By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Berea Pirates open the season tonight with a tough road matchup with Class 5A Letcher County Central.
Both the teams are coming off 2-9 seasons in 2012 and are looking to get off to quick starts in 2013.
The Cougars enter the season with a new coach — former Brethitt County Coach Mike Holcomb — but return a veteran team from last year.
Junior quarterback Zane Blair leads an offense filled with big-play receivers in Josh Boggs, Colton Collins and Joe Pack.
Holcomb’s teams historically have been wide-open offenses that throw the ball a lot, but they also like to run the ball.
The Cougars’ backfield is also well stocked with veterans with leading rushers Keith Boggs and Chas Bryant returning.
Berea coach Adam Coleman is very familiar with Holcomb’s teams and said he knows what his team will face tonight.
“I know coach Holcomb very well. They like to throw it, but it’s not a throw-every-down team, the do like to run it too. They don’t run a hurry-up offense, but they don’t huddle up after every play either,” Coleman said.
Letcher County Central has good size across both its offensive and defensive lines, but Coleman said he feels like the Pirates’ athleticism and speed can nullify some of that size.
The Pirates will have to put some pressure on Blair, Coleman said, but more importantly, they must contain the Cougars outside receivers and tackle well.
“Blair is a good athlete and he’s a big kid and likes to run it, so we have to keep some pressure on him up the middle, not trying to flush him out of the pocket, but to hurry him up a little bit and try to make him uncomfortable in the pocket,” Coleman said. “They can score quick and can put a lot of points on the board if we don’t tackle. If those receivers get downfield on us and we don’t tackle them real quick, we are going to have a hard time getting them down.”
On offense, the Pirates will be looking to utilize their quickness on the line to control the ball, Coleman said, and to keep the Cougars offense off the field.
One disadvantage the Pirates will face going up against the much larger school will be the shear number of players the Cougars can call upon, while Berea will only play about 15 players in the game, Coleman said.
Practices have gone well this week, Coleman said, and he thinks his team is ready to go.
“The kids are excited and ready to get the season going,” he said. “We’re going to go down and give it what we’ve got and come out of there with the best results that we can hope for.”
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. in Carlisle.