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High School Football Recap:

By DAN CALLAHAN
SWT Sports Writer 
 
38-0! In one of its most dominating wins ever in a big game and against long time rival Salem, Pulaski County was totally superior in every phase on its way to a shocking, 38-0 victory over the Spartans Friday night in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium / Joel Hicks Field.
The win ranks among the greatest in the all-time history of the Pulaski County football program. The Cougars are now a perfect undefeated 12-0 on the 2008 season — that’s only the second time in school history that has happened. They have won the River Ridge District championship, and now the Region Four championship.
They will now play in a state semi-final game (against Amherst) for the seventh time in school history, they now lead the series against their old rival (Salem) 18-16, and they did it with the third shutout of the season, and the triumph was every bit as dominating as the 38-0 score indicates it was.
Nubian Peak rushed for 221 yards, and Pulaski County ran on the frozen ground for 350 yards. Salem managed just 86 total yards of offense against what has become a Cougar defensive unit that just smashes and mangles opponents. There was another fumble recovery by Austin Cox and an eighth pass interception by Zane Quesenberry, a pick and return for six by Antwyne Calfee, and more quarterback sacks by an intimidating front four, and just all-around outstanding physical play by a defense and a team that appears to still be getting better even while the playoffs are underway this late in the season.
“I’m certainly proud of everybody and the effort that was given out on that football field tonight,’’ said head coach Jack Turner following the game in the Cougar locker room. It was surprising that not one word was said about how cold it was or the elements. The team just entered the locker room, and it was evident how proud the players were of their accomplishment, and how focused this team has become.
“I think our defensive coaching staff did a masterful job preparing the team for this game, and each week I feel a greater sense of pride about our players. This is a great group of young men and a special senior class. There will come a time when I’ll have a lot to say to all of them, but right now we must stay focused. We were ready and we did the job, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry.’’
Turner was of course talking about two-time defending state champion Amherst who was a lopsided winner over Jefferson-Forest in the Region 3 title game Friday.
“Friday will be one the toughest challenges this program has ever faced, but this is a special time, a special team, and a special season. It’s a great time in the history of our program, but we must stay focused. We’ve done a super job, but we must continue on. We must get ready. The challenge will get greater every week, but so will the reward. I’m proud of everybody,’’ said Turner.
One of the highlights for Salem was a game opening kickoff that resulted in a fumble, but Pulaski County was not able to take advantage — but the Cougars didn’t miss often this cold, windy evening.
On the second possession Pulaski County moved 58 yards in eight plays with fullback E.J. Dobbins sweeping left to the end zone from six yards out. Matt Songer’s good right foot made the score 7-0 with 5:51 left in the first quarter. Dobbins carried the mail four straight times during the touchdown march, and five times total on the possession for 37 yards.
Salem had to punt quickly again and this time Peak must have decided he wanted to work up a sweat to combat the cold temperature because he turned the right corner and outran the Spartan defense 67 yards to paydirt. Songer made it 14-0 with an even minute left in the opening stanza.
The two teams swapped possessions until Salem took over as its own 11. Quarterback Hunter Sturgill who was ineffective trying to pass in the poor weather conditions the whole game, threw into the right flat on second down from the 12, but his intended receiver Reggie Barnette appeared to be off timing with his quarterback and he suddenly fell to the ground. Antwyn Calfee, playing cornerback on that side of the field for the Cougars, stepped up and the pass hit him square in the chest and 20 yards later the score was 21-0 and the rout was on.
The longest drive came on Pulaski County’s final possession of the opening half. It took 16 plays for the Cougars to march 77 yards. There were no real long gainers, but a crucial play in the drive was a third down, 14-yard run by Jolly Martin to the Spartan 16 with less than a minute left before halftime. On fourth down with time running out Pulaski County rushed its field goal kicking unit on the field and Songer just cleared the crossbar from 28 yards out with his second three-pointer of the season as the horn sounded for a stunning 24-0 halftime lead for the Cougars.
Pulaski County was totally dominating the entire game, but at the half Salem had only 18 total yards of offense, had not crossed the 50 yard line, had just a single first down, and appeared helpless in the effort to block the Cougar defense. In sharp contrast, Peak had 125 yards rushing for the Cougars, Dobbins 50, and the team 216, and 12 first downs.
There were two more quarters to play, but in this frigid weather, this football game was over.
Pulaski County scored again in the third quarter with an 11-play, 58-yard march, and Dobbins bulled over from a yard out. Songer was perfect all night and now the tally was 31-0 with 3:40 on the clock in the third quarter.
Salem didn’t do much better in the second half, but it did finally cross the mid-field stripe with 46 seconds left in the third quarter and got to the Pulaski County 42-yard line for their best possession of the game.
The final score of the game came when Peak set sail for glory land again with 6:31 still on the clock in the fourth quarter. He made a nice cut underneath a blocker on a sweep right and outran the Spartan defense 66 yards to paydirt. Songer’s kick made the final score 38-0 as Pulaski County cleared the bench the rest of the game.
The Cougars had a total offense for the game of 350 yards, all rushing. Peak used 22 carries to get his 221 yards. Dobbins ran 12 times to get his 69 yards, fullback Seth Parris ran 14 times for 33 yards, Martin got 20 yards on three attempts, and a host of others got involved late. Quarterback Luke Watson only attempted two passes on the frozen turf. The Cougars got 17 first downs and did not have a turnover.
Salem got 53 yards rushing on 22 tries, and Sturgill was five of 16 passing for 33 yards, and 86 total yards of offense, their smallest production of the season. Zane Quesenberry and Antwyne Calfee both had interceptions for Pulaski County and Austin Cox had the fumble recovery on the opening kickoff for three more turnovers. The leading rusher for the Spartans was fullback Daniel Dyer and he had only 26 yards, Sturgill had 11, and Antonio Medley eight. Donte Harvey who had nine pass receptions in the first game between the two teams had only two for 15 yards this time, and Salem managed only five first downs for the game.
Officials are looking to see if the state semi-final game against Amherst will be played Friday or Saturday, but nothing had been finalized at press time, and that includes not only the date, but the time of day for the kickoff. Amherst is 11-1 on the season, and has lost but once in the last three seasons, putting their record at 39-1. 

Peak outgains Salem 221-86

By DAN CALLAHAN
SWT Sports Writer 
 
Pulaski County senior halfback Nubian Peak galloped for 221 yards on 22 carries for Pulaski County, putting him at almost 1,500 yards rushing for the season. His numbers alone are far greater than anything the entire Salem team was able to generate. Peak outgained Salem by 135 yards, 221-86!
“I don’t want to sound big headed, but I knew I was going to have a big game, and I felt all week that the team was going to play well, and we were going to have a great game. You never expect to get 200 or go over 200, and I’m thrilled with that, but I have to give a lot of the credit to the offensive line. Those guys are really getting better and our line has improved steadily all season. I love my guys up front.’’
As far as the Salem rivalry and beating the Spartans twice in his senior season, this was the way Peak wanted to go out.
“We didn’t like some of the things that were coming out of Salem during the week. We all know they have an excellent football program, but sometimes you wonder if there’s an attitude problem there. We beat them the first time two weeks ago, but we didn’t feel like they respected us for it. That bothered me. Like I said, Salem has a good team, and they almost always do, and I take nothing away from them, but I just didn’t feel like they respected us. If they want to respect Pulaski County or not, I wanted to earn it, and I think tonight we earned Salem’s respect. I think 38-0 and domination on the field says it all,’’ said Peak.
He continued, “I know the past few years Salem has been on a roll, but this is 2008. This program has worked hard. We worked hard to win this region championship. We respect Salem for the things they have done. We deserve that same respect. Pulaski County has a great football program too. We have great facilities. We have great fans. We have everything anybody else has, and I sure hope all of those people are happy tonight,’’ said Peak.
But things only get more difficult and now the Cougars must face two-time defending state champion Amherst next week. The Lancers already have Peak’s respect, but he says all the Cougars need to do is keep their hat size intact and get ready to play in the Division 4 state semi-final and do the very best they can.
“Just keep on playing baby. Our offensive line just needs to keep knocking ‘em off the ball, and that defense needs to keep playing great, and we’ll be okay. Next week will be very tough, we know that. Heck, none of us have ever played in a state semi-final game, but they tell me if you keep winning and take the next step the next opponent is always the best yet. I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I think this is great. We’re excited. This team is having fun, and we have a great opportunity, but the thing I’m most proud of is how we earned this opportunity. I think we’re all very proud to be 12-0,’’ said Peak.
Two-way senior tackle Josh Miller came in the locker room with a smile as wide as a Cadillac and carrying the region championship trophy. The team gathered in the floor for a very happy photo.
“Region champions, man that’s good. I like saying that. This is the way you want your senior year to be. I know how much it means to all the seniors because I know how I feel inside. I have confidence that this team can get it done, and that we will continue playing well. We wanted to make sure that Salem knew the first time wasn’t luck. I believe everybody knows that now. For a while, Salem has been the best in the River Ridge, but in 2008 they’re not. Pulaski County is the best in the district and the whole region. Next week will be a huge challenge, but this is such a together football team. All we have to do is just stay together and keep doing the same things, get focused and be ready. Pulaski County can play. It’s going to stake a special team to knock us out because I believe the Cougars are a special team,’’ said Miller.
Brandon Hazzard was his usual dominating self on the defensive front, and was in on two more quarterback sacks.
“I thought the game would be tougher, but we went out and really took it to them. A shutout man, and to be 12-0! It’s a dream season. We’ve just got to keep it going. I’m so proud of our team and how we played tonight. The Cougars were ready to play. If anybody had any questions after we won the first game with Salem, we wanted to eliminate any doubt as to who was the best team,’’ said Hazzard. I believe he and his teammates did exactly that.
And big senior (6-3, 360) Langston Lewis continues to bottle up the center of the line from his nose tackle position. Salem simply could not block the big guy.
“I didn’t expect 38-0, but that was the type game we wanted. I think we played at a level that we wanted to play. We practiced hard all week and got ourselves focused on the game. You never really know what to expect, but this team is capable of playing this good every time it takes the field, and I believe we expect to keep playing like this. We’ve won the district, now the region. I’m not sure anybody thought we could win both those, but man, it would be really something to win the state championship,’’ smiled Lewis.
Senior E.J. Dobbins continues to be more of a factor for the Cougars, not only at his strong side linebacker position on defense, but also at fullback. He scored two more touchdowns and finished with 69 yards on 12 carries. One very effective play was the fullback sweep which Pulaski County hadn’t made a big part of the game plan all season.
“It wasn’t a new play, or anything like that,’’ said Dobbins. “It was just ’29-Sweep.’ We practice it all the time. It’s always been in the package, but we just hadn’t run the play all that much, but the coaches thought it looked good against Salem, we went to it and it turned out to be a great play for us. That’s the way this team is. We have a lot of weapons and do a lot of different things. We’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays, and that’s the way it’ll have to be next week against Amherst. We know they will be good. I guess we’ll start looking at them Monday and we’ll need to be very prepared. This season is just so exciting. We’ve got to get ready and keep it going,’’ said Dobbins.
Antwyne Calfee had the game’s easiest touchdown. Salem quarterback Hunter Sturgill was trying to pass to wideout Reggie Barnette. It was an out route in the right flat, but it looked like the timing of the play was out of whack, Barnette went down, Calfee quickly stepped up to pick off Sturgill’s aerial and zipped 20 yards to paydirt in the second quarter.
“It was some kind of curl route,’’ said Calfee. “It looked like the timing of the play was messed up, and the receiver suddenly went down when he bumped into somebody. I moved toward the receiver and suddenly here came the football and he was down. The ball was chest high. I caught it and took it to the end zone. I had a big one (catch for touchdown) against Salem the first time we played, but we messed up and it didn’t count, so I guess this makes up for it. I was so happy I couldn’t quit laughing,’’ said Calfee.
So the worm has turned for the present in the Pulaski County-Salem rivalry. All series do that from time to time. The Spartans had defeated the Cougars seven straight times entering the 2008 season, but that streak has been stopped and Pulaski County ended that streak convincingly. It will turn again, and again over the years, but likely, it will always be very competitive, and very interesting. But right now, the torch belongs to Pulaski County, and it will burn brightly next to that big cornfield, and just to sweeten the pot, the Cougars have also carted off the River Ridge and Region Four trophies with two wins and how sweet it is.
But as head coach Jack Turner said in the locker room following the big victory; “Great preparation by our defensive staff, and the players on this team was a huge part of this victory tonight, and of course, it’s always nice to beat our friends from Salem, and to do it twice in the same year just doubles the pleasure, but we must move on quickly and get ready for the biggest challenge any of us have ever faced next week when we play Amherst.’’
Turner’s assessment is no doubt on target. The Cougars will now face one of the bullies in the state when Amherst comes calling next Friday, but for now, it’s time to have a feeling of great pride for what this team has done.
And then there were only four, and Pulaski County is one of them!

