By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
PULASKI COUNTY — The Whitley County Colonels’ season came to an end Friday, falling to Pulaski County, 28-13 on the road.
Jim Black’s squad led 6-0 early on, but trailed 14-6 at halftime as the Colonels were unable to get any closer as Pulaski County pulled away late for the win.
After the game, Black said he hated to see the season end, but he was happy with the effort of his team overall this season.
“It was a good effort by our kids and we played hard the whole game,” Black said. “We made some mistakes and you can’t do that in the big games against good teams.
“When you’re a run team like we are, it’s hard to make a second-and-20 or a third-and-20, so we put ourselves in a hole a few times,” he added. “You really have to avoid those long yardage situations when you’re playing against a good team like Pulaski County.”
After trailing by just eight points at the break, the gap widened for the Colonels thanks to some turnovers and penalties in the second half. The Maroons used a balanced attack to get past Whitley County as they rushed the ball 27 times for 254 yards, while completing 14-of-18 pass attempts for 144 yards through the air.
While turnovers may have been one key point, the story of the game may have been the fact the Colonels were without several key starters due to injury. While Austin Ysidro was able to start, he was unable to throw the football thanks to a nagging shoulder injury, limiting what the Colonels could do offensively with him on the field.
“Austin was pretty much like a one-armed bandit out there on the field, but he showed a lot of heart with what he was able to do for us,” Black said. “I think they were able to key in on our running game once they figure out we weren’t going to be able to throw the football at all while Austin was in the game.
“He really battled back for us and came out and gave us his all on defense, but without his right arm basically, he was limited in what he could do,” he added.
Ysidro did lead the Colonels on the ground, rushing for 96 yards on 15 carries. Boston Bryant carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards, while freshman Luke Woods tallied 68 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
The loss sends the Colonels to 7-5 on the season as Black says goodbye to a talented senior class that he admitted he was going to miss quite a bit.
“I love all these guys and I’m going to miss them a lot,” Black said. “They’ve been a great group of kids on the field and they’ve really been a whole lot of fun to coach over the past four seasons.
“The good thing is we have a great group of young kids coming back next season and they were able to get some experience late in the season with some of the injuries we suffered,” he added. “It will be a while until I think about next season, but when I do it will be a little easier knowing the kids we have coming back.”
As for the 7-5 record, Black said he would take it because he has to at this point, but as any coach would do, he’ll want to improve on it next season.
“I’ll take the 7-5 record, but I want the other five as well,” he said. “As a coach you really think you should have had the other five and looking at our schedule, with several close losses, we could have very easily won two or three of those games.
“We’ll just have to come out next season and strive to be better just like every other team will,” he added. “You always strive to be better because that’s what you’re supposed to do as a coach.”
Offensively for Whitley County, the Colonels were able to rack up 292 yards on the ground on 49 carries, while completing just two-of-five pass attempts with a pair of interceptions and five turnovers in all.
When all was said and done, Black said he would be the first one to question himself as far as what he could have done to get the win, admitting that he felt like this was a winnable game as the week wound down.
“I’ll be the first one beating myself over the head because I really felt like this was a very winnable game for us,” Black said. “We did some things that were uncharacteristic of ourselves and we had some injuries that limited us.
“In the end, you just go back and try to fix the things you can fix and try to be a better football team the next time you take the field,” he added.