SOMERSET, Ky. - The Belfry Pirates will be taking a lengthy road trip this Friday to kick off the start of the 2019 regular season as they will play Southwestern in the nightcap of the Don Franklin Bowl at Southwestern High School in Somerset.
The Warriors compete in Class 5A and won 10 games a season ago as they finished with a record of 10-3 after starting the season off 8-0. They underwent some change in the off-season however as first year coach Jason Foley took over the reins from previous coach Larry French who left for Middlesboro.
Foley, who came over from Taylor County, will have a tough task in his first season in replacing senior quarterback from a year ago in Drew Salyers who finished with over 1,100 passing yards, 1,200 rushing yards, and 20 touchdowns but was lost to graduation.
During the off-season, Foley has been working a couple of guys under center including senior athlete Xavier Street. Street started every game on the defensive side a season ago, leading the team with four interceptions and made 37 tackles, and played sparingly at running back and wide receiver but expects to see the ball in his hands a lot more this fall.
Senior Kenny Robinson has also been featured on defense for the past two seasons but has been taking reps at quarterback leading up to the season.
Foley will have back second leading rusher from a season ago in Chase Doan, who will only be a sophomore. Doan ran the ball 145 times for 916 yards and 10 scores a season ago as a freshman. Junior Dylan Bland is also back at running back after he ran 77 times for 713 yards and nine scores in 2018.
Leading tackler Austin Barnes also returns for his senior season at linebacker where he had 93 tackles in 2018 including six sacks and nine total tackles for loss. Fellow linebacker Rowan Pennington is also back after he made 88 tackles a season ago.
The Warriors ranked sixth in Class 5A in points allowed per game a season ago, allowing only 12.4 points per contest. They also finished in the top 10 in picking off the quarterback, snagging an interception 13 times.
This will be the first time since the 2010 season that the Pirates are playing a "week zero" game. They only have a nine game slate in 2019 and will have bye weeks on the week of Sept. 6 and again the week of Oct. 11.
Belfry and Southwestern will be the second of two games in the Don Franklin Bowl, as Lexington Catholic will be playing Pulaski County in the opener at 6 p.m., and then the Pirates and the Warriors will kick off at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Belfry is 3-0 all-time against Southwestern winning 34-16 at Al Vipperman Stadium in the playoffs back in 1997 and then 38-27 at Southwestern in 2013, and 28-7 on the road again in 2014. The Pirates opened the season ranked at No. 2 in the Herald Leader Coaches Poll behind the defending Class 2A champion Christian Academy of Louisville who made the jump up to class 3A this year.
Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.