Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Highlands opponent is playoff fixture


AA or AAA, Lawrence Co. gets plenty of W's

BY MARK SCHMETZER
Enquirer contributor

        One year, Lawrence County is a large Class AA football program. The next, it's a small Class AAA school.

        For now, it's the latter. The Bulldogs (12-1) visit Highlands (12-1), a school also on the low end of AAA enrollment numbers, in a state semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

        “It seems like what we've run into here is everybody's got a few more numbers,” eighth-year coach Charles Williams said. “It seemed like the teams at AA had 45 to 50 players, while they have 65 to 70 at AAA. They can put a lot more fresh bodies on the field.

        “We're one of the smallest schools in AAA, but we only have two players who go both ways.”

        The Bulldogs were in AAA as recently as 1996, when they lost to Highlands in the playoffs for the second consecutive season. They then were dropped to AA by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association for 1997 and 1998, before being bumped back up this year.

        One constant is winning. Lawrence County has reached the playoffs every year of Williams' tenure as coach, including trips to the AA state semifinals in 1997 and to the regional finals last year.

        Another constant is the Bulldogs' option offense, which is operated primarily out of the I-bone formation. It has produced 731 points this season, an average of 56.2 per game. They are nearing the single-season state record of 801 set by Highlands last season.

        The offense starts with senior quarterback Allen Short, who has rushed for more than 700 yards and passed for more than 1,500 this season. The leading rusher is sophomore Michael West, who has gained more than 2,500 yards.

        West's primary target is senior Gerad Parker, who has 4,668 career receiving yards, the second-highest career total in national history. The four-year starter also has state records for career receptions (233) and touchdown catches (50).

        Lawrence County's 5-3 defense is led by linebackers Josh Diamond and Sean Murphy.

        “They've been two key people, but we're really sort of like Highlands,” Williams said. “There's a lot of synchronized timing. We're a unit out there, and everybody's got to do their part.”

        Lawrence County has several returning starters on offense, but many defensive players were new starters.

        Their only loss came in September, a two-point defeat to Inez Sheldon Clark, which finished the regular season unbeaten.

        “We've gotten better as the year went on,” Williams said.

       



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