It’s a different world up on Log Mountain.
Tucked into the side of that mountain, just a couple miles south of Pineville on U.S. 25E, is one of the toughest places to play football in eastern Kentucky — and perhaps in all of Kentucky.
Bell County Stadