Area sports was a year of extreme highs and lows, while trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following are the 10 stories that fell into one of those two categories.
1) Corbin Middle School Eighth Grade Football wins state championship
The Corbin Redhounds Eighth Grade Football team capped off a perfect 9 and 0 season with a 28-8 victory against South Oldham to capture the Division II state title.
“They play together as a team,” Coach Brent Jackson about the key to the success for the Redhounds. “They are more about the team than any individual accomplishment or award.”
Corbin defeated Belfry, Clay County and Taylor County to earn its spot in the state final.
Against South Oldham, the Redhounds were solid on both sides of the ball, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, while holding South Oldham scoreless for almost three quarters.
South Oldham was driving late in the game in an effort to close Corbin’s 20 to 8 lead, but the Redhound defense recovered a fumble to end the drive and secure the win.
“You do all of the things you are asked to do in this program,” Jackson told the players at a victory celebration at Campbell Field upon the team’s return to Corbin. “You are relentless, coachable and overcome adversity.”
2) Spring sports canceled
High school baseball, softball, track and field, bass fishing, archery, esports and tennis never got started in 2020 because of COVID–19.
After the pandemic struck Kentucky on March 6, Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) officials made several attempts to delay the start of spring sports with the hopes of having a season.
However, on April 22, KHSAA officials finally admitted defeat.
“This impacts so many people, but in the end, is in the best interest of public health,” stated KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett.
3) Sweet 16 state basketball tournament canceled
Boys basketball 13th Region champion Knox Central and the 15 other region champions had been waiting since mid-March to tip off at the state tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington, while the girls were more than halfway through the first round that included a win by 13th Region champion South Laurel.
That all came to a halt on April 26 as the KHSAA announced that neither tournament would continue.
Knox Central was scheduled to face off against 11th Region Champion Scott County.
On the girls’ side, South Laurel had defeated Seventh Region Champion Sacred Heart and was slated to face the winner of the matchup between George Rogers Clark and Owensboro Catholic.
4) Williamsburg Football reaches Class A final four
After beginning the 2020 season with consecutive blowout losses to Somerset and Lexington Christian, the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets Football Team went on a six-game winning streak to reach the Class A state semi-finals. The Yellow Jackets’ offense came to life beginning Oct. 16 against Pineville, putting up 40 points or more in each of the next five games, while the defense gave up a total of 35 points.
Williamsburg’s season came to an end with a 27-7 loss at Kentucky Country Day.
5) Corbin Boys’ Soccer reaches state final four
For the first time in the program’s history, the Corbin Redhounds Boys Soccer Team reached the state final four.
The Redhounds finished the season with a 13 and 2 record, including a 2-0 loss to eventual state champion St. Xavier in the state semi-final.
Corbin won the 49th District championship by a combined 16-1 score with victories over North Laurel and South Laurel, and shut out Harlan County and South Laurel en route to the 13th Region title.
The Redhounds defeated Prestonsburg 5-2 in the opening round of the state tournament, and Ashland Blazer in the second round, 3-0, to reach the final four.
6) Corbin Boys’ Cross Country finishes fifth at state
The Corbin Boy’s Cross-Country team finished second in the state in Class 2A. Sean Simons led the way, finishing second with a time of 16:44.93, and Jonah Black finished 12th with a time of 17:14.39 over the 5K course at Bourbon County among the eight Redhounds that had qualified to compete.
The Redhounds finished with a total time of 1:28:13.97, for an average of 17:38.80, to take the runner-up spot to North Oldham.
Corbin had swept the regional cross-country titles as the girls’ team had also earned the right to compete at state.
On the girls’ side, Corbin finished eighth in the state. The team was led by senior Nancy Jane Jackson, who finished 34th among the 216 competitors with a time of 21:25.82. Seven Corbin runners had qualified to compete at the state meet.
7) CHS Volleyball goes to state
The Corbin Lady Redhounds Volleyball team captured the 13th Region title to earn a spot in the state volleyball tournament.
Corbin defeated 50th District rival Whitley County, whom they had beaten just days before for the district title to take home the region.
The Lady Redhounds also defeated Knox Central in the opening round and advanced to the finals when Jackson County was forced to forfeit because of COVID–19.
Corbin’s season came to an end on Nov. 2, when the Lady Redhounds lost to Henry Clay in the first round of the state tournament to end the season with a 14 and 6 record. However, the Lady Redhounds went 8-0 against 50th District opponents and 11-0 against 13th Region teams.
8) University of the Cumberlands Football season moved to spring 2021
COVID-19 didn’t completely stop the 2020 University of the Cumberlands football season, but it did hold it up as the season has been pushed back to spring 2021.
The Patriots, who had been scheduled to kick off the season on Sept. 12 at Pikeville, will now open the season on Feb. 19 against Cumberland.
The Mid-South Conference had previously made several changes in the wake of COVID–19, including reducing the schedule from 11 to nine games, and moving games to Friday nights.
As part of the spring schedule, the schedule will include only opponents against Bluegrass Division opponents. In addition to Cumberland, the Patriots will play at Lindsey Wilson on Feb 26, against Georgetown on March 5, at Bethel on March 6, at Campbellsville on March 19, against Pikeville on April 2, and against Thomas More on April 9. The Football Championship Series will begin on April 17.
9) Corbin Football reaches Class 4A region final under first-year Coach Tom Greer
After six seasons, the Corbin Redhounds Football team was in new territory with the departure of Coach Justin Haddix in January.
Haddix’ Hounds had been to the state championship twice in that period, meaning the next coach would have big shoes to fill
However, former Assistant Coach Tom Greer, a Corbin native, took over the reins in February.
Greer had been an assistant under Haddix during the Redhounds’ run to consecutive state finals in 2016 and 2017
In addition, he brought head coaching experience, leading the Bell County Bobcats to state championship titles in 1991 and 2008.
In his first public appearance as head coach, Greer talked about, not only the senior leadership on the team, but the underclassmen behind them, specifically on the offensive and defensive line.
“This game is won on the o-line and d-line,” Greer said. “if you can’t play up front, you’re not going to be very good, so I’m excited about that.”
After a tough loss to perennial Northern Kentucky powerhouse Beechwood, the Redhounds went on an eight-game tear that included victories over 6A Dixie Heights, defending 2A state champion Somerset, and district opponents Wayne County, and regular season and playoff victories over Lincoln County and Knox Central.
The season came to an end with a 28-14 road loss at Johnson Central on Dec. 4.
10) University of the Cumberlands wrestler dies
The University of the Cumberlands Wrestling Program was shocked with the tragic death of third-year wrestler Grant Brace on Aug. 31
The 20-year-old reportedly died following a wrestling practice.
Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley said natural causes was suspected.
According to university officials, the Alcoa High School alum earned three falls in his career with the program.
“He has brought high character and integrity to the Patriots family over the past two years and has always been part of our OneBigTeam,” said Chris Kraftick Director of Athletics.