Last season, the Paintsville Tigers finished 6-6 after winning two playoff games before falling to eventual state champion Pikeville.
While the Tigers lost a lot of weapons, they are hoping to reload and continue their winning ways.
“We played a lot of really tough teams, but we also did some really good teams,” said Paintsville head coach Trevor Hoskins. “In the second round, we beat Bishop Brossart, who was the top team in their district. Then, we ran into a Pikeville team that I have a ton of respect for. We just ran into a buzzsaw.”
KEY LOSSES: Harris Phelps, AJ James, Connor Fugate, Austin Allen
KEY RETURNERS: Cain Grim, Brady Fitch, Peyton Adams, Luke Howard
Paintsville lost starting quarterback AJ James due to graduation, but Hoskins looks for Peyton Adams to be ready to guide the offense. However, look for some younger players to push him for time.
At the running back position, Harris Phelps graduated after a magnificent high school career. The Tigers are looking to take more of a committee approach in the backfield with star linebacker Cain Grim, Luke Howard and some fresh names and faces to contribute in the running game.
Carson Holbrook is a long and lean player who should help out at wide receiver. Cedric Stewart is expected to help out in the slot position to help lead the Tigers.
On the offensive line, Brady Fitch is expected to hold down the center position. Teyton Minix and Skyler Bennett also return to offer help and leadership in the trenches.
Fitch, Minix and Bennett are also expected to see time on the defensive line.
Grim will lead the defense at inside linebacker. Last season, he led the team with 112 tackles. Joining him will be Howard. Look for some new names to help out as well.
In the defensive backfield, Adams, Holbrook and Stewart will help hold down positions.
Holbrook became a valuable place kicker last season, connecting on all but two extra point tries and two field goals. Expect for him to continue that role this season.
8/18 – Floyd Central
8/25 – @ Paris
9/01 – Prestonsburg
9/08 – Martin County
9/22 – @ Leslie County
9/29 – @ East Ridge
10/06 – Hazard (District)
10/13 – @ Pikeville (District)
10/20 – TBA
10/27 – @ Pike County Central
“I wanted to find as many local games as I could,” said Hoskins. “So we picked up Prestonsburg, Martin County and some of those game. At the high school level, it’s also about revenue. With those in close proximity, people will travel. It should be good games with a lot of people attending. And I feel we can compete and have a chance to win in every game. At the same time, there isn’t a game on there that we can’t lose. I think we’ll be challenged every week.”
The Tigers will have a lot of youth, but it should be some talented youth. Paintsville has become a strong program. Look for them to show great strides, improve and be prepared for the playoffs at season’s end.