For the Daily News
BELFRY, Ky. - Belfry beats Pike Central 35-0 to capture the school’s 7th county championship in 9 years.
On Thursday Night, tradition rich Vipperman Stadium hosted the Pike County Middle School Championship for the first time. Fittingly, in the home of Belfry High’s only two state championship teams, the Pirates won their 7th county title since the school opened in 2005 by a score of 35-0. Belfry defeated Pike Central in the regular season 41-12, as well as Pikeville 49-28, to go 3-0 in the county regular season after Shelby Valley forfeited the scheduled game between the two. The Pirates improve to 4-0 with the Championship win but could see the Hawks possibly twice in the conference and state playoffs.
Offensively, the Middle School Pirates were led by halfback Devin Varney who took three of his eleven carries to the house for touchdowns as well as racking up 168 yards rushing. However, the Pirates are not a one man show. Hard-running halfback Justin Adkins #13 came in just under 100 yards on the night with seven carries, he also hit pay-dirt with a 46 yard touchdown carry. Justin also added two catches for 36 yards, and had called back what would have been a touchdown catch but his helmet was ripped off on the play. The Pirates fullback Derek Wellman chipped in 52 hard earned yards on four carries. The other horse in the Pond Creek Halfback Stable is lightning fast Taveon Hunter who had 5 carries for 48 yards, and added a kickoff return TD and picked off a Seth Conn pass early in the game. Big fullback #22 Preston Stump added 47 yards on 5 carries. Quarterback Avery Browning went 2-4 for passing for 36 yards. Kicker Ryan Jessie went 2/2 on extra points and helped pin the Hawks deep several times with the help of his kickoff coverage including making two tackles himself. As always, the Pirate coaches expressed how well their offensive line played opening holes for their talented running backs. Caleb Lewis, Austin Fields, Lee McCoy, Zack Curry, and Austin Blankenship paved the way for the rushing success.
Defensively, Coach Thacker insisted that statistics were not important on Thursday. Coach Elbert Thacker, who has now led the Pirates to back-to-back county titles in his first two seasons as head coach, said “Every kid that played defense came out with an aggressive mentality and played every down with a physical attitude. They showed up ready to play and were able to stop a good Pike Central offense featuring one the best quarterbacks I’ve seen at this level” That physical attitude sent the message early as the pads could be heard popping from anywhere in Vipperman Stadium. Thacker went on to say “I could list that Wellman and Stump led the team in tackles, Hunter had an interception, and Sesco and Runyon had a sack but those individual achievements do not compare to what these kids on defense accomplished as a team. They played like champions tonight and that’s what we ask of them and expect from them every game for the rest of the season.”
Those defense players that set the tone that Coach Thacker spoke of were Chase Runyon, Curry, Braxton Miller, Mikey Sesco, Zack Gibbs, Josh Keathley, Derek Wellman, Preston Stump, Avery Browning, Varney, Justin Adkins, and Hunter.
The Pirates head into the Big Sandy Conference playoffs with a 10-1 record, the lone loss coming at the hands of conference foe Johnson Central in double overtime. Coach Thacker also stated that there isn’t much time to enjoy the county championship, because the quest for a conference title began on Saturday. BMS was to take on the winner of Magoffin County/Betsy Layne on Saturday at home, for the right to advance to semi-finals which will also be at Belfry Middle on Tuesday. Should the Pirates win both, they will play in the Conference Championship Saturday, October 5th at Prestonsburg High.