Tonight’s game between Ashland and Greenup County was supposed to be a battle of two of the top young running backs in the area.
Instead it is now a showcase for the unbelievable bad luck for the Musketeers.
According to Greenup County coach Chris Mullins, sophomore running back Ryan Byrd will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
The injury happened last week on the first play of the game against Johnson Central.
Byrd was having a fantastic season, having rushed for more than 1,000 yards already.
“It’s very disappointing and I just hate it for him,” Mullins said. “He depended a lot on his run because he has incredible vision and is great at breaking tackles. We’re going to have to find someone to make those big plays. Ryan had taken the bull by the horns and had been doing it all year.”
With Byrd out, only half of the marquee sophomore running back matchup will be on display with Ashland’s Quinton Baker.
Along with Byrd, Baker is the only other player in the area who has rushed for 1,000 yards this season.
The key to stopping Baker, according to Mullins, is ... well he’s still working out a game plan for that.
“He’s going to be a big part of the game plan,” Mullins said. “It’s one of those things, though, where when he’s part of a game plan, he’s still performing and still putting numbers up. If he gets any space at all, you will get embarrassed.”
With Byrd out, Greenup County will try to match Baker with running backs Matt Lawson and Jeffery Williams, who is returning from injury.
Picking up a win at Putnam Stadium would be huge for the Musketeers. If they pull off the upset tonight and defeat Boyd County next week, they could finish tied for second in the district.
“We’ve really preached this all week,” Mullins said. “We may have home playoff game. As far as seeding goes, there could be a two- or three-way tie. It’s a big selling point to go down there and win this game and end up getting a chance at a home playoff.
“A win could be huge for our program.”
Game of the Week
‰Fairview at Raceland. The sky is blue. Grass is green. I am a great dancer. All these things are just as obvious as what is the top game this week.
It’s probably the game of the year.
And, as Fairview coach Nathan McPeek told me last week, the winner will not only be decided tonight, but all throughout practice this past week.
“Obviously it’s a big one. Everybody talks about it,” McPeek said. “This game is not about emotion but about who prepares the best. This game will be won Monday through Thursday.”
‰Lawrence County has struggled against Belfry. The Bulldogs could use a win after last week’s heartbreaking loss to Pike County Central.
Belfry, which is undefeated this season at 7-0, has had Lawrence County’s number.
The Pirates have won the last nine meetings between the two teams.
‰Johnson Central is off to it’s best start since 2008. The Golden Eagles started the season 9-0 that year before losing the final game of the season.
The way things have gone, Johnson Central is looking to match its 2006 outcome, which was an undefeated regular season.
Tonight, Johnson Central hosts district rival Rowan County. The Vikings own a victory in the series — way back in 2001.
‰East Carter could all but lock down its first playoff appearance since 2008. The Raiders host Fleming County, with both teams having one win in district play.
With a win, either team is on the inside track to claim the final playoff spot within the district.
West Carter also has a chance to make the playoffs, but needs to pull out a home win over undefeated Mason County.
Into the Airwaves
Tonight’s radio coverage:
Greenup County at Ashland (WBVB 97.1-FM, wlgcradio.com); Russell at Lewis County (WLGC 105.7-FM, WGOH 100.9-FM); Fairview at Raceland (wlgcradio.com); Rowan County at Johnson Central (WMOR 106.1-FM, WSIP 98.9-FM); Lawrence County at Belfry (WZAQ 92.3-FM); Ironton at Bishop Hartley (WIRO 1230 AM); Mason County at West Carter (WUGO 99.7-FM).
To get breaking news, updates and scores from all area sports, follow me on Twitter (@KHobstetter). You can also follow sports editor Aaron Snyder (@DindependentQB) but watch for him to not stop tweeting about that little girl singing a song about Chinese food.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.