Mike Settles hopes the one that got away isn’t getting to be a habit at Lincoln County.
The Patriots have led in each of their last two games before things went awry in the second half, and their coach said inconsistency has be
come an issue that he hopes they can put behind them in their home game Friday against Madison Southern.
“I feel like it’s going to happen for us, it just depends on when the kids make that decision to make it happen,” Settles said. “The kids have prepared well, it’s just a matter of playing well on Friday nights. I feel like we haven’t done that since the Garrard County game.
Since that win almost three weeks ago, Lincoln (3-3, 0-1 District AAAAA-7) has lost to Wayne County after leading 13-7 in the second quarter and to Pulaski County after leading 9-0 in the first quarter of their district opener.
“We came out ready to play; we just didn’t finish the way we wanted to (at Pulaski),” Settles said. “We gave up big plays, we missed tackles, our offense didn’t much going at times. Our inconsistency was really the difference in the outcome, and that’s going to be our focus this week.”
The Patriots also have to focus on much-improved Madison Southern (3-2, 1-0) which halfway through the season has already achieved its highest win total since 2006. The Eagles whipped Southwestern last week to go above .500 for the first time since 2005, their last winning season.
“They’re a team that we’ve always been concerned about. Now they are well-coached, and I think that’s the difference. They play hard and with a lot of passion, and their teams always seem to have good athletes,” Settles said.
Madison Southern averages 41.4 points per game and has an emerging star in sophomore running back Damien Harris, who has rushed for 926 yards and 18 touchdowns and already has scholarship offers from a handful of major colleges, including Michigan, Tennessee, Syracuse and Kentucky.
“He’s a very good running back, very productive,” Settles said.
Marvin Robinson led Lincoln with 101 rushing yards against Pulaski; Logan Martin is the season leader with 498 yards and seven touchdowns.
Nelson County at Mercer County
Mercer (2-3) figures to use the same plan of attack for the second straight week as it tries to keep one of the state’s best passing offenses off the field.
The Titans tried to limit the amount of time Lexington Catholic spent on offense last week, and coach Chris Pardue said that will also be the idea in this non-district game against Nelson (3-3).
“I think we have to this week. I think we match up pretty well with their defense, and we’ll come out with the same philosophy and try to limit their offense’s number of snaps,” Pardue said. “We definitely don’t want a shootout with them. Their offense is prolific. They can move the ball.”
It moves on the arm of senior quarterback Dylan Beasley, the state’s passing leader with 2,475 yards, 27 touchdowns and a 68 percent completion rate. He broke the state record for single-game passing yardage when he threw for 652 yards in an Aug. 31 win over Marion County, and he tied a state record last week with nine touchdown passes in a win over North Bullitt in which he threw for 533 yards and the Cardinals threw up 76 points.
“That’s more (touchdown passes) than we’ve thrown all year,” Pardue said. “He understands the coverages and he gets the ball out quick ... and those kids make plays for him.”
Mercer has only four passing touchdowns this season, and the Titans threw the ball on 38 of their 46 plays last week against Lexington Catholic behind Darion Lewis, who was the quarterback for most of the game, and James Johnson.
Austin Sparrow has started all five games at quarterback for Mercer, but Lewis replaced him in the first quarter last week.
Pardue said he still plans to use both quarterbacks, depending on how the game plays out.
“We’re still planning on the same philosophy, and we’ll see how the flow of the game goes,” he said. “Last week we were moving the ball pretty well with Darion. He’s an athlete, and that’s always been one of my philosophies, to get your best athletes the ball in the open field.”
Bell County at Casey County
It’s a long way from McCreary Central to Bell, and Casey coach Sam Marple knows the Rebels can’t cover all that distance in just one week.
Casey (2-4, 1-0 District AAA-5) rolled over McCreary in its district opener last week, but the young Rebels are obvious underdogs against Bell (4-1, 1-0), which has won its last 23 district games.
“We’ve talked about it, and we’re fine with that,” Marple said. “We’ve said the same thing all year: We don’t want to play to the scoreboard and worry about things that are out of our control or that we can’t handle, but we do want to compete every single snap and take every snap as an opportunity to get better and grow as a football team. Something I don’t think we’ve done consistently this season is to be accountable for each snap for what our job is.”
Bell has outscored its opponents 124-58 since an opening-week loss to Lexington Catholic. The Bobcats are allowing just 14.4 points and 171 yards per game.
“I’m just really impressed with the eye test on them. They were really good last year, but they’re a lot better this year, in my opinion. They’re so big and long and fast at every position,” Marple said. “We’re always going to have to play these type of teams — I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon — so we have to put ourselves in position to compete and hopefully beat them down the road.”
Casey running back Alex Bolin rushed for 340 yards and six touchdowns — both career highs — last week at McCreary, and he has run for 1,173 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. But Marple said Bolin and a handful of other key players have reduced roles in practice, further limiting what a team with a 24-man roster can do.
“At this point in the year, they’re really beat up right now,” Marple said. “It really messes with your practice ... but we’ve adapted to it, and we’re used to it.”