Letcher Central’s Charlie Banks accounted for 272 of the Cougars 338 offensive yards Friday, but it wasn’t enough as the Whitley County Colonels captured their first ever regional football title with a 38-8 victory.
“All the credit goes to these kids,” coach Jim Black said. “They have worked so hard and went through so much and they deserve everything they get.
Whitley County got things started from the opening kick off as Alex Patrick took the kick off on the 10-yard line, returning it 55 yards to the Letcher County 35-yard line.
After that, it was a two play drive, which was capped off by Jason Powers with 8:54 to go in the first quarter, putting Whitley County up 6-0 after failing to convert the extra point. On the night, Powers rushed for 108 yards with three rushing touchdowns, giving him 27 on the year, which breaks the record of 25 set by Bobby Joe Lawson in 1996.
After the game, Powers said it felt great to get the touchdown mark, but he owed all the credit to his offensive line, which includes Nathaniel Davis, Dan Burnette, Cyle Moses, D.J. Centers, Jordan Rickett and Chad Breeding.
“I couldn’t do anything if it weren’t for those guys on the line,” Powers added.
Letcher Central’s first attempt at a score was cut short after a pass by Banks was intercepted by Cody Bowlin, who returned it to the 31-yard line.
Three plays later it was Cody Jones, who finished the game with 109 yards on the night, who took the ball in from 20 yards out for his 25th rushing touchdown on the year, which ties him with Lawson for a career. Like Powers, Jones gave all the credit to his offensive line.
“No other line in the state works harder then those guys and they are the ones who allow the backs to pick up yardage,” he said.
Jones also added the twopoint conversion to put Whitley County on top 14-0 with 5:14 remaining in the first quarter.
On its second possession of the game, Letcher Central turned the ball over for a second time after fumbling the football on the kick off. Whitley’s Jordan Chute came up with the ball, giving the Colonels the football on the 20- yard line. However, Whitley had to settle for a 26-yard field goal from Jamie Lebanion to take a 17-0 lead as the first quarter came to an end.
In the second quarter, it was Letcher Central keeping possesand sion of the football for almost 11 minutes. After Whitley County went three and out, the Cougars moved the ball down the field behind the running of Banks to the 12-yard line. But with 14 seconds left in the half, the Colonel’s defense came up with their second interception of the night when Justin Goins’ picked off Banks, giving Whitley County the ball back and ending the first half with the Colonels leading, 17-0.
In the third, Whitley County’s defense continued to keep Letcher Central out of the end zone while adding a score of their own courtesy of a 33-yard run by Powers, giving them a 23-0 lead.
Powers would strike again with 8:46 remaining in the game on a five yard run, putting Whitley County ahead 31-0.
Several minutes later, Jones found the end zone on a 10-yard run, giving the Colonels a 38-0 lead.
Letcher Central got its lone score of the night with 4:05 left in the game on a 1-yard run and extra point by Banks. But the touchdown came too late as Whitley County ended the Cougars season with a 38-8 win and title of regional champions.
“This was a great effort by the entire team,” Black said. “We made plays when we had to. I am so proud of these kids, and again I give them all the credit,” he added.
Up next for Whitley County will be Ft. Thomas Highlands, who defeated Johnson Central 35-21.
“I know they have a very good football team with several Division 1 football players, so we will just have to go over game tape and see what we can do against them,” Black said.
Travis Smith writes for the Corbin Times-Tribune.