Raceland is finding all kinds of avenues to the end zone.
After piling up at least 54 points each of the past three weeks, the state’s sixth-ranked Class A team next faces a banged-up team that has struggled to stop opponents.
Lawrence County visits Ram Stadium tonight for a 7:30 kickoff.
“We are pleased with where we are, but obviously there is a lot of room for improvement,” said Raceland coach T. J. Maynard, whose team is off to a 4-1 start. “This group has been fun to coach. You can see signs of us getting better. You see them working hard in practice to improve things.”
Last week, the Rams crushed Sciotoville Community 60-8 with a complete performance to make amends for a loss from last year.
Raceland scored on a reverse pass, a safety and two punt returns by different players, as well as a variety of long and short runs and quarterback passes.
Meanwhile, the Rams’ defense put the wraps on talented Sciotoville Community quarterback Justin Crager, who had rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his team’s first three games.
“We got back to being a good little defense,” Maynard said. “We were focused because of what Crager did to us last year. I don’t think we had been as physical as we could be, but we were last Friday.”
Lawrence County coach Joey Cecil said that except for Ashland, Raceland is the best all-around team the Bulldogs have come up against.
“They are well balanced, have good size and a lot of weapons,” Cecil said.
Running back Daylin Beach has 13 touchdowns, including 11 on the ground, while quarterback Adam Elkins is 39-of-66 for 654 yards and 10 TDs.
Maynard points to the Rams’ line play as a major factor.
“We are more physically mature up front,” he said. “That’s allowed us to run more efficiently than last year and also to stop the run.”
Left tackle and Devin Thomas and center Doug Abrams are three-year starters. Left guard Austin Manis and right guard Nevan Johnson also returned up front.
The newcomer in the unit, junior Alec Risner, has played well at right tackle and begun to fulfill the promise seen by Raceland’s coaching staff.
“Watching Alec play through middle school and up to this year, we knew he had a lot of ability,” Maynard said.
Logan Caldwell and Brandon Boyles rotate in on the offensive line.
“All those guys have played a lot of football, been in a lot of battles,” Maynard said.
Defensively, Connor Messer has four interceptions, while Risner leads the Rams in tackles with 38 from his end position.
“It tells you the type of player he is,” Maynard said. “Alec will make plays on the other side of the feld. He puts himself in position by being in shape and giving great effort.”
Young Lawrence County (2-3) is coming off a 46-23 home loss to Letcher County Central after leading 23-20 at halftime.
The Bulldogs played the second half without injured running backs Morgan O’Brian and Blake Prince. Cecil said the visitors’ size wore on smaller Lawrence County down the stretch.
The finish didn’t have the drama of the past two weeks, when the Bulldogs edged Prestonsburg 42-41 and dropped a wild contest 50-49 to Perry County Central.
Obviously, moving the ball has not been a problem for Lawrence County with junior quarterback A. J. Cyrus at the helm of a ground-oriented attack. Prince returns to the backfield tonight after playing only the first half last week, while O’Brian remains out with a knee injury.
“We know we are up against a tough opponent,” Cecil said, “but I like what we are doing, how we have been moving the ball offensively. Hopefully, we can continue to build.”
Lawrence County’s second-year head coach is also hoping for cooler weather tonight to be able to use more players both ways.
The Bulldogs have won the last four games in the series, which resumed last season after a 10-year break.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.
Raceland is finding all kinds of avenues to the end zone.
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