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Taking a look at the final numbers

Each season I like to take a moment to sit back and look at the final numbers. Math does not lie. Math does not show bias and math does not exaggerate. One plus one is always two, no matter how many flags the officials may throw or how bad someone disagrees with the coach about which play to call.

 

Tim Hurst and Scott Shaffer do a great job keeping up with the numbers each season. They love this program and do it for that reason alone. I’m sure I speak for a lot of people, including the coaches, when I say we all appreciate that hard work.

 

Pulaski County had a solid season defensively. There is no question of that. They held their opponents to 104 first downs during the course of 12 games. The Cougar defense held their opponents to 666 yards on 335 carries, just 1.98 yards per carry. That is an incredible effort.

 

Cougar opponents completed 96 of 224 pass attempts for 1,043 yards. That equals 10.86 yards per catch. Cougar defenders intercepted nine passes this season.

 

The Cougars gave up 1,709 total yards of offense in 2019. During that time they recovered 17 opponent fumbles and blocked three punt attempts. Ethan Gallimore blocked one of those punts and recovered five of the fumbles. He’ll be back next season. So will Chayton Rollins, Zeke Surber, Chase Dotson, AJ McCloud and John Lyman. Each of them had either an interception or a fumble recovery.

 

Luke Russell recovered three fumbles, intercepted a pass and blocked a punt for the Cougars while harassing the opposing quarterbacks. Corvin Carter had four interceptions and Shay had two.

 

Another bright spot for the Cougars was the kicking game. Broc Simpson will be back next season as well. This year he was the leading scorer for Pulaski County with 68 points thanks to hitting 32 of 33 point-after attempts and 12 of 16 field goal attempts. Simpson also was a weapon with his kickoff and punting ability, which helped keep the opposition pinned back much of the time.

 

There is no question the Cougar offense struggled at times this season. The Cougars earned 142 first downs and ran the ball 500 times for 2,094 yards. That equals 4.18 yards per carry, which isn’t a bad thing.

 

The issue was consistency, not effort. Between lost players and injuries, 16 different players ran the ball for Pulaski County this season. The top performer was Keyonte Kennedy, who ended with 182 carries for 724 yards, or 3.9 yards per carry.

 

Chris Shay was called into duty as a quarterback, running back and various other spots this season. He ran 94 times for 425 yards, a 4.5 yards per carry average. Gage Mannon ran hard when he ran, but an injury cut his offensive snaps dramatically. He finished with 82 runs for 417 yards, 5.1 yards per carry. Only two other Cougars finished with more than 150 yards rushing. McCloud had 72 carries for 199 yards (2.8 per carry) and Jakari Finley had 30 carries for 167 yards before moving early in the season.

 

The Cougar passing game had a tough season. Nine Cougars caught passes this year. McCloud finished with 64 completions out of 129 attempts (49.5%) for 616 yards. His injured shoulder hampered him throughout the year, translating into 15 interceptions. He was able to complete four touchdown passes.

 

Chris Shay started the season at quarterback against Northside due to the injury to McCloud. He was 1 for 4 passing for 13 yards with one interception. Drew Dalton completed 1 of 3 pass attempts for 13 yards with one interception.

 

Logan Burchett finished out 2019 with the most receiving yards. He had nine catches for 124 yards, a 10.3 yard per catch average. John Lyman had 13 catches for 100 yards. Chase Dotson caught 12 passes for 119 yards. Layne Suthers caught 11 for 99 yards. Shay caught 10 for 40 yards and Landon McDaniel, who’s season was cut short after an ankle injury on the first play of the William Byrd game, caught four passes for 57 yards.

 

As for scoring, there wasn’t nearly as much this year for the Cougars. Pulaski County scored 34 touchdowns this season and earned one safety. Gage Mannon, despite missing offensive action in several games, led the way with nine touchdowns. Kennedy, Shay and McCloud added five each. Ethan Gallimore, Finley and Burchett scored twice each. Dotson, Lyman, Drew Dalton and Russell each added one touchdown.

 

Pulaski County outscored their opponents in every quarter this season. The won the first quarter 68-34, the second 77-46, the third 56-34 and the fourth quarter 73-32. The Cougar scored 274 points while allowing 146. That’s an average game score of 22.84 for Pulaski County and 12.2 points for the opposition.

 

The effort was there, but consistency hurt at critical times. Pulaski County came up short in the Hidden Valley game due to a large number of injuries to starting players. The final game of the season against Salem was a heartbreaking 6-12 loss, but the Cougars were only six yards away from breaking the Spartans win streak in the series. The EC Glass game found the Cougars trailing 14-10 with 1:09 remaining. Then the bottom fell out and the season ended.

 

Pulaski County was close to being a very, very special team overall this season. A 9-3 record is nothing to be angry about, but many of the players feel exactly that way.

 

The Cougars will be back. Enough starters return and enough solid JV players will move up to make another competitive squad in 2020. How well they do will depend in part on how things go in the weight room this winter and spring. The Cougars will also need to find an answer to the offensive uncertainty from this season. I fully expect they’ll find some answers.

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