Middlesboro Middle School finishes the regular season undefeated

Published 1:39 pm Monday, September 23, 2019

The Middlesboro Middle School football team has had one of the most memorable, if not the most memorable, seasons in recent memory. Closing out the regular season undefeated, including big wins over Harlan, Pineville and Bell County, the Yellow Jackets seem ready to go for the district tournament, beginning on Tuesday.

Middlesboro’s seventh and eighth grade team started their season with a 46-8 win over Harlan and didn’t look back from there. Rattling off five straight wins, the Yellow Jackets finished their regular season undefeated.

“We started the season off strong with a conference win over Harlan,” said Middlesboro coach Charlie Lambert. “It gave us a good confidence boost from the beginning of the season. We set the goal of finishing the regular season undefeated, and we felt like we got off to a great start by winning that game.”

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After defeating the Green Dragons, the Yellow Jackets fixed their sights on the Mountain Lions from Pineville. After defeating the Lions, the Yellow Jackets moved to 2-0 in conference play.

“We scrimmaged Pineville before the season got started, probably two or three days after we got our pads,” said Lambert. “We had a pretty good idea of how they played. I think that was our most complete game as a team all year. We allowed zero points and put up 36 of our own. Feeling like you dominate a game on all phases does a lot for confidence. Much like the Harlan game, we felt like this one gave us a nice boost.”

With some confidence and success under their belt, the Yellow Jackets continued to perform extremely well. Middlesboro then downed Bell County before taking down Lynn Camp at home 42-16.

“I’ve coached most of these guys, in some capacity, since they were five years old,” said Lambert. “Bell County has always seemed to be this team’s kryptonite. It was a very big deal, not only to the team but to just about everyone involved with the team when we defeated Bell.

“Most people consider Bell County to be the football school around here. So, winning that game was a huge boost in confidence for us and helped us as we moved forward. This game was more of a mental hurdle than a physical one. Our team got to see that they can play with literally anyone. Not only play, but win.”

Now the Yellow Jackets hope to parlay some of their regular season success into the offseason with the district tournament starting on Tuesday. Middlesboro is the one-seed and if they win on Tuesday, they will be playing in the championship game on Saturday.

“We start conference play on Tuesday,” said Lambert. “I’ve told these guys that the regular season was a tune up for us. Everything we’ve done this season has lead to this point. Not only do we want to win the district, we want to go even further. We want to make the state tournament and make as deep of a run as we can. I think we really have what it takes to make some waves this year in the playoffs. These guys are really starting to buy in to what we are doing, and it shows. I am very proud of them this year, but we aren’t done yet.”