PDT Sports Report
After a disappointing and controversial first loss of the season to the Tri-State Sharks, the Kentucky Warriors bounced back Saturday with a 56-20 drubbing of the Clermont Grizzlies to move to 10-1 on the season.
Warriors quarterback David Mallory had an impressive showing with 119 yards passing on 12 completions and also 149 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Jojo Parker also went over the century mark with 120 yards rushing and a touchdown while teammate John Estes added 72 yards on six carries.
In total, 10 different Kentucky players recorded a rushing attempt in the game.
Duke Edwards, a former Portsmouth High School player, joined the team for Saturday’s contest and had an immediate impact as he caught four passes for 75 yards and hauled in two touchdowns.
“I told him to jump in and get his feet wet to see if he wanted to play next year,” Kentucky Warriors owner Ricky Witt said. “I thought he would develop after working with our coaches for a year but he came right in and took pressure off Jermaine Payton as the receiver on the other side.
“Imagine what he could be after our coaches work with him for a year.”
John Throckmorton had two receptions with one of them in the end zone. The Warriors’ offense had a field day against the Grizzlies, racking up 690 total yards.
Defensively, Bobby Yates led Kentucky with eight tackled while Robby Logan, Steve Lee and Nate Fannin each had six tackles. Lee and Jeff Bobo disruptive in Clermont’s backfield each recording a pair of sacks.
Angle Gurule and Lee each snagged an interception while Dustin Winters forced a fumble that Lee recovered.
The Warriors will take on the visiting Ohio Ducks Saturday evening for the last game of the regular season. If Kentucky comes away with the victory, it will have home field advantage during the playoffs.
Moving on from peculiar loss
Last week the Kentucky Warriors submitted videos to Northern Frontier Football League Commissioner B.J. Queen that contained alleged bylaw violations by the Tri-State Sharks pertaining to the number of players dressed during the July 28 contest.
“League bylaws say you can only dress 45 players with five non-active players there as well,” Kentucky owner Rick Witt said. “At one point during the game they had 53 guys dressed.”
The Warriors allege that players from two other dissolved teams were playing for the Sharks in the contest, violating league policy and giving the Sharks a competitive advantage.
“The whole game was just a mess. They beat us, fine, we just want it done the right way,” Witt said. “Bylaws are bylaws.”
The Sharks, who have already forfeited one contest this season because of a bylaw violation, were investigated by Queen, who told the Daily Times Tuesday evening the game’s result will stand.
“I went through the video evidence and did not find anything. There is no evidence of extra players, the game stands as is,” Queen said. “It’s a situation where, once you are accused of something, you are afraid it might happen again.”
Queen said the Tri-State Sharks took photos of their players prior to the July 28 contest as proof of their adherence to the bylaws.
With the result now official, the Warriors now have one loss heading into their final regular season contest.
“I could file a grievance and they could face a $2,000 fine, but I won’t do that,” Witt said. “I would count it as a loss even if they found something.”
Queen said if Kentucky’s submitted evidence supported their claim of a violation, the next step would have been a league-wide meeting.
“If that were the case, we would have held a board meeting with representatives from each team in the league and discussed fines and punishments and then voted on the discipline,” Queen said. “And if it was a repeat offense, the punishment would be heavy.”
Semi-Professional football leagues are sometimes considered the Wild West of the competitive football levels, but according to both Witt and Queen, the NFFL takes policing any violations very seriously.
“This is a great league and we have worked well together. We have a total of two forfeits and four ejection penalties. This is a league where members are willing to work together for a common good,” Queen said. “We want to set the standard for semi-pro football and show that it is classy.”
Witt said the situation is unfortunate.
“It’s tricky. Semi-pro is a very good thing, but some people do not do it the right way,” he said.
A dream realized
A few years ago, Rick Witt had a thought floating around his head about forming a semi-professional football team. Three years later, he is operating one of the best semi-professional teams in the country.
“When we built this in 2009, it was based off a big dream,” Witt said. “In 2010 we didn’t have a good season but we got a structure in place. We have built on that and what we are doing now is what I dreamed of in 2009.”
According the Witt, the difference has been that players have seen the model works.
“After showing it is possible to go to a higher level, whether it be college or where ever, you get better players,” he said.
The majority of Kentucky’s players are natives to the Portsmouth area, but this season Witt expanded his recruiting territory.
“I have done some recruiting before, but not like this season,” Witt said. “We have guys from Mansfield, Akron, all over, but most of our guys are from around Portsmouth.”
The country has taken notice as well. The Warriors have been consistently ranked at No. 2 or No. 3 in the power rankings for semi-professional football.
Northern Frontier Football League Commissioner B.J. Queen said the Warriors have been a great addition to the league.
“It has been a great first year,” Queen said. “We have had three or four teams consistently in the top 25 and the Warriors have been great as the second-best team in the nation.”
According to Witt, it is all about helping his guys out.
“I tell all our guys that if you get that shot for an education you should take it,” he said. “But we can help you get that shot too.”
Warriors selected for NFFL All-Star game
When the team is one of the best in semi-professional football, it is not unusual to have the individual players responsible for that success lauded for their performances. In the case of the Kentucky Warriors, nine players garnered invitations to the 2012 NFFL All-Star game.
Representing the Warriors will be quarterback David Mallory, wide receiver Jermaine Payton, running back Jojo Parker, cornerback Angel Gurule, free safety Nate Fannin, linebacker Bobby Yates, defensive tackle Steve Lee, left tackle R.J. Mosley and center Tim Aldridge.
The All-Star game will be the same day as the NFFL Championship game Sept. 16.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.