Pulaski County’s football team returns home to Dobson Stadium Friday evening to take on longtime rival Cave Spring. This will be the first game at home in three weeks and the Cougars will be back on the road next week.
Pulaski Co. is 4-0 on the season after surviving a close call, 19-14 at Wm. Byrd last Friday. Cave is 1-3 after a win over Alleghany last week. This will be the 44th time the two schools have met on the gridiron. Pulaski County holds the series lead 29-14. The Cougars have won the last four straight over the Knights. The most points ever scored by a PCHS team vs. Cave came in 1993 and 1995, 49. The Knights scored 49 on the Cougars in 2000. Pulaski Co. has posted eight shutouts in the series.
Last week’s game at Byrd had a tough beginning for the Cougars. Landon McDaniel was lost to the team with leg injury for the season on the opening kickoff. “We had a tough time dealing with that,” said head coach Stephen James this week. “Landon is a very solid part of our team. He’s a very well-liked young man. He’s a senior. You hate this for him. It had an impact on our team. You can say focus up, but that’s easier said than done. The first half was pretty much a haze. We didn’t play very well.”
The second half changed. The defense continues to play outstanding, created turnovers, and the game got very physical. The Pulaski Co. running game was shut down. From the middle of the third quarter until the end of the game, the Cougar offense was almost exclusively the pass. Logan Burchett, Layne Suthers, and Chase Dotson came up big, made crucial catches.
“They sure did,” said James. “It’s good to see those kids step up and come through when we needed it the most. I also think it says something about our team, and that’s that we are a team. We’ve got some kids that can come through, and they might make a big play on offense or defense.”
Quarterback A.J. McCloud seems to have steadied the offense, and while the tough catches had to be made, he threw the passes, and it’s obvious he has difficulty at time with his sore shoulder. “Yes, A.J. has been solid, and we’re trying to give him rest during the week as much as we can. I think he’s going to be okay, but it would be good if can take some of the pressure off and run the ball better,” added James.
Even when things look good, very good after a rousing win at Abingdon the week before, James says last Friday at Byrd is just a reminder of what the season is going to be like. “The teams in the River Ridge like to beat Pulaski County. We’re going to get somebody’s best shot every week. There are a lot of battles to be won down the road, and nothing will come easy, it never has,” said James.
Offensively, Dotson will step in for McDaniel at one wide receiver spot along with Burchett and Suthers. The front line will have Cooper Dunnigan (6-3, 280) and Clay Phillips (6-2, 287) at the tackles, the guards will be Markus Wright (6-1, 285) and Jacob Turman (6-0, 275), and the center is Levi Young, 6-0, 280. McCloud is the quarterback, Chris Shay (5-11, 190), Gage Mannon (6-0, 195), Keyontae Kennedy (5-10, 180), Luke Russell (5-11, 185), Austin Gallimore (5-9, 205), and possibly Chayton Rollins, 6-3, 220 could all see time in the backfield.
Defensively the Cougars will lineup Zeke Surber (6-2, 290), Tyler Brookman (5-10, 250), and Tristan Bowden (5-10, 195) at the interior three spots, Rollins and Ethan Gallimore (5-9, 185) will be the combo edge players, the inside backers will be Austin Gallimore and Russell. The secondary will have Mannon, Shay, Suthers, Corvin Carter (5-11, 180), Burchett, and Dotson all seeing plenty of playing time. Broc Simpson will do the punting and kicking.
Game Notes: The ticket gate to Dobson Stadium will open at 5:30. … If you cannot make it out to the game, it will be broadcast live on 107 Country PSK. Airtime will be 6:15 with the pregame show. … In other games of interest to Pulaski County, Salem is at Blacksburg Thursday evening, Galax plays at Northside, Wm. Byrd plays at Patrick Henry, Hidden Valley travels to Franklin County, Abingdon plays at Tennessee High, Bassett travels to Patrick County, GW-Danville is at Tunstall, and E.C. Glass travels to Rustburg.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot