It’s football time in the mountains and it’s year number two for Letcher Centrals head coach Junior Matthews.
The Cougars are coming off a 4-7 slate last year and are returning a good group of experienced sophomores and juniors as well as seven seniors. The Cougars will also welcome some new coaches including former Cougar standout and quarterback Logan Johnson. He will handle the quarterbacks.
I will try to interview Coach Matthews each Monday morning following a game, and get his analysis of the previous game and preview the upcoming game. I will ask Coach Matthews 10 questions about the positives and negatives of the previous game and the strengths and weaknesses of the next opponent.
The Cougars opened the new season in the East Kentucky Physical Therapy Bowl at home against a very good Knox Central team. The Panthers are coached by Fred Hoskins and are coming off a 4-6 season last year. They are led by junior quarterback Blevin Campbell and senior Donovan Arthur, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. The Panthers look to build on last season.
First question: Coach Mathews, talk a little about returning players and also touch on new members of your staff.
Seniors Hunter Craft and Isiah Cornett are two of the leaders on our team and they will be looked to lead the team with their experience. The new coaches besides Johnson will be Joey Kincer who will coach the offensive line and the defense line. Also coaching the wide receivers will be Jordon Staton. Second question: Starting with a loss has to hurt. How do you keep the team’s heads up and what did you say to them after the game?
It was a close game throughout and we fought hard and basically ran out of time. We were in the red zone twice and couldn’t score.
Third question: There were big plays on both sides of the ball. Biggest positives to take away from game?
We played with grit and determination and we need guys to step up and make big plays. We have a young defense and we have a lot to clean up.
Fourth question: Why are you squib kicking? I see it a lot in middle school games so why are you doing it?
We really can’t kick deep and there is much less of a return.
Fifth question: Knox was very athletic but the Cougars looked stronger most of the game. What did you think?
I think we looked good early and gave up some big plays late and we probably ran out of gas.
Number 6: Comment on special teams.
We missed extra point early, otherwise the punts were pretty good other than one. We also covered good on the kicks.
Number 7: What is the biggest thing the Cougars need to improve on before next game?
We need to run more downhill on defense. Overall the offense performed pretty well.
Number 8: You have a tough district and the tough early season should help once district starts.
Yes, Perry Central will be much better and Harlan County will have a good group of seniors. North Laurel has their whole team back and Whitley County has 19 seniors so the district will be really good.
Number 9: Bell County is coming up Friday with all their tradition and Coach Dudley Hilton. Talk a little about him.
What can you say? He is second all time in wins and is a legend. He is back after coaching stints at UPike and Taylor County. Bell County is probably not as athletic as Knox but they will hit you till the whistle blows.
Number 10: What has to happen for the Cougars to win?
We have to play a clean game and take care of the ball. We have to tackle better. We left a lot of stuff on the table on offense against Knox. Bell will be tough on the road.
Well, that will do it for week one. Good luck to Coach Matthews and the Cougars.