Knox Central hosts Letcher Co. Central Friday at 7:30 p.m.

LETCHER COUNTY CENTRAL (0-0) at KNOX CENTRAL (0-0)

* Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

* Storyline: Knox Central opens its season at home for the first time in many years. The Panthers didn’t play at home until week six a year ago.

* Knox Central: Coach Fred Hoskins and the Panthers had their moments during the preseason and even won the Air Assault on the Bluegrass 7-on-7 tournament held at South Laurel that included 18 teams, some from Lexington and beyond. But a disappointing performance in their final tune up, the SEKC Grid-o-Rama against Bell County, left a bad taste in the Panthers’ mouths, leaving them roaring and ready to get back on the field.

 * Letcher County Central: Winless a year ago, Letcher Central should be able to change that this season with a strong group of upperclassmen, including 14 seniors and 18 juniors. The Cougars were a pass-happy team a year ago when they amassed more than 2,000 yards through the air compared to just over 1,000 on the ground. With quarterback Nick Sergent, who passed for 1,967 yards and ran for another 284, returning, along with a strong receiving corps, you can expect much the same in 2018. Junior Hunter Campbell is a dual-threat from the backfield who rushed for 314 yards and pulled down 38 passes for another 681 yards. He led the team in both rushing yards and reception yards. Letcher County’s defense should also be much improved with leading tackler Jonathan Sergent back a year after making 113 stops for the Cougars. Hunter Breshear and Campbell also return after making more than 40 tackles each.

* Quotable: “We’re all glad the regular season is here,” said Knox Central coach Fred Hoskins. “We’re all ready to move on from the preseason and get to something that matters. We didn’t play well last week and some of the guys didn’t perform well, so I’m sure they will be ready this week.”

* Next week: Knox Central will be at home, or very close to home, for the first three weeks of the season. After hosting Letcher this week, the Panthers face Alcoa, TN next week at Cumberland as part of the Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic before taking on Harlan County in Barbourville on Sept. 7.

Wade Holland can be reached at (606) 622-5584 and wholland@mountainadvocate.com.