By Robert Clark
Berea Community is set to hit the road today to take the defending state champion Hazard in the opening round of the Class A Playoffs.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Pirates finished the regular-season (2-8, 0-3 district) with a heart-breaking, last-minute loss to Paintsville last week.
Despite committing six turnovers, the Pirates forced five turnovers and had the lead with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Two of those turnovers resulted in 12 points and the Pirates ended up suffering a 20-14 loss.
“If we can eliminate turnovers and get good field position we can do well,” Berea coach Adam Coleman said. “That’s a winning formula for any team.”
Hazard (6-3, 3-0 district) has only allowed 19 points a game this season and has averaged nearly 31 points.
“Speed and experience are strengths and they show very little weaknesses,” Coleman said.
The Pirates were without offensive and defensive play-maker Hunter Wilson the past two weeks and it is still uncertain if he will available against Hazard.
Despite his absence, the defense has made strong strides in filling the void. Still, the Pirates defense will face a challenge trying to slow down a passing attack that has racked up more than 2,000 yards this season.
Evan Whitaker has completed 115-of-195 attempts for 1,957 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Bulldogs also have five receivers with at least 100 yards receiving this season, led by Jordan Olinger (47 catches, six touchdowns and 726 yards).
Hazard heads into the playoffs on a five-game winning streak. The Pirates have lost four-straight games.
“Despite the weather, we have had a good week of practice, with good positive energy,” Coleman said. “I think they are anxious to see what we can do with these guys.”
If the Pirates were to win they will play the winner of the Pineville and Campbellsville next week.