Middlesboro-Bell won’t play against each other in football in 2019

Published 12:28 pm Monday, July 29, 2019

The yearly anticipated match-up between in-county rivals Middlesboro and Bell County will not be taking place in the 2019-2020 season. No formal announcement has been made as to why the game will not be played.

“I don’t have a whole lot to say about the Middlesboro-Bell County game being canceled,” said Middlesboro head coach Larry French. “With this being my first year down here, I’ve never had the chance to participate in the rivalry game. I’ve been in coaching for a long time and know that many people value these in-county games a lot, but we are just focused on getting better right now.

“We are going to have a lot of younger players that are freshmen and sophomores starting for us this season. So, our main focus is being ready for every opponent we play this season. I’ve been coaching against Dudley (Hilton) for a long time now. He’s a wonderful person and we are friends off the field. I’m sure that he is focused on making his team better every day, just like we are.”

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According to maxpreps.com, Bell County and Middlesboro are knotted up at 71-71 head-to-head across all varsity sports, both male and female.

Bell County head coach Dudley Hilton is no stranger to the Middlesboro-Bell County rivalry, having coached his fair share of teams throughout the series.

“It’s one of those games that everyone circles on their schedules,” said Hilton. “It’s one of those games that the whole county is excited about. It helps make a lot of money for both schools also. These big rivalry games do a lot for the community by keeping everyone interested.

“I’m not sure why the game isn’t being played this year, but we have 10 teams on our schedule that we have to be ready for, starting with Collins on Aug. 24. I know that coach French is working hard with his team and making sure they’re ready for the upcoming season. Even though we aren’t going against each other this season, I’ve been coaching against Larry (French) for a long time. He does a great job, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he will do a great job at Middlesboro. We are going to focus on getting better and being ready for the season, no matter who is on the schedule.”

The Yellow Jackets will kick-off coach French’s inaugural year at Middlesboro on Aug. 23 against Garrard County on the road at 7:30 p.m.

Coach Hilton and the Bobcats start their season off against Collins on Aug. 24 at Danville at 6 p.m. in the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic.