This weekend will serve as a kickoff to football and soccer season in the county. Friday night, West Jessamine High School will host the second annual VisitNich.com Bowl. On Saturday and Sunday, East Jessamine will host the Soccerama Showcase.
Friday’s fight card will include East Jessamine vs. Somerset at 6:30 p.m. and West Jessamine vs. Tates Creek at approximately 8:45 p.m.
Last year’s bowl had the out-of-towners taking home wins, but East and West are trying to turn the tables this season. Last Thursday at the Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce coaches of all four teams were on hand to discuss the approaching games and their respective teams.
East Jessamine vs. Somerset
Last season, the Jaguars fell at home to Tates Creek 14-7 in a defensive struggle. Later that night, Somerset dismantled West 40-19. East will have its work cut out trying to bring down the Briar Jumpers, who went 9-5 last fall with a trip to the state semifinals.
“As far as our opening opponent, I don’t think it could be much tougher,” East coach Mike Bowlin said.
Somerset has won 10 playoff games in the last three years under coach Robbie Lucas.
“I don’t think East Jessamine has won 10 playoff games in the history of the school — I’m not sure if we’ve won five playoff games,” Bowlin said.
Bowlin said he considers Somerset to be one of the top 15 programs in the state.
“We’ve got a big challenge,” he said. “The exciting part about it is when you face the big boys, you’re going to find out real quick what you’ve got and what you’re made of. It’s a win-win situation for us.”
East Jessamine lost an abundance of senior talent from last year, including leading rusher Cameron Thomas and fullback Seth Hunt. The Jags will again rely heavily on the run game, which will center around senior Blake Hinkle. Hinkle rushed for more than 650 yards last season and three touchdowns.
Somerset is somewhat depleted from last year with the loss of key skill players at quarterback, receiver, punter and on defense. That being said, Lucas feels his team is a bit quicker this season.
Trying not to look past the first game of the year, Lucas knows his team will be better in week eight than on Friday night of this week.
“We broke down 441 plays by East Jessamine from last year. I know the offense may be different — Thomas was 45 percent of the offense, I know how many times he carried it, I know the right-side tendency that he had — all that being said, it doesn’t do me a bit of good because (the offense) changed,” Lucas said. “We studied film; we’ve looked at you guys; we have our hands full.”
West Jessamine vs. Tates Creek
West was on the losing end of Somerset’s 40-19 outbreak last August, and Tates Creek escaped East with a last-minute touchdown.
The Colts are trying to come back from a disappointing 1-9 mark in 2011 and get 2012 started with a win.
The Commodores won only two more games the rest of the season after beating East and are also looking to start 2012 with a victory.
“We’ve got some good kids. Good kids don’t always transfer into outstanding football players — but they transfer into good football players,” West coach Graham Heasley said. “We have a lot of fun; they work hard — several of them have worked very hard since the end of last season.”
Heasley knows that his team may struggle a bit at the start of the season, but once they settle down, they’ll be OK.
“It’s going to be tough — because as much as Mike (Harmon) was poor-mouthing his team — he’s loaded this year,” Heasley said. “He’s probably still a year away from really being loaded ... he’s got speed ... we’re in a lot of trouble with speed, because we don’t have speed.”
Tates Creek will be young in experience on both lines — offensive and defensive. It will also be starting a new quarterback this fall.
With the popularity and talent level of soccer in the county, this year’s festivities will include a Soccerama Showcase at East Jessamine soccer facilities featuring all four local teams and five out-of-town teams from around the state.
Last Friday, all four Jessamine coaches met at a media conference at the Holiday Inn Express in Nicholasville to discuss the showcase and their teams.
“We’re all here for these young people,” East Jessamine girls’ soccer coach DeAngelo Wiser said. “They’re going to benefit from it; it’s going to grow attention to our community, which is a great place to raise a family.”