LIBERTY — Casey County is venturing into uncharted territory this week, but even playing at three-time state champion Breathitt County is not overwhelming this record-setting team.
“It’s something that we are enjoying. I feel like we’re playing hard right now and doing some of the things you have to do to win. We should have plenty of confidence this Friday,” said Casey coach Andy Stephens, whose Rebels play at Breathitt in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.
Casey (8-3) earned its first playoff win by beating Powell County 27-6, setting a school record for wins in the process. But getting a ninth win against the No. 7 Bobcats (7-4) is going to be a tough task in the Class AAA playoffs.
Breathitt beat Wayne County 53-26 last week. The Bobcats ended the regular season averaging 16 points and 326 yards per game. Casey’s defense, meanwhile, is allowing just 184 yards and 15 points a game. Tyler Hayes has four interceptions, and Corey Roy and Will Hatter each have three.
Breathitt quarterback Richard Trent is the team’s top playmaker in coach Mike Holcomb’s spread offense. In the regular season, he rushed 168 times for 1,059 yards and 14 touchdowns and was 67 of 145 passing for 939 yards and eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Against Wayne, he ran for 203 yards on 17 carries and four touchdowns.
“He is a solid quarterback. He’s a strong, hard runner that is difficult to tackle,” Stephens said of Trent. “He does a good job throwing the ball and even better job running the football. We have to account for him as a ball carrier on every snap.”
William Collins had 96 carries for 845 yards and 10 scores and 16 catches for 138 yards and a score. Josh Fletcher has 17 catches for 471 yards and seven touchdowns and Ryan Cox has 10 receptions for 105 yards.
“Collins is a good running back, and Fletcher is very quick and athletic for them,” Stephens said.
The Breathitt defense has given up its share of points, allowing 25 points and 307 yards per game during the regular season.
“On defense, they are very aggressive. They like to bring pressure and try to disrupt the offense,” Stephens said.
Not much has interrupted the Casey offense, which is averaging 26 points and 344 yards per game.
The Rebels have two 1,000-yard backs in Roy (1,114, 10 touchdowns) and Alex Bolin (1,109 yards, 16 touchdowns) and average 305 yards per game on the ground.
Hatter has 603 yards and three scores rushing, and is 26 of 77 passing for 427 yards and six touchdowns and five interceptions. Hayes has nine catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns, Roy has six receptions for 61 yards and a score, Cody Denson has five catches for 69 yards and James Burton has caught four passes for 63 yards and a score.
Stephens said his offensive line has been a huge reason the Rebels have been able to move the ball so easily this season, and that needs to continue against Breathitt.
“Right now I think were playing good up front. We have been able to control the line of scrimmage the last few games on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Our backs are doing a good job of hitting the holes downhill and getting us yardage.”
Stephens said Casey must also match the physical play Breathitt typically brings.
“We have to play physical Friday night and take care of the football,” he said. “We have to get a crowd to the ball when they run it and do a good job tackling."