Pulaski County’s football team will hit the road for the first time this season as it travels south down I-81 to Abingdon. It will be the first time in the 43-year history of the school that the Cougars have ever met the Falcons on the gridiron. Fresh off a big, 62-19 win over William Fleming last week to move its record to 1-1 on the young season, Pulaski Co. will now face a 2-0 Abingdon team that has taken the measure of John Battle, 33-26, and Gate City last Friday, 28-7.
The Falcons, under Darren Reed, have posted an overall 28-7 record over the past three seasons, and have averaged 37.8 points in the process. The Falcons were 9-2 in 2016. So it would appear that Pulaski County has a good night’s work to do.
However, improvement was apparent for the Cougars last week, rushing for 330 yards, and totaling 504 yards of offense while the defense allowed only a single yard rushing to Fleming.
“Some things helped us,” said head coach Stephen James this week. “We moved some things around in the offensive line, made a couple changes on the defensive front, and we were able to keep everybody pretty fresh at the line of scrimmage, and we were pleased.”
Abingdon runs mostly out of a winged-T set, but also can lineup in a wishbone and split backs as well. The Falcons have gotten used to winning.
“They have a nice program and are easily the most dominant program from their region,” says James. “They mix things up pretty well, have good size up front, and can make plays. We’ll need to be ready to go.”
The Cougars will go without a couple players. Senior D.J. Gathers, a guard and outside linebacker is gone for the season, and sophomore Logan Fox is out with a shoulder strain. Both played the same right guard position and in an area where the Cougars are thin, things just got very thin.
“We’ll miss D.J. He probably had the finest game of his career last week against Fleming. We’re hoping Fox will return soon. We’re going to start Travis Byrd at that guard spot and have been working with Alex Akers as well. We’ll line up and play,” smiled James.
Abingdon resembles Northside at the line of scrimmage with two big tackles, Gage Bassham, 6-5, 285, and Major Cook, 6-3, 285. Also, Travis Fudge, Chris Largen, and Tanner Humbert average out at 240. Linebacker Tyler Thayer leads the defense.
The starting lineup for Pulaski County on offense will have 5-11, 250 junior Jaxon Callahan at center, the guards will be 6-1, 240 junior Cody Talbert and 5-9, 235 senior Travis Byrd. The tackles will be a pair of seniors, 6-0, 270 Brody Fields, and 6-3, 270 Chandler Dunnigan. The tight end is 6-3, 215 Noah Bradley. The wide receivers will be either Kellen Dalton, a 6-0, 150 senior, E.J. Horton, a 6-0, 160 junior, Mason Clark, a 5-8, 160 senior, Braeden Blevins, a 6-=3, 165 senior, or Noah O’Dell, a 6-2, 175 junior. The punter will be Conner Martin, and the field goal kicker Ryan Castle. The tailback will be 5-11, 200 senior Jaceri Eaves, or 5-11, 180 senior Jaylin Nowlin. The quarterback is 6-2, 210 junior Kade Akers.
The starting defense for the Cougars will have John Minnick, a 6-0, 280 senior at the nose tackle position, and a group of three players, 5-10, 190 junior Ben Arnett, 5-9, 180 junior Camden Mariotti, and 5-9, 255 junior Carter Murray will rotate at the other two down tackle spots. The outside linebacker/ends will be Sean Spencer, a 6-0, 210 senior, and Jaceri Eaves, a 5-11, 200 senior.
The inside linebackers for the Cougars will be 5-10, 190 senior Alex Akers, and 5-8, 195 senior Reymon Williams. The backup is 5-4, 175 junior Matt Click. The secondary will be a rotation of Dalton, Horton, Martin, Nowlin, 6-2, 170 sophomore James Jackson, 5-10, 180 sophomore Gage Mannon, and O’Dell.
Cougar Paws: D.J. Gathers, a 6-2, 210 senior offensive lineman and outside linebacker for Pulaski Co. has suffered a finger injury that will require surgery and is lost for the season……….If you are traveling to the game, take the Abingdon/Damascus exit off I-81, turn right and just after crossing a bridge approximately one mile later, turn right toward Abingdon High School. It will be located on the right, and the football stadium is behind the school. It is a nice facility with plenty of seating. There is also plenty of parking…………..In other important games involving Class 4, Region D teams and River Ridge opponents, Jefferson-Forest will be at GW-Danville, Blacksburg will travel to Amherst, Salem is at Dinwiddie, E.C. Glass plays at Franklin County, Harrisonburg travels to Charlottesville, Hidden Valley plays at Northside, and Cave Spring is on the road at Glenvar………………If you are unable to make the trip to Abingdon, the Pulaski County game at Abingdon will be broadcast live on NASH/PSK 107.1-FM. Airtime will be 6:30 with the Insurance Center of Dublin Pregame Show. Next Friday, the Cougars will journey to Hillsville to play Carroll County.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot