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Cougars open football season

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

The Pulaski County Cougar football team welcomed 69 players to the 2019 season with the official start of practice Thursday morning.

 

Heavy fog and a solid offseason of hard work made the morning workout more than bearable for the players as they went through the various drills before getting into the more serious portions of practice.

 

Pulaski County will be looking to fill spots vacated in the lineup due to graduation, as always, but return a very solid core group of skill players and linemen that should provide Cougar Head Coach Stephen James a solid starting point.

 

Quarterback A.J. McCloud returns as a rising junior who saw plenty of action last season. McCloud completed 13 of 23 passes last season for 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He’ll be pushed by at least two players, junior Drew Dalton and senior Chris Shay.

 

The receiving core lost a few players but return senior Logan Burchett along with a host of new faces.

 

One thing the Cougars won’t lack this season will be running backs. Gage Mannon will be a senior and finished 2018 with 135 rushes for 869 yards. He also led the team in scoring last season with 17 touchdowns. Jakari Finley is a junior this season after running 175 times for 873 yards and scoring seven times last season. Rising senior Luke Russell will likely be in the mix. He’ll be joined by juniors Keyonte Kennedy, Chayton Rollins and possibly several other up and coming sophomore and freshman candidates.

 

The line will be anchored by a group of young players that were put in the spotlight last season as sophomores. Expect Clay Phillips, Zeke Surber, Cooper Dunnigan, Levi Young and many others to be solid. Rising senior Logan Fox will be one of a handful of seniors on the line, along with a few other younger faces moving up from last season’s junior varsity squad.

 

The Cougar defense has the potential to be very, very good in 2019. They’ll be led by names like Mannon, Austin Gallimore, Russell, Ethan Gallimore and others. The defensive front should be a wall, the linebackers will be extremely dependable and the secondary, a sore point in recent seasons, should be improved.

 

The Cougars will continue practice through the next two weeks and then have photo day Friday, Aug. 16. The first scrimmage action of the season comes Saturday, Aug. 17, when Magna Vista and Bluefield, West Virginia, visit Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium for the Touchdown Classic. It will be a controlled scrimmage with the coaches on the field, giving players a chance for their first live action.

 

Friday, Aug. 23, will be a benefit game against the Radford Bobcats at the Cougar Den. The season will officially open Friday, Aug. 30, against the Northside Vikings.

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