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Battle between the undefeated: Casey County hosts Bell County in district battle

Three Class 3A football teams remain undefeated entering the seventh week of the season.

Two will remain after Friday night.

Boyle County, Bell County and Casey County are the final three teams without a loss in Class 3A. Boyle has a bye week. Bell County visits Casey County in an 8th District matchup.

Steve Stonebraker has continued a winning trend in Casey County this season: The Rebels were 20-4 in his first two seasons as head coach, and this year’s 5-0 mark is the third-straight year with such a record.

Both Stonebraker and Bell County head coach Dudley Hilton returned as head coach at their respective schools in 2016, and since 2016, Casey County is 2-0 against the Bobcats.

But those back-to-back victories don’t have anything to do with this year, Stonebraker said.

“This team has to create their own story,” he said. “The successes or failures of past teams have nothing to do with current games.  The scoreboard will start at 0-0 and you have to earn whatever you get.”

In 2016, Stonebraker’s team made a statement with a 53-14 victory over the visiting Bell County team. In 2017, the Rebels made the trip to Log Mountain and won 49-28 behind a three-touchdown performance from running back Preston Tucker.

Tucker has been dominant this year as a senior, but was absent in Casey’s district-opening win last week against Jackson County.

“Preston has been nursing a hip pointer,” Stonebraker said.  “We will see how he responds in practice this week.  We had a couple guys (Ethan Ammons, Codey Publow) step in nicely last week and come up with some big runs for us.”

A victory on Friday night would solidify the third-straight winning season for Casey County, and Stonebraker said the community has showed its support.

“Our fans and our community support have been great,” he said. “We are one win away from having our third straight winning season.  That’s only happened on two other occasions in the history of boys team sports at Casey County High School (Boys Basketball 72-74 and 92-94) so it is a big deal to people here that we are having success.

“Before these current seniors came into the program there was only three winning season in football since the inception of the program in 1973.  I think most everyone has enjoyed the ride and it’s been pretty unprecedented by our standards.”

The Rebels will bring experience from past years with them — starting quarterback Austin Campbell led the team to a victory last year after throwing two interceptions in the game.

Campbell, Tucker and fellow upperclassmen Ethan Ammons, Logan Combs, Gabe Singleton and Ethan Parton, as well as kicker Nick Wilkerson, were all acknowledged after last year’s victory — the first ever for Casey County at Bell County.

That core remains and will be the leaders in an important matchup between undefeated Class 3A teams.

“All we have to do is get better every day and continue to work as hard as we can,” Stonebraker said.  “Not everyone gets to play in a big game on the back half of their schedule where both teams are undefeated.  If you don’t have fun preparing for something like that then you don’t have a pulse.

“The team that wins this game will be the team that blocks, tackles, and takes care of the football the best. That’s what Kentucky high school football comes down to each and every week.”