LRCW's Avatar
ASHLAND — Football coaches Leon Hart of Ashland and Philip Haywood of Belfry share a strong affinity for opponents that will make their teams better down the road.

That’s why the state-ranked Tomcats and Pirates are meeting for the fourth consecutive year, a series that Hart says Ashland wants to extend after the contract expires this season.

“I think for both of us it’s a great non-district game,” Hart said. “All of it is working to get you better for the playoffs, and tough teams in your district.”

Haywood agreed.

“We’ve had some real competitive games,” Haywood said. “They’ve been close. I think fans have always gotten their money’s worth.”

Friday night at Putnam Stadium shapes up as another in a line of tight, physical battles.

Ashland, 6-1 and No. 6 in the Class 4A rankings, relies on its strong offensive and defensive fronts to set the table. Belfry, 5-1 and ranked fourth in 3A, has a tradition of winning the line of scrimmage.

“I don’t ever remember playing Belfry that it wasn’t a physical game,” Hart said. “Year in and year out, they are good ball games.”

Belfry won the 2011 matchup 7-6 after the Tomcats came out on top the two previous years.

Overall, Hart feels fortunate to hold a career 3-1 advantage against the Pirates, including a 28-27 overtime victory in 2006.

Ashland-Belfry series benefits both teams » Local Sports » Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)