PAINTSVILLE – To no surprise, the state’s leading program kept their dominance alive, as Johnson Central (6-0) stomped the Tigers (3-3) 44-0 on Thursday night. The loss doesn’t sting nearly as bad, as this group of Tigers still sit at .500 with a chance to produce the first winning season in Clay County since 2011.
Clay County was without star running back Chandler Hibbard, who suffered a shoulder injury in last week’s matchup against Harlan County. The Tigers only mustered up 132 yards on the ground, and 46 through the air. The Johnson Central defense is known for being one of the stingiest in the state, and they showed that the hype is for real.
Tiger coach Mike Sizemore tipped his cap to the Golden Eagles, as he knows they are a top program for a reason. “Johnson Central is a great high school football team right now, and our guys got to experience what it’s like to play an elite team in our state,” he said. “They are not only the one of the top teams in 4A but a top team in the state regardless of class. Our guys went over there and played hard against a high-level opponent and hopefully our kids see where the bar is when it comes to football in our state by being on the field with those guys and how we need to keep working to make up ground on some of the elite.”
The Tiger backfield failed to meet their typical standard, but still produced in flashes. “Ben Meadows had another great game this week and done a great job carrying the football for us,” said Sizemore. “DJ McCulley was able to pick up some tough yards to keep the chains moving the way he’s done all year. I thought Raven Abner probably played the best game I have seen him play in how he fought and clawed for every yard against those guys and I feel he truly got better playing against that type of competition.”
Despite the 44-0 loss, Coach Sizemore saw numerous things that the Tiger Football program could potentially replicate for future success. “Right now, Johnson Central is an elite football program that has been building for 16 years since their coach got there and it really shows,” said Sizemore. “We are a little over two years into our system here, so they’ve got a huge head start on us. We have come a long way and we are proud of the progress that we have made but we also see where we want to be in the future. We want to get to that level and we are off to a great start, but we have to be able to continue with the consistency, hard work, and drive to constantly stay at it and constantly improve, which we have done so far and if we keep it up over time we are going to see our football program continue to grow and improve.”