By Robert Clark
For the first time in 10 years, the Eagles are set to play host to a first-round playoff game.
Madison Southern (6-4, 3-1 district) will take on Perry County Central at 7:30 p.m. today in Berea in the opening round of the Class 5A Playoffs.
The Eagles did not qualify for the playoffs in five of the past six seasons (2010) and haven’t won a postseason game since 2005.
Southern finished up the regular season last week by falling short at Garrard County, 14-13. The loss marked the Eagles’ third one-point loss of the season — 22-21, Wayne County and 37-36, Pulaski County.
“One-point losses mean there are way too many mistakes,” Southern coach Jon Clark said. “If you don’t make those mistakes you win those games.”
The Eagles’ offense have been led by sophomore Damien Harris, who has 37 touchdowns on the season. The standout running back, however, is questionable for today’s game after he suffered an injury in last week.
Perry County Central (4-6, 1-2 in district) averages near 33 points a game, but gives up nearly 37 points a game.
“They’re balanced with an explosive offense with a good quarterback,” Clark said. “They score a lot, but give up a lot of points too.”
The Eagles have had no problem scoring this season with Harris, Wes Proctor and Coty Russell in the backfield.
The Commodores have lost two straight and three of their past games. They finished third in their district after losses to Whitley County (47-28) and Harlan County (55-20).
The Eagles will rely on defensive starters Tyler Hagan, who just needs four tackles to set the school record, and Aaron Sipple, who has 104 tackles on the season, to slow down the fast-paced Commodore offense.
“Last week we had some starters that were out and we found some good things we need to improve on,” Clark said.
Perry County Central quarterback Austin Pray has thrown for 1,809 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. He has also rushed for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns.