Prep Football: Lincoln, Casey face challenges heading into opener
Lincoln County linebacker Jonathan Hardwick, right, stopped Harlan County¿s Marcus McMillian last season and will be a key defender for the Patriots this season. Lincoln hosts Casey County Friday in the PBK Bank Death Valley Bowl. (Nancy Leedy / August 15, 2012)
“The number one thing I’m looking for is for them to do their jobs and be able to do it to the best of their ability,”¿Settles said. “Sometimes when you have new kids, they get in there thinking they have to do everything and we just want them to focus on their positions.”
Casey coach Sam Marple is also sporting a young squad, and one with little depth, as the Rebels have just 23 players on the roster.
“We only return six kids off ast year’s team, so we’re starting four kids Friday that have never played in a varsity game,” he said. “The main thing for us, I’m really interested in seeing how we compete. When the other team does something good, seeing how we respond.”
Settles said the strength of his team lies in the offense, while the defense remains a work in progress.
“We had a great scrimmage against Western Hills, and offensively I think we can be pretty solid,”¿Settles said. “Defensively, we have to improve not only our fundamentals but getting to the football.”
The Patriots are going to be without starting center and long snapper Chris Luster, who injured his left leg in the Western Hills scrimmage. Settles said Luster will have an MRI exam on his leg, and he was not sure how long Luster would be out.
Marple said the challenge for his team is handling the physical Lincoln line.
“They’re probably better up front than they’ve been in the past. They’ve got as good of an offensive and defensive line as any local team around here,” he said. “And we’re really young up front, we’re starting three sophomores and a freshman.
“We have no depth, but a lot like last year I think we can be competitive one-deep. Probably in this game, the depth doesn’t concern me. That gets into more week two and three when someone gets hurt.”
Casey’s strength lies in senior running back Alex Bolin, who led the area in rushing last year, as well as Rance Carman.
“Alex is a special athlete. He doesn’t need a whole lot. If we can just get him a crease every once in a while,”¿Marple said. “We have a good backfield. Those two kids know how to carry the ball. We’ve just got to get them room to run.
Settles said slowing down the Casey run game, even when you know it’s coming, is no easy task.
“Alex Bolin is a great back when you watch him on film, and he’s so aggressive,” Settles said. “Up front, they come off the ball really hard. I think Tyler Padgett is a great offensive lineman, and I know he makes that offense and defense go.
“It’s a scheme we haven’t seen a lot of. It will be a challenge for our defense to stop. It makes you play assignment football, and that’s difficult to do for 48 minutes. So that may be our biggest challenge.”