GOODY, Ky. - Although it is just March, it is never too early to get excited for football season on Pond Creek.
The Belfry Pirates and coach Philip Haywood have released their schedule for the upcoming 2019 football season and they will once again face another challenging slate of games.
The Pirates 10 game schedule will look fairly different this season than in years past as they will play five teams in 2019 that were not on the schedule a season ago.
In fact, there first four games to start off the season will all come against new opponents.
Belfry will open the season up on August 23 by playing Class 5A Southwestern in the Don Franklin Bowl at Pulaski County High School. This Bowl is annually one of most looked forward to events in central Kentucky on the opening weekend of the high school football season every year.
The Warriors were 10-3 a season ago falling in the Region final to rival Pulaski County 13-6.
The Bucs will then return home in week two for the annual Pike County Bowl where this year they will host class 2A Lexington Christian.
The Eagles were 9-4 last year falling to Somerset in the playoffs 35-31.
They played Pikeville last year on Saturday in the Pike County Bowl and the Panthers beat them 50-7.
The Pirates will then face two teams from Ohio in back-to-back weeks as they picked up games with Bishop Sycamore High School out of Columbus and Archbishop Alter High School from Kettering, Ohio which is just outside of Dayton.
They will host Bishop Sycamore while they will have to make the long trip up to play at Archbishop Alter.
This will be the first season of existence for Bishop Sycamore as a school or as a football program as they are a start up non-charter school aimed at offering kids in the inner city of Columbus a better means at an education and also top level football.
It appears Bishop Sycamore is a re-boot of the Christians of Faith (COF) Academy out of Columbus that played its first season last year as the same type of school.
Last year as COF they played a loaded schedule including traditional Ohio powers Huber Heights Wayne, Cleveland St. Ignatius, and Lakewood St. Edward and such major out-of-state programs as North Alleghany in Wexford, Pennsylvania, and IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Last season, the Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled on September 21 that the COF Academy was no longer considered a school and would not count towards points in the Ohio state playoffs.
They did however play out the majority of their remaining games, but finished with a 1-9 record against the daunting schedule.
It appears under a different name, the start up school will once again play a loaded schedule against powerhouse opponents, as they are set the visit Pond Creek in the first week of September.
The Pirates next opponent, Archbishop Alter went 13-2 last year and finished as runner-up in Division III. They are a traditional Ohio power winning state titles in 2008 and 2009 while also finishing runner-up in 2006 and 2014.
After the long road trip Belfry will return home to play rival Pikeville.
The Panthers of course went 11-3 in 2018 and finished just short of the Class A state title losing 21-20 to Beechwood in the title game.
The Pirates gave the Panthers one of those three losses winning 36-21 at the Hambley Athletic Complex.
After the tussle with the Panthers, Belfry will begin their slate of four district games by hosting Magoffin County on September 27. The Hornets took the place of Sheldon Clark who dropped down to Class 2A.
The Pirates will then travel to Floyd Central for just the second time in school history before seeing their bye week coming the following week.
This will be different for the Pirates and coach Haywood as they are typically used to having their bye week in the first week of the season which gives them an extra week to practice.
This will be the first time since 2010 that the Belfry schedule featured a bye-week during the middle of the season.
Following the bye, Belfry will host Lawrence County before heading to Pike Central to close out District play.
The regular season finale will come the following week and it is always one of the most anticipated games in the Bluegrass State.
Class 4A power Johnson Central and coach Jim Matney will make the short trek from Paintsville to Belfry to tussle with the Pirates.
The Golden Eagles finished 13-2 last season and were runner-up in Class 4A falling to Franklin Simpson by a final of 14-12. They have played in the past four 4A state championships, winning it all in 2016.
Coach Haywood will be back for his 45th season on the sidelines coaching high school football in Kentucky and his 36th season on Pond Creek.
He is the winningest football coach in the history of the Bluegrass state with a career record of 438-134.
He has led Belfry to the state championship 12 times, winning back-to-back state titles in 2003-2004 in Class 2A and then winning four straight from 2013-2016 in Class 3A.
The Pirates have lost in the Regional final round the past two seasons after playing in seven straight state championship games from 2010-2016.
Belfry High School 2019 Football Schedule
Aug. 23 Southwestern (Don Franklin Bowl) @ Pulaski County 8 p.m.
Aug. 30 Lexington Christian (Pike Co. Bowl) HOME 8:30 p.m
Sep. 06 Bishop Sycamore (Columbus, Ohio) HOME 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 13 Archbishop Alter (Kettering, Ohio) Away 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 20 Pikeville HOME 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 27 Magoffin County HOME 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 04 Floyd Central Away 7:30 p.m.
OCT. 11 OPEN (No Game)
Oct. 18 Lawrence County HOME 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 Pike Central Away 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 01 Johnson Central HOME 7:30 p.m.
Jarrid McCormick is a sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.