found Travis Stephens on the conversion and it was 57-8 as the clock continued to run.
Both teams emptied their benches and as time was running out Blake Conn intercepted a pass for the Cougars and returned it all the way for the final touchdown. The final would be 65-8 as the Cougars would move to 7-1 overall. They will have an open date next weekend to rest up and hopefully have everyone ready for the final two games of the season before the playoffs start.
The defense has scored seven times in the last four games for the Cougars and they have really been the stars for this Cougar team. After eight games Charlie Banks is the leading scorer for the Cougars with 84 points and 13 touchdowns. He also has three two-point conversions. Dakota Brock has 66 points and 11 touchdowns. Terry Tolson has 42 points and seven touchdowns. Kicker Colton Cook has 31 points, Stacy Phillips has 24 points. Ben Fisher has 14 points, Caleb Frazier has 12 points along with Greg Collins. Chase Adams, McKenzie Smith, Blake Conn, Devon Johnson, and Richard Shepherd each have each points and Travis Stephens rounds out the scoring with two points.
The defense has been led by Caleb Frazier, McKenzie Smith and Richard Shepherd, who have led the way in tackles. Charlie Banks has three interceptions to lead the way in that category. The Cougars have 11 interceptions on the season.
Letcher Central has come a long way in only three seasons. They could go into the playoffs with a 9-1 record if they can beat Bourbon County and Lawrence County to close out the regular season. Now who would have thought that?
But who thought Kentucky could beat LSU? The Wildcats played better overall than the Tigers and they deserved to win. It was not a fluke.
The Cougars deserve to be where they are, too. They have beaten whoever they have faced with the exception of Hazard.