KPGFootball watched football on “the Riverbank.” Here’s our thoughts about Breathitt County and what we think of its chances against Somerset.

We got to travel to Jackson, Kentucky this past Friday night and take in the game on “The Riverbank” between Breathitt County and Walton-Verona. The following is what KPGFootball thought of the game with the Bearcats from Walton-Verona and what it thinks of Breathitt’s chances against Somerset this coming Friday night.

Photo: James Fugate, Jackson Times-Voice

First, A look back at Walton-Verona…

What a fine performance against the Bearcats from Walton-Verona who played Breathitt very well and ably. In the end, Breathitt ran the clock on Walton-Verona like so many others. That being said, running the football for 308-yards on 38-carries for 4 rushing TDs against any team which has made it as far as the third round of the KHSAA playoffs is yeoman’s work. 

Against the Bearcats, Breathitt was effective throwing the football, as its passers completed 4-6 for 109 yards through the air. The Bobcats gained 417-yards of total offense in only 44 plays run from scrimmage. Throw in the 128-yards in kick returns and the special team’s score to go with the 93-yards in interception returns over our 2-picks, one of which was a pick-six, and that is how one wins a Regional Championship, 57-28. It was a three-phase, excellent performance.

Now, the inclination is to criticize Breathitt’s defense. After all, Breathitt surrendered 365-yards in rushing in 50-carries and 453-yards of total offense in 63-plays. However, the first-team defense held the Bearcats to three TDs, which is remarkable considering the rushing totals. While they out-gained Breathitt in total offense they also had 19 more plays from scrimmage. Breathitt stopped Walton-Verona when it was critically important.

The offensive drive of the night was when Breathitt ran the ball from deep inside its own territory the length of the field for a TD, chewing up the remainder of the 3rd-Quarter clock and a good portion of the 4th. The Bobcats ran the football right down the Bearcats throat on that drive. The Bobcats didn’t throw it a single time and were aligned from out of its power-run set, working from under center, and drove it into the end zone. 

The game was over, at that point, for all intents and purposes. It was “hat on hat, man on man, let’s learn which roster lists the tougher-guys” football. The ability to do that wins Championships. 

A look ahead to Somerset

Let me start off by saying this Somerset team has been considered the class of the 2A classification all season by nearly every football expert in the commonwealth. They came out of the toughest district in the classification as they are in the same district with both Danville and Lexington Christian. 

Their QB (Kaiya Sheron) has been offered by UK and he has had a tremendous year. He has completed 152 of 221 passing attempts for 2,834 yards passing with 24-TDs against only 5-interceptions. 

Sheron is also the team’s leading rusher. He has gained 798-yards in 89-carries with 8-rushing TDs to go with what he does for the team’s passing attack. The team’s top RB, Alex Miller, was lost for the year with a broken leg in the Hazard game. 

Jase Bruner is one of Kentucky’s very best LBs and plays fullback too on offense. Bruner is a load to bring down to the turf. 

Kade Grundy, who is committed to play baseball in college at the University of Louisville, is one of the KHSAA’s premier athletes. He catches it, runs with it, and plays on defense and, generally, gets moved around to wherever he can inflict the most damage. 

The lines of scrimmage for Somerset are big, nasty, and very well schooled on both sides of the football. The offensive center, Drew Johnson, a 2021-prospect, is probably the Briar Jumper’s very best offensive lineman. 

The “baddest bunnies from its side of the briar-patch” scored 532-points in 2019 while allowing 195. They have run it from scrimmage for 2,971-yards, with 48 rushing TDs in their 13-games. They have thrown it for 2,886-yards, with 25-TDs passing. The defense has allowed opponents to run for 1,333-yards and pass for 1,421-yards.

Final Analysis

So what does all this mean? Well, I am going to say something here which will shock you…Breathitt may match up better with Somerset playing its schemes and from out of its alignments, than they did with Walton-Verona. 

Now, that being said, Somerset has much better personnel than Walton-Verona. However, if Walton-Verona had run Spread at Breathitt’s 3-4 base defense Breathitt, defensively, would have been better suited to defend against that action than they were attempting to stop the Bearcats’ flexbone/Wing-T run from the Pistol formation the Bobcats faced Friday night. 

We have seen examples of this all year. Teams who ran similar schemes to Walton-Verona’s gave Breathitt trouble in 2019. Remember the scrimmage against Letcher Central? Remember the Pike County Central game? Need we say more?

So, can Breathitt win Friday night? Well, no one in Kentucky, outside of Breathitt County, will pick the Bobcats over the Briar Jumpers. Breathitt will be a decided underdog and rightfully. 

Those of you who have been around the Breathitt program know this won’t be the first time Breathitt County has been overlooked and, according to the pundits, outclassed. Remember, in 1995, Breathitt traveled to Danville, Kentucky and played a Danville High School team which had won 69 of its previous 72 games? 

Breathitt wasn’t supposed to win that one, or so the Bobcat faithful were told. Of course, Breathitt did win it and then won the State Championship a week later on the heels of the Danville conquest.  

So it comes down to this, Breathitt has to play a clean game, value possession, and not blow assignments. Defensively, Breathitt has to force Somerset to drive the field, giving the Briar Jumpers nothing easy, to give themselves a puncher’s chance. For a program like Breathitt County, oftentimes, that’s all the sliver of daylight the Bobcats require. That’s why they’re Breathitt County, wouldn’t you agree?

Reporting for Kentucky Prep Gridiron, this is HB Lyon and we’re just CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!

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