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Cougars set to open against Cave Spring




It’s finally here. Pulaski County will load the bus Monday and travel to Roanoke to take on one their longtime opponents, the Cave Spring Knights.

Cougar Football Head Coach Mark Dixon


The Cougars have played against Cave Spring 44 times, with the Cougars holding a 30-14 advantage in the series. That includes victories in the past five matchups. Last year the Cougars defeated the Knights 49-12.


It’s a new era in the Cougar Nation. With the departure of former Head Coach Stephen James and the hiring of new Head Coach Mark Dixon, Cougar fans can expect to see some change right away.


While Pulaski County may still pass the ball from time to time, there will be a focus on establishing the run game. Dixon will serve as his own offensive coordinator.


“Our line will decide how well we do offensively,” Dixon said. “We think we’ve moved some people into spots that will allow them to be more productive for the team. The team is what matters. You cannot win as an individual in football. It must be a team effort. If we establish ourselves on the line of scrimmage, we will be successful.”


Defensively fans may not notice as much of a change for Pulaski County. Coach Rob Colley will remain the defensive coordinator, where he has more than proven his worth over the past few seasons.


“We feel like we have a solid defensive unit,” Dixon said. “Coach Colley being so familiar with the returning players has been a big asset. Having almost our entire coaching staff return was huge for us. It has provided that consistency we needed, now more than maybe ever before considering everything our kids have been through with COVID. We’re going to put our playmakers in positions to make plays. It’s really just that simple.”


The Knights are under the direction of Head Coach Tim Fulton, who is in his 16th season. Cave Spring finished the 2019 season with a disappointing 1-9 record. Their 2018 record wasn’t much better, ending at 2-9 and with a lopsided loss in the opening round of the playoffs to Northside. The last truly solid season the Knights enjoyed was in 2011. They ended that season with a record of 9-4. They defeated Martinsville and then Richlands before falling to Brookville in the state semifinals.


While most of the starting lineup for Pulaski County is still what Coach Dixon refers to as “fluid” due to the coaches still evaluating players, several players will be locked in.


Senior Drew Dalton will get the start at quarterback. Senior Broc Simpson will be the kicker and punter. Seniors Ethan Gallimore, Layne Suthers, Chayton Rollins, Chase Dotson, Corvin Carter, Grayson Deu, Will Bishop, Clay Phillips, Levi Young, Zeke Surber, Cooper Dunnigan and Jacob Turman will be joined by juniors John Lyman, DeMarcus Hayden, Keyontae Kennedy, Caleb Yelton, Marcus Wright and Jacob Johnson somewhere in that lineup.


Expect to hear names like Quemaar Porter, Trevor Burton, Cam Cooper, Diego Turner and a host of other sophomores as they fight to earn and maintain a spot on the field. Some of them will make immediate impacts.


They will be joined by others, but at this point the actual starting lineups won’t matter as the Cougars employ a variety of packages and schemes to make the most of the Pulaski County strengths. Many questions will be answered in the season opener Monday.


Another change that Cougar fans will see this year comes due to the unfortunate passing of longtime sports writer Dan Callahan, who passed in May 2020. For 50 years Dan provided coverage of Pulaski County sports, but his special love was Cougar football.


From the locker room to the sidelines and up to the press box, Dan Callahan provided readers and listeners with a look into the Cougar football program that few high school programs in the nation enjoy.


Pulaski County remembers and honors those who serve. The stadium our teams play in is named for Kenneth J. Dobson, one of the men responsible for bringing about the unification of our two former county high schools into what is now Pulaski County High School. The field is named after legendary former Head Coach Joel Hicks, who helped make Pulaski County football a name known across the Commonwealth and nation.


Now, the same press box that Dan Callahan called games from for years will bear his name as a testament to the life he spent promoting, protecting and celebrating Pulaski County sports. It is a fitting tribute.


Fans will still be able to listen in to the game as usual on 107.1 FM, WPSK, as Rick Watson returns to the airwaves to provide the play-by-play and Shay Dunnigan offers color commentary. The pregame show will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by kickoff at 7 p.m. A livestream of the game will also be available from the Cave Spring High School Football Booster Club on YouTube. The exact link for that livestream has not been released at this time.



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