Prep Notebook: Coal Grove is full of talent
It's no secret Coal Grove opponents are going to see all they want of Kyle Estep, Brandon Hogsten, Isaiah Gunther and Tanner Murphy. Those four are the workhorses in a punishing ground game with a big assist from the guys up front.
Estep carried 29 times for 134 yards and a TD, Gunther 11 for 45, Hogsten 14 for 75 and a score and Murphy 5 for 23 and two scores in Friday's 28-8 Ohio Valley Conference win at Fairland.
Not to be overlooked, though, are quarterback Alex Bare and receiver Sean Paulus. Three times, they hooked up on third down to keep drives alive. They had a 16-yarder in the first period on a 3rd-and-8 at the Fairland 22. The Hornets would go on to score for an 8-0 lead.
In the second period, Bare found Paulus down the middle for 14 yards on a 3rd-and-6 at the Coal Grove 26 for a first down at the 40. On the same drive, Bare ripped off a 24-yard run on a bootleg left on a 3rd-and-13 at the Fairland 29. Again the Hornets would go on to score and build the lead to 16-0.
In the third period, Paulus ran a sideline route and Bare found him for 11 yards on a 3rd-and-7 at the Coal Grove 45. You guessed it, the Hornets again would go on to score for a 22-8 lead.
On defense, Bare picked off two passes and came up with a timely sack. The first he dove to make the grab and stop a Fairland drive at the visitor's 14. The second came with about a minute to play and sealed the victory. The sack came in the second period as Bare sprinted in from the secondary and dropped Dragons quarterback Chance Short for an 11-yard loss.
"He's one of the best quarterbacks I've had," Hornets coach Dave Lucas said. "He's got great instincts and he's a good leader. You won't find many better."
Lucas said Paulus is a player opponents must not overlook.
"He's one of those guys who's come on," Lucas said. "You talk about players stepping up. He has."
Bare said Paulus ran good routes and the offensive line gave him the time.
"They were big plays," Bare said. "I knew he'd be open. I just had to fit it (ball) in there. On the run, the opening was there. I just had to trust my legs."
As for defense, Bare said he made the right reads.
"I saw the quarterback turn and committed to the ball," the senior said. "On the sack, I saw my receiver block and I took off."
Fairland scored right before the half to cut the deficit to 16-8. Coal Grove followed with a 13-play scoring drive in the third period and 9-play march in the fourth to secure the win and improve to 3-0 in the OVC and set up a showdown for the league title next week at home against Chesapeake (3-0).
"We had to get some stops and make a statement," Bare said. "Those drives did."
DONATION: The 50-50 jackpot winner at Fairland on Friday night received $159. He donated the money to the team's Quarterback Club and received a nice ovation.
CROSS COUNTRY: Cabell Midland's Jacob Burcham is No. 7 in MileSplit.com's national runner rankings. The Knights are back in action Thursday in the West Virginia Class AAA Region IV meet at Meadowbrook Park in Tornado. Girls run at 4 p.m. and the boys at 4:45.
HIGH SCORERS: Fairview and Raceland are fifth and sixth in scoring in Kentucky through seven games. The Eagles are averaging 51 points a game and Rams 49.1. In scoring margin, Fairview's victory margin is 36.1 and Raceland's is 33.2.
SHOWDOWN: Ashland rested quite a few regulars last Friday due to injuries, but the Tomcats still rolled past winless Greenup County, 56-8. The Tomcats (8-1) visit Johnson Central on Friday with the Kentucky 4A, District 8 championship on the line. Johnson Central (7-1) routed Rowan County, 58-14, last Friday. Both teams are 3-0 in district play. This is Ashland's final game of the regular season.
David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.