Cougars are without a doubt, Region Four’s finest

Locker Room for Sunday, November 23, 2008 

By Dan Callahan
SWT Sports Writer 

Much of the conversation following Friday’s humbling, 38-0 victory by Pulaski County over Salem centered around was this the worse defeat the Cougars had ever dealt the Spartans?
By numbers alone, no, it wasn’t, however, I seriously doubt if any loss ever hurt Salem more because the numbers in this game do not just begin and end with the final score of the game. Consider these things, Salem did not cross the 50-yard line until less than a minute was left in the third quarter. The Spartans deepest penetration in the entire game was only to the Pulaski County 42. In short, Salem never once was able to move into scoring territory so dominating was the Cougar defense.
It has been said the key in the playoffs and during this time of the year, particularly when you often have to deal with the elements like the teams did Friday, that in order to win you must first run the football and second, stop the run.
Friday at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium / Joel Hicks Field Pulaski County ran, ran, and ran with the pigskin, and the Spartans could not do either, they could not run the football and they couldn’t stop the Cougars from running with it. Sometimes that adds up to scores like 38-0. Salem ran for just 53 yards and had only 86 total yards of offense. Obviously, the Spartans couldn’t pass very well either.
During the week of preparation before the game the word out of the Salem camp was that the Spartans had to be more physical than they were the first time the two teams met with the River Ridge District championship on the line. Pulaski County won that one, 34-24, with an exciting second half rally.
No rally was necessary this time, and the Cougars took the prize a second time far more convincingly than the first, and the prize this time was the Region Four, Division 4 Region Championship and a berth in the state semi-final game against Amherst County at Dobson, likely Friday. It’s been a while since the Pulaski County football program has added any trophies to the display case, but now in 2008 there’s two brand new ones, and one to go, the state championship.
I think the determining factor in game two of this rivalry was very simple. Salem wanted to be more physical. It didn’t look like the Spartans were able to pull that off, but Pulaski County did. The Cougars were certainly the more physical of the two football teams. This game was won at the line scrimmage. Pulaski County’s improving offensive line blocked Salem. When you rush for 350 yards, somebody has to block somebody, at least some of the time. Then on the other side of the coin, the Cougar defensive front just shut down the Spartan offense. Salem couldn’t run, and when they tried to pass, there was pressure. It was physical, it was decided at the line of scrimmage, and the Cougars that play down in the pits got the job done.
Center Tim Wojcik, guards Ralph Miller and Cam Bailey, and tackles Josh Miller and Josh Lambert blocked the Spartans, and the defensive front of Brandon Hazzard, Josh Miller, Jared Cole, and Langston Lewis dominated the Salem offensive line. That’s why one offense moves up and down the field at will, and the other crosses the 50 just once.
I mentioned last week that it appeared even at this late stage of the season that the Cougars still might be getting better, and against Salem, it looked again like that might be the case. The major reason for that is the offensive line.
From the mid-way point of the third quarter in the first game between the two teams until the end of Friday’s night frigid affair, Pulaski County out-scored the Spartans 58-0. As far as the playoffs are concerned toss in last week’s opening round 42-0 flogging of Blacksburg and the Cougars have outscored their two playoff opponents 80-0, and that happens when you get people blocked.
As far as the history of the rivalry between Pulaski County and Salem is concerned the Cougars are now back to an 18-16 lead in the series. As far as the most convincing scores in the series for Pulaski County are concerned, the Cougars defeated Salem 46-7 in 1979, 27-0 in 1980, 40-0 in 1982, 45-6 in 1993 (the most lopsided defeat in Willis White’s coaching career), 28-7 in 2001, and 40-13, again in the 2001 playoffs.
With two wins in the 2001 and now 2008 seasons for Pulaski County, this now means that the two programs have each beaten the other two times in the same season twice. Salem did it in 2005 and 2007.
So the Cougars have beaten the Spartans by a margin as great as 40 points, and that was the 40-0 shutout in 1992. Pulaski County has also defeated Salem twice by 39 points, 46-7 and 45-6, but regardless of the margin of victory, no victory was ever more convincing in all areas of the game in this series than the total domination displayed in Pulaski County’s 38-0 win Friday for the region crown.
The Cougars got 15 first downs, Salem five. The Spartans finished with 86 total yards, 14 less than 100 for an entire game, while Pulaski County romped and stomped for 350 yards rushing. Run and stop the run. The Cougars certainly did those two things very well. 

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High School Football Recap:

By DAN CALLAHAN
SWT Sports Writer 
 
38-0! In one of its most dominating wins ever in a big game and against long time rival Salem, Pulaski County was totally superior in every phase on its way to a shocking, 38-0 victory over the Spartans Friday night in Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium / Joel Hicks Field.
The win ranks among the greatest in the all-time history of the Pulaski County football program. The Cougars are now a perfect undefeated 12-0 on the 2008 season — that’s only the second time in school history that has happened. They have won the River Ridge District championship, and now the Region Four championship.
They will now play in a state semi-final game (against Amherst) for the seventh time in school history, they now lead the series against their old rival (Salem) 18-16, and they did it with the third shutout of the season, and the triumph was every bit as dominating as the 38-0 score indicates it was.
Nubian Peak rushed for 221 yards, and Pulaski County ran on the frozen ground for 350 yards. Salem managed just 86 total yards of offense against what has become a Cougar defensive unit that just smashes and mangles opponents. There was another fumble recovery by Austin Cox and an eighth pass interception by Zane Quesenberry, a pick and return for six by Antwyne Calfee, and more quarterback sacks by an intimidating front four, and just all-around outstanding physical play by a defense and a team that appears to still be getting better even while the playoffs are underway this late in the season.
“I’m certainly proud of everybody and the effort that was given out on that football field tonight,’’ said head coach Jack Turner following the game in the Cougar locker room. It was surprising that not one word was said about how cold it was or the elements. The team just entered the locker room, and it was evident how proud the players were of their accomplishment, and how focused this team has become.
“I think our defensive coaching staff did a masterful job preparing the team for this game, and each week I feel a greater sense of pride about our players. This is a great group of young men and a special senior class. There will come a time when I’ll have a lot to say to all of them, but right now we must stay focused. We were ready and we did the job, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry.’’
Turner was of course talking about two-time defending state champion Amherst who was a lopsided winner over Jefferson-Forest in the Region 3 title game Friday.
“Friday will be one the toughest challenges this program has ever faced, but this is a special time, a special team, and a special season. It’s a great time in the history of our program, but we must stay focused. We’ve done a super job, but we must continue on. We must get ready. The challenge will get greater every week, but so will the reward. I’m proud of everybody,’’ said Turner.
One of the highlights for Salem was a game opening kickoff that resulted in a fumble, but Pulaski County was not able to take advantage — but the Cougars didn’t miss often this cold, windy evening.
On the second possession Pulaski County moved 58 yards in eight plays with fullback E.J. Dobbins sweeping left to the end zone from six yards out. Matt Songer’s good right foot made the score 7-0 with 5:51 left in the first quarter. Dobbins carried the mail four straight times during the touchdown march, and five times total on the possession for 37 yards.
Salem had to punt quickly again and this time Peak must have decided he wanted to work up a sweat to combat the cold temperature because he turned the right corner and outran the Spartan defense 67 yards to paydirt. Songer made it 14-0 with an even minute left in the opening stanza.
The two teams swapped possessions until Salem took over as its own 11. Quarterback Hunter Sturgill who was ineffective trying to pass in the poor weather conditions the whole game, threw into the right flat on second down from the 12, but his intended receiver Reggie Barnette appeared to be off timing with his quarterback and he suddenly fell to the ground. Antwyn Calfee, playing cornerback on that side of the field for the Cougars, stepped up and the pass hit him square in the chest and 20 yards later the score was 21-0 and the rout was on.
The longest drive came on Pulaski County’s final possession of the opening half. It took 16 plays for the Cougars to march 77 yards. There were no real long gainers, but a crucial play in the drive was a third down, 14-yard run by Jolly Martin to the Spartan 16 with less than a minute left before halftime. On fourth down with time running out Pulaski County rushed its field goal kicking unit on the field and Songer just cleared the crossbar from 28 yards out with his second three-pointer of the season as the horn sounded for a stunning 24-0 halftime lead for the Cougars.
Pulaski County was totally dominating the entire game, but at the half Salem had only 18 total yards of offense, had not crossed the 50 yard line, had just a single first down, and appeared helpless in the effort to block the Cougar defense. In sharp contrast, Peak had 125 yards rushing for the Cougars, Dobbins 50, and the team 216, and 12 first downs.
There were two more quarters to play, but in this frigid weather, this football game was over.
Pulaski County scored again in the third quarter with an 11-play, 58-yard march, and Dobbins bulled over from a yard out. Songer was perfect all night and now the tally was 31-0 with 3:40 on the clock in the third quarter.
Salem didn’t do much better in the second half, but it did finally cross the mid-field stripe with 46 seconds left in the third quarter and got to the Pulaski County 42-yard line for their best possession of the game.
The final score of the game came when Peak set sail for glory land again with 6:31 still on the clock in the fourth quarter. He made a nice cut underneath a blocker on a sweep right and outran the Spartan defense 66 yards to paydirt. Songer’s kick made the final score 38-0 as Pulaski County cleared the bench the rest of the game.
The Cougars had a total offense for the game of 350 yards, all rushing. Peak used 22 carries to get his 221 yards. Dobbins ran 12 times to get his 69 yards, fullback Seth Parris ran 14 times for 33 yards, Martin got 20 yards on three attempts, and a host of others got involved late. Quarterback Luke Watson only attempted two passes on the frozen turf. The Cougars got 17 first downs and did not have a turnover.
Salem got 53 yards rushing on 22 tries, and Sturgill was five of 16 passing for 33 yards, and 86 total yards of offense, their smallest production of the season. Zane Quesenberry and Antwyne Calfee both had interceptions for Pulaski County and Austin Cox had the fumble recovery on the opening kickoff for three more turnovers. The leading rusher for the Spartans was fullback Daniel Dyer and he had only 26 yards, Sturgill had 11, and Antonio Medley eight. Donte Harvey who had nine pass receptions in the first game between the two teams had only two for 15 yards this time, and Salem managed only five first downs for the game.
Officials are looking to see if the state semi-final game against Amherst will be played Friday or Saturday, but nothing had been finalized at press time, and that includes not only the date, but the time of day for the kickoff. Amherst is 11-1 on the season, and has lost but once in the last three seasons, putting their record at 39-1. 

Peak outgains Salem 221-86

By DAN CALLAHAN
SWT Sports Writer 
 
Pulaski County senior halfback Nubian Peak galloped for 221 yards on 22 carries for Pulaski County, putting him at almost 1,500 yards rushing for the season. His numbers alone are far greater than anything the entire Salem team was able to generate. Peak outgained Salem by 135 yards, 221-86!
“I don’t want to sound big headed, but I knew I was going to have a big game, and I felt all week that the team was going to play well, and we were going to have a great game. You never expect to get 200 or go over 200, and I’m thrilled with that, but I have to give a lot of the credit to the offensive line. Those guys are really getting better and our line has improved steadily all season. I love my guys up front.’’
As far as the Salem rivalry and beating the Spartans twice in his senior season, this was the way Peak wanted to go out.
“We didn’t like some of the things that were coming out of Salem during the week. We all know they have an excellent football program, but sometimes you wonder if there’s an attitude problem there. We beat them the first time two weeks ago, but we didn’t feel like they respected us for it. That bothered me. Like I said, Salem has a good team, and they almost always do, and I take nothing away from them, but I just didn’t feel like they respected us. If they want to respect Pulaski County or not, I wanted to earn it, and I think tonight we earned Salem’s respect. I think 38-0 and domination on the field says it all,’’ said Peak.
He continued, “I know the past few years Salem has been on a roll, but this is 2008. This program has worked hard. We worked hard to win this region championship. We respect Salem for the things they have done. We deserve that same respect. Pulaski County has a great football program too. We have great facilities. We have great fans. We have everything anybody else has, and I sure hope all of those people are happy tonight,’’ said Peak.
But things only get more difficult and now the Cougars must face two-time defending state champion Amherst next week. The Lancers already have Peak’s respect, but he says all the Cougars need to do is keep their hat size intact and get ready to play in the Division 4 state semi-final and do the very best they can.
“Just keep on playing baby. Our offensive line just needs to keep knocking ‘em off the ball, and that defense needs to keep playing great, and we’ll be okay. Next week will be very tough, we know that. Heck, none of us have ever played in a state semi-final game, but they tell me if you keep winning and take the next step the next opponent is always the best yet. I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I think this is great. We’re excited. This team is having fun, and we have a great opportunity, but the thing I’m most proud of is how we earned this opportunity. I think we’re all very proud to be 12-0,’’ said Peak.
Two-way senior tackle Josh Miller came in the locker room with a smile as wide as a Cadillac and carrying the region championship trophy. The team gathered in the floor for a very happy photo.
“Region champions, man that’s good. I like saying that. This is the way you want your senior year to be. I know how much it means to all the seniors because I know how I feel inside. I have confidence that this team can get it done, and that we will continue playing well. We wanted to make sure that Salem knew the first time wasn’t luck. I believe everybody knows that now. For a while, Salem has been the best in the River Ridge, but in 2008 they’re not. Pulaski County is the best in the district and the whole region. Next week will be a huge challenge, but this is such a together football team. All we have to do is just stay together and keep doing the same things, get focused and be ready. Pulaski County can play. It’s going to stake a special team to knock us out because I believe the Cougars are a special team,’’ said Miller.
Brandon Hazzard was his usual dominating self on the defensive front, and was in on two more quarterback sacks.
“I thought the game would be tougher, but we went out and really took it to them. A shutout man, and to be 12-0! It’s a dream season. We’ve just got to keep it going. I’m so proud of our team and how we played tonight. The Cougars were ready to play. If anybody had any questions after we won the first game with Salem, we wanted to eliminate any doubt as to who was the best team,’’ said Hazzard. I believe he and his teammates did exactly that.
And big senior (6-3, 360) Langston Lewis continues to bottle up the center of the line from his nose tackle position. Salem simply could not block the big guy.
“I didn’t expect 38-0, but that was the type game we wanted. I think we played at a level that we wanted to play. We practiced hard all week and got ourselves focused on the game. You never really know what to expect, but this team is capable of playing this good every time it takes the field, and I believe we expect to keep playing like this. We’ve won the district, now the region. I’m not sure anybody thought we could win both those, but man, it would be really something to win the state championship,’’ smiled Lewis.
Senior E.J. Dobbins continues to be more of a factor for the Cougars, not only at his strong side linebacker position on defense, but also at fullback. He scored two more touchdowns and finished with 69 yards on 12 carries. One very effective play was the fullback sweep which Pulaski County hadn’t made a big part of the game plan all season.
“It wasn’t a new play, or anything like that,’’ said Dobbins. “It was just ’29-Sweep.’ We practice it all the time. It’s always been in the package, but we just hadn’t run the play all that much, but the coaches thought it looked good against Salem, we went to it and it turned out to be a great play for us. That’s the way this team is. We have a lot of weapons and do a lot of different things. We’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays, and that’s the way it’ll have to be next week against Amherst. We know they will be good. I guess we’ll start looking at them Monday and we’ll need to be very prepared. This season is just so exciting. We’ve got to get ready and keep it going,’’ said Dobbins.
Antwyne Calfee had the game’s easiest touchdown. Salem quarterback Hunter Sturgill was trying to pass to wideout Reggie Barnette. It was an out route in the right flat, but it looked like the timing of the play was out of whack, Barnette went down, Calfee quickly stepped up to pick off Sturgill’s aerial and zipped 20 yards to paydirt in the second quarter.
“It was some kind of curl route,’’ said Calfee. “It looked like the timing of the play was messed up, and the receiver suddenly went down when he bumped into somebody. I moved toward the receiver and suddenly here came the football and he was down. The ball was chest high. I caught it and took it to the end zone. I had a big one (catch for touchdown) against Salem the first time we played, but we messed up and it didn’t count, so I guess this makes up for it. I was so happy I couldn’t quit laughing,’’ said Calfee.
So the worm has turned for the present in the Pulaski County-Salem rivalry. All series do that from time to time. The Spartans had defeated the Cougars seven straight times entering the 2008 season, but that streak has been stopped and Pulaski County ended that streak convincingly. It will turn again, and again over the years, but likely, it will always be very competitive, and very interesting. But right now, the torch belongs to Pulaski County, and it will burn brightly next to that big cornfield, and just to sweeten the pot, the Cougars have also carted off the River Ridge and Region Four trophies with two wins and how sweet it is.
But as head coach Jack Turner said in the locker room following the big victory; “Great preparation by our defensive staff, and the players on this team was a huge part of this victory tonight, and of course, it’s always nice to beat our friends from Salem, and to do it twice in the same year just doubles the pleasure, but we must move on quickly and get ready for the biggest challenge any of us have ever faced next week when we play Amherst.’’
Turner’s assessment is no doubt on target. The Cougars will now face one of the bullies in the state when Amherst comes calling next Friday, but for now, it’s time to have a feeling of great pride for what this team has done.
And then there were only four, and Pulaski County is one of them!

