INEZ, Ky. – On paper it doesn’t look to be much of a game when Belfry takes on Sheldon Clark in the first district football match-up of the season.
The Pirates are ranked No. 1 in Class 3A in the state and head into the game with a 4-0 record. They own wins over two powerful Class 5A schools, Harlan County and Southwestern of Pulaski County.
In the meantime, the Cardinals have been struggling. Coach Shawn Hager has a young team and lost most of his starters from last year’s squad. They head into the home contest in Inez, Ky. with a record of 0-4.
Sheldon Clark has given up 194 points in the four games and their young offense has only been able to muster 22 points. Twice the Martin County bunch has been shutout this season.
On the other hand, Belfry has rolled up 153 points in four games. The Pirate defense has given up 71 points, but many of those have been against the younger, second string defense.
Belfry’s patented running game is led by seniors Justin Johnson and Trenity Carr, and junior Austin Hatfield. Johnson has 452 yards rushing and has scored five touchdowns (TDs) so far this season. Carr has four TDs and 133 yards rushing, while Hatfield has 342 yards and a pair of scores. Sophomore Xondre Willis and freshman Andrew Fletcher have also gotten some carries. Willis has 131 yards and two TDs, while Fletcher has 121 yards and couple of TDs.
Senior quarterback Sani Warren guides the offense. He is also a threat to run the ball. Warren has 92 yards and three rushing touchdowns. The signal caller has 248 passing yards, two TD passes and only one interception so far this season. He is 14-31 passing for 45 percent.
On defense Belfry is led by Hayden Hatfield, Joey Duty, Dakota Stanley, Michael Barnes, Austin Hall and Zack Thompson. A host of other Pirates have multiple tackles this season.
As usual head coach Philip Haywood says his squad keeps getting better each day in practice and each week.
“We just try to get a little better every time we practice,” Haywood said.
For the most part, he has been pleased with his team’s performance. But the veteran coach always says there is room for improvement, especially on defense and with blocking schemes.
Because of graduation, he had several starting spots to fill this year, especially on the offensive line. The only returning starter is senior center Macky Francis.
Haywood has been playing several freshmen this season including Fletcher, Hall, Cole Bentley, Cameron Catron, Raquan Horton and others who played on the state middle school championship squad last season.
Freshman kicker Austin Woolum is a perfect 22-22 on his extra-point kicks. He also has a 21 yard field goal to his credit. Woolum has scored 25 points and only trails Johnson in total points scored after four games.