The moment so many of us have been awaiting is upon us. Breathitt County will kick off its 2020 football season tonight in Irvine, Kentucky against the Estill County Engineers. Kick-off is at 7:30 pm and may be heard on WJSN 97.3 FM with Steve Neace and Chris Bunn.
Bluegrass Sports Nation will be streaming it on Facebook. The Facebook link is https://www.facebook.com/bluegrasssportsnation/.
We thought it would be interesting to break down the matchup for you in this article. This is in-depth analysis you will only get from the Times-Voice.
First, for the visiting Bobcats from Breathitt County...
Breathitt enters the game preseason ranked the 4th-best team in the 2A classification. Overall, all classes, Breathitt is ranked the 32nd-best team.
The Bobcats have 8 offensive starters and 8 defensive starters returning. Last year’s team was 13-1, and won both the Region 4 and District 7 championships in route to a semi-final berth against state champion, Somerset.
The Bobcats return starting quarterback Jaylen Turner and perhaps the best offensive line in the classification in Breathitt’s famed “Big Blue Wave.” Turner is one of the top QB prospects in Kentucky’s graduating class of 2022.
When he looks to throw it, he will look downfield to one of three targets. Blake Ritchie is back after a very solid year and freshman, Austin Sperry, has the frame and athleticism which have been restaurant discussion fodder all over the county all offseason.
TE, Bryce Hoskins, at 6-6, 260 is a top target who was selected the 4th-best TE at the Appalachia Prep Combine. His potential is limitless.
The Blue Wave will align with Evan Miller, Teegan Smith, William Long, Dillon Spencer, and Connor Deaton across its front. That front line averages 6’2.4”- 288-pounds.
William Long is coming off back-to-back, first team All-State selections as an offensive lineman (AP 2018 & AP and Bluegrass Preps 2019) and was recently selected both the Mingua Beef Jerky Power-packed Performer of the Week and to the Lexington Herald-Leader’s top-100. Both Connor Deaton and Teegan Smith were on the KPGFootball sophomore All-State team in 2019 and Evan Miller was an Honorable Mention freshman selection. Look for freshman and former KPGFootball MS all-stater, Jason Perry, to see some action tonight on both the offensive and defensive fronts.
Coaches around the program have been thrilled with Dillon Spencer’s development. He has made some SportsCenter-type blocks in the preseason leading up to tonight.
“Geeny” Collins is gone. Those carries will be divided up between freshman, Caden Bowling, and senior, Lane Weddle. Bowling was a KPGFootball MS all-stater a year ago and Weddle was Honorably Mentioned to the AP's All-State team.
Defensively, the Bobcats look to go William Long at nose, with Teegan Smith and Colton Herald flanking Long in the 3-down, defensive front. Darren Noble has been impressive at linebacker this preseason as has “Bloody or Muddy,” Ethan Gibson. It is expected we will see a lot of both Caden Bowling and Bryce Hoskins on that level of the defense tonight too.
Jaylen Turner, Bradley Hall, Lane Weddle, and Blake Ritchie will get first crack at manning the 3rd-level. This level of the defense led the commonwealth a year ago in interceptions.
Projected Regular Season record: 7-1
Undefeated Season probability: 51%
Now for the Estill Engineers…
Estill is coached by Mike Jones and the Class 3A, District 5 team is coming off a 5-6 year but one where they finished 3-3 in district play and 4-3 against 3A teams. Estill is ranked the 27th-best team in the 3A classification. They are ranked 146 out of Kentucky’s 223-teams, all classifications.
Estill lost Justin Stamper who was their leading rusher a year ago. Stamper had nearly 1,300 yards rushing, in 2019, with 10-rushing TDs. Ty Niece, a really fine dual-threat QB, returns. Niece threw for 885-yards, in 2019, but is also the leading returning ground gainer. Niece had 725-yards rushing, last season, with 14-rushing TDs.
Top receiving target Coben Clem returns. He led the team in receptions a year ago.
Defensively, the Engineers are largely in-tact from what they aligned last season. Top defender Braeden Waddle is back at linebacker. Waddle led the team, in 2019, with 100-tackles.
A DE, who doubles on offense as a TE, Dylan Long, returns. Long led the team in QB-sacks a year ago. Jonathan Short, the top pick-off artist on the defense’s 3rd level, will be patrolling at the same depth tonight looking for errant passes.
Projected Regular Season record: 3-5
Undefeated Season probability: less than 1%
On a neutral field: According to the CalPreps.com computer algorithm, Breathitt wins this game, on a neutral field, 52-8.
Our pick: There should be a fair amount of offensive rust from limited preparation time and the game is being played in Irvine, Kentucky, which is Estill’s home field. Home field isn’t deemed an advantage for nothing. We are picking the Bobcats to win tonight 48-14.