Pulaski County’s football team will likely face its toughest test of the season so far Friday night down in Abingdon. The Falcons are 2-0, and fresh off a big win on the road at Gate City. The Cougars also come into the game with a 2-0 record after wins over Northside and Bassett. It will be the first time away from Dobson Stadium for the Cougars.
The major obstacle for Pulaski County is obvious. It’s 6-2, 230 tailback Martin Lucas. He had a good game last season against the Cougars, finished with over 1,200 yards rushing in 2018, gained 15 lbs. and is averaging 200 yards a game this season after scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 218 yards last week at Gate City. Lucas is a power back with speed.
“It’s obvious what our major assignment is for this game,” says PCHS head coach Stephen James. “We must contain Lucas. Our defense has played very well for us the first two games, and certainly it will have to do the same at Abingdon. It’s a challenge. Lucas is a big time running back. We’ll see if we can handle him. But he’s not all they have. Abingdon can throw the football as well. Our secondary will be tested too. So we have a big assignment defensively,” added James.
Should Abingdon be able to move the ball offensively it would then become imperative for the Cougars to do the same. “It is true that teams usually improve the most from game one to game two,” says James, “however, I think we will learn if we have improved offensively a lot more this week as opposed to last week. Abingdon is big up front. There will be a battle at the line of scrimmage, and we will need to win it. It is good that our quarterback A.J. McCloud got a game under his belt last week,” added James.
Falcon coach Garrett Amburgey is high on Lucas and his team. “Martin is very versatile, and can do a lot of things. He runs hard. You have to tackle him. He doesn’t let just one guy tackle him. He has gotten bigger and stronger. Our entire team is bigger and stronger, and our weight program has been a huge benefit.”
Amburgey says his squad is deep. “We feel like we have a lot of depth. We can play a lot of people. A lot of places we are two and three deep. We are very deep in the secondary. A lot of our players are athletic and can move around. Our guys know our schedule is a challenge, but we want to test ourselves against good teams. That gets you ready for the battles in the playoffs. that’s what it’s about. Our guys are ready for that challenge.”
In addition to Lucas, the pile driving tailback, there is plenty up front for the Falcons in 6-3, 302 Major Cook, 6-2, 250 Dylan Hale, 6-2, 265 Tyler Mullins, and 5-9, 283 Estevan Perez. Defensively, Abingdon is led by linebackers Jake Johnson, 5-11, 203 and Eli Ratcliffe, 6-2, 210. The 9-3 Falcons of last season also return firepower at quarterback and wide receiver. Jadon Boothe is the signal caller and he connected with River Carter 45 times last season for 324 yards. Ethan Doane caught a 48-yard touchdown pass last week.
The two teams have met twice in Cougar football history. PCHS won 27-20 at Abingdon in 1017, and at home last season, 42-14. The all time record for the Pulaski County football program after last week is 319 wins, 183 losses, and three ties.
The starting lineup for Pulaski County offensively will be Caleb Perfater, a 6-0, 180 sophomore at tight end, the tackles will be 6-3, 280 junior Cooper Dunnigan and 6-2, 287 jr. Clayton Phillips, the guards are 6-0, 275 jr. Jacob Turman and 6-1, 275 soph. Markus Wright. The center is 6-0, 290 jr. Levi Young. The quarterback will be 6-3, 185 jr. A.J. McCloud, the running backs can be any combination of 5-10, 180 soph. Keyontae Kennedy, 5-11, 185 jr. Jakari Finley, 6-0, 195 sr. Gage Mannon, or 5-11, 185 sr. Luke Russell. The wideouts will be a combination of 5-8, 180 sr. Logan Burchett, 5-10, 180- sr. Landon McDaniel, 6-2, 185 jr. Layne Suthers, or 5-8, 165 soph. John Lyman. The kicker and punter is Broc Simpson.
Defensively, the Cougars will line up 5-10, 250 sr. Tyler Brookman at the nose, the down tackles will be 6-2, 290 jr. Zeke Surber, and 5-10, 195 sr. Tristan Bowden. The outside linebackers will be 5-9, 185 jr. Ethan Gallimore, and 5-11, 185 jr. Jakari Finley. The inside linebackers will be 5-9, 205 sr. Austin Gallimore, and 5-11, 185 sr. Luke Russell. The corners will be 5-11, 180 jr. Corvin Carter and 6-2, 185 jr. Layne Suthers. The safeties will be Mannon and 5-11, 190 sr. Chris Shay. Chayton Rollins and Caleb Perfater are likely to see some action at linebacker, and Chase Dotson in the secondary.
Cougar Game Notes:
Tickets will go on sale at Abingdon’s stadium at 5:30. … If you cannot make the trip down I-81 to Abingdon, you can listen to the game live on 107 Country PSK, or on the WPSK website on your computer. Airtime is 6:15 with the pregame show featuring an interview with coach James. … In other games of interest to Pulaski County Friday, Amherst will play at Blacksburg, Jefferson Forest will travel to GW-Danville, Lord Botetourt will host Bluefield, W.Va., Northside will play at Hidden Valley, Glenvar will host Cave Spring, Patrick Henry will play at Christiansburg, Patrick Henry is on the road at Albemarle, William Byrd will play at Bassett, and E.C. Glass will visit Franklin County.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot