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Cougars head into playoffs for 27th time

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

The year was 1979, and the head coach was the now legendary Joel Hicks. It was the season dubbed the “Miracle on Slaughterhouse Road” after the Cougars finished the regular season with their first-ever winning record, 8-2, and made the playoffs for the first time in school history.

 

The Cougars lost two games during the course of that regular season, a 7-8 loss at home to the Cave Spring Knights and a 9-21 loss to the Patrick Henry Patriots in the final game of the regular season.

 

That first playoff game was a trip to face the G.W. Danville Eagles, the same team that Pulaski County will face this week in the opening round of the VHSL Region 4D playoffs.

 

The Cougars won that matchup by a final score of 7-0. Danville was the top ranked team in the state at that point as ranked by the coaches and second in the VHSL rankings. A reported crowd of over 10,000 fans came out for the game between two very good teams.

 

Pulaski County was a very big underdog. It didn’t matter. Defensive back Curtis Trail intercepted an Eagle pass attempt in the opening quarter and raced 73 yards for the winning and only score of the night. The defensive units of both teams played sensational games.

 

The playoffs are not a new place for the Cougar football team. This will mark the 27th season in the 44 years of the schools’ existence that the Cougars have been in the playoffs.

 

Pulaski County has earned a district championship 16 times, a region title seven times and own the 1992 Group 6A State Championship thanks to a 35-20 win over Thomas Dale in Richmond. The Cougars have won 15 first round playoff matchups and lost 11. They have won seven second round matchups and lost eight. They have won three state semifinal games and lost four. Pulaski County has played in three state title games, winning the one in 1992.

 

As for the opponent Pulaski County will play Friday, they are not strangers. The initial playoff meeting between the two teams in 1979 went to the Cougars. In 1982 the Eagles earned a second round victory over Pulaski County 37-7. The Cougars earned a 18-7 win in 1983. The 1992 team defeated the Eagles 25-6.

 

The overall series between the Cougars and the Eagles is tied at 7-7, with the Cougars winning the last matchup in 2000 by a final score of 42-13.

 

The playoffs have not been kind to Pulaski County since 2008. The 2011 squad finished the regular season with a disappointing 1-9 record but somehow still made the playoffs. They lost in the first round to Salem, 6-27.

 

The last playoff win for the Cougars came in the 2012 season. Magna Vista came to Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium only to have the Cougars win 32-0 to end the Warriors season. The Cougars fell the following week to Salem 14-17.

 

In 2013 the Cougars suffered a first round loss to Courtland, 0-15. The 2014 season ended in the first round at Liberty-Bealton, 7-48. Amherst County ended the Pulaski County season in the first round in 2015 by a final score of 22-29. The 2016 season also ended at Amherst County in the first round, 28-49.

 

While making the playoffs is a good accomplishment, Cougar Head Coach Stephen James has made it clear to his team that just making it isn’t enough. Making the playoffs is just the initial goal. Pulaski County needs to win a few games and make some noise in the second and third rounds if they want to be considered a serious contender again.

 

Make no mistake, the Cougar coaching staff is working hard to prepare for this matchup at Danville. From this point forward each team will either win and play the next week or lose and pack up the gear until next year.

 

Pulaski County is proud of the Cougar football team, make no mistake about that, but it’s time to raise the expectations. The Cougar JV team finished their season last week with a solid 8-1 record. The Cougar middle school team also did well, finishing the season at 7-1. Several Pulaski County recreation league teams were scheduled to play Monday night for a chance to play in the NRVFL-Eddie Sutphin Super Bowl Saturday. Last year two Pulaski County teams won the big trophies.

 

It’s time to put Pulaski County football back on the map. It’s time to bring back the PRIDE!

 

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