Bobcats look to build off last season’s success

Published 10:38 pm Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Bobcats open the 2019 season on Aug. 24 at Danville against Collins, in the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic with kickoff at 6 p.m.

The Bobcats switched districts after the 2018 season, joining district five along with, Estill County, Garrard County, Jackson County, McCreary Central and Rockcastle County.

After an 11-2 campaign in 2018 with both losses coming to Corbin, coach Hilton and the Bobcats are focused on working hard in preparation of the 2019 season.

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“I think we have a great group of hard working young men that give everything they’ve got every time we take the field for practice, a scrimmage or a game.”

I’m really proud of the way we have worked over the summer. We are going to continue to work hard and do everything we can to be ready for the upcoming season.”

”They’re working hard and working as a team,“ said Hilton. “We’re focused on getting better every day and growing on our strengths, while getting rid of our weaknesses.”

Last season the Bobcats found an immense amount of success on the ground, which skewed their passing numbers. On the season in 2018, the Bobcats gained 844 yard of passing offense, along with 4,408 yards rushing, with two rushers carrying for over 1,000 yards all while averaging 45.4 points per game.

“London (Stephney) has done a wonderful job at getting ready for the season,” said Hilton. “He has been working extra on his own time, and you can see it paying off. His arm has gotten better over the summer, and he has the speed to go with it. He’s a senior this year and we’re looking for a big season out of him.”

Stephney accounted for 2,000 yards of total offense last season, with 1,200~ yards on the ground and 850~ yards through the air. Stephney was one of two 1,00 yard rushers for Bell County in 2018. (Frazier)

Bell County’s wide receivers benefited from the success on the ground last season, and return leading receiver Jason Jones, who lead Bell County with 561 yards receiving last season and 10 touchdown receptions.”

“We’ve been getting a lot of good work in at receiver,” said Hilton. “Jason (Jones) is one of those guys who has a big frame and nice speed to go with it that can go up and get the ball. We are expecting big things out of him and the rest of our receivers this season.”

Last season on defense, the Bobcats totaled 836 tackles as a team, including 54 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and six interceptions. Bell County returns three of their top five tackle leaders in: Hunter Bailey, Caleb LeFevers and Tyson Thomas.

“You’ve got to be able to hold your opponent,” said Hilton. “A lot of football players don’t realize how important defense is these days. You could score 100 points a game, but if you’re allowing 101, you’re still losing football games. I feel like our defense has been working hard and will be ready for the upcoming season.”

On special teams, the Bobcats will rely on receiver Jason Jones to kick the PATs and will rely on various players to help in the return game.

“Jason (Jones) did a good job of kicking the extra points for us last season,” said Hilton. “He will probably do a lot of kicking for us this season. I think he only missed one all of last year, and we are hoping he can maintain that consistency for us.”

The Bobcats worked hard all summer in passing leagues and camps.

“We’re just trying to do whatever it takes to win football games,” said Hilton. “The guys have worked hard. We had a good summer going to passing leagues and things like that.”

“It really benefited us to play against some of these bigger schools. To not only compete with them, but to defeat them, was really big for us. It builds confidence and helps the players to play better.”

“We’ve made the effort to be where we are at and hopefully it pays off. Right now, we are just focusing on the first game and taking it from there.”

The Bobcats will not be squaring off against in-county rival Middlesboro this season. According to, Bell County and Middlesboro are knotted up at 71-71 head-to-head across all varsity sports, both male and female.

“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,” said Hilton.

“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.”

A lot of excitement surrounds the Bell County football program every year. With their history of success and continuity of success, community interest stays very high. Hilton appreciates the interest from the community year in and year out.

“I’m very thankful to the community for the showing of support every year,” said Hilton. “It not only means a lot to me, but the team as well.”

Aug 24, 19 Collins (at Danville) – Bob Allen Pigskin Classic

Aug 30, 19 Knox Central home Short-Redmond Auto Group Pride of the Mountains

Sep 6, 19 South Laurel away

Sep 27, 19 McCreary Central away

Oct 4, 19 Rockcastle County home

Oct 11, 19 Garrard County home

Oct 18, 19 Jackson County away

Oct 25, 19 Estill County away

Nov 1, 19 Harlan County home