Cougars are without a doubt, Region Four’s finest

Locker Room for Sunday, November 23, 2008 

By Dan Callahan
SWT Sports Writer 

Much of the conversation following Friday’s humbling, 38-0 victory by Pulaski County over Salem centered around was this the worse defeat the Cougars had ever dealt the Spartans?
By numbers alone, no, it wasn’t, however, I seriously doubt if any loss ever hurt Salem more because the numbers in this game do not just begin and end with the final score of the game. Consider these things, Salem did not cross the 50-yard line until less than a minute was left in the third quarter. The Spartans deepest penetration in the entire game was only to the Pulaski County 42. In short, Salem never once was able to move into scoring territory so dominating was the Cougar defense.
It has been said the key in the playoffs and during this time of the year, particularly when you often have to deal with the elements like the teams did Friday, that in order to win you must first run the football and second, stop the run.
Friday at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium / Joel Hicks Field Pulaski County ran, ran, and ran with the pigskin, and the Spartans could not do either, they could not run the football and they couldn’t stop the Cougars from running with it. Sometimes that adds up to scores like 38-0. Salem ran for just 53 yards and had only 86 total yards of offense. Obviously, the Spartans couldn’t pass very well either.
During the week of preparation before the game the word out of the Salem camp was that the Spartans had to be more physical than they were the first time the two teams met with the River Ridge District championship on the line. Pulaski County won that one, 34-24, with an exciting second half rally.
No rally was necessary this time, and the Cougars took the prize a second time far more convincingly than the first, and the prize this time was the Region Four, Division 4 Region Championship and a berth in the state semi-final game against Amherst County at Dobson, likely Friday. It’s been a while since the Pulaski County football program has added any trophies to the display case, but now in 2008 there’s two brand new ones, and one to go, the state championship.
I think the determining factor in game two of this rivalry was very simple. Salem wanted to be more physical. It didn’t look like the Spartans were able to pull that off, but Pulaski County did. The Cougars were certainly the more physical of the two football teams. This game was won at the line scrimmage. Pulaski County’s improving offensive line blocked Salem. When you rush for 350 yards, somebody has to block somebody, at least some of the time. Then on the other side of the coin, the Cougar defensive front just shut down the Spartan offense. Salem couldn’t run, and when they tried to pass, there was pressure. It was physical, it was decided at the line of scrimmage, and the Cougars that play down in the pits got the job done.
Center Tim Wojcik, guards Ralph Miller and Cam Bailey, and tackles Josh Miller and Josh Lambert blocked the Spartans, and the defensive front of Brandon Hazzard, Josh Miller, Jared Cole, and Langston Lewis dominated the Salem offensive line. That’s why one offense moves up and down the field at will, and the other crosses the 50 just once.
I mentioned last week that it appeared even at this late stage of the season that the Cougars still might be getting better, and against Salem, it looked again like that might be the case. The major reason for that is the offensive line.
From the mid-way point of the third quarter in the first game between the two teams until the end of Friday’s night frigid affair, Pulaski County out-scored the Spartans 58-0. As far as the playoffs are concerned toss in last week’s opening round 42-0 flogging of Blacksburg and the Cougars have outscored their two playoff opponents 80-0, and that happens when you get people blocked.
As far as the history of the rivalry between Pulaski County and Salem is concerned the Cougars are now back to an 18-16 lead in the series. As far as the most convincing scores in the series for Pulaski County are concerned, the Cougars defeated Salem 46-7 in 1979, 27-0 in 1980, 40-0 in 1982, 45-6 in 1993 (the most lopsided defeat in Willis White’s coaching career), 28-7 in 2001, and 40-13, again in the 2001 playoffs.
With two wins in the 2001 and now 2008 seasons for Pulaski County, this now means that the two programs have each beaten the other two times in the same season twice. Salem did it in 2005 and 2007.
So the Cougars have beaten the Spartans by a margin as great as 40 points, and that was the 40-0 shutout in 1992. Pulaski County has also defeated Salem twice by 39 points, 46-7 and 45-6, but regardless of the margin of victory, no victory was ever more convincing in all areas of the game in this series than the total domination displayed in Pulaski County’s 38-0 win Friday for the region crown.
The Cougars got 15 first downs, Salem five. The Spartans finished with 86 total yards, 14 less than 100 for an entire game, while Pulaski County romped and stomped for 350 yards rushing. Run and stop the run. The Cougars certainly did those two things very well. 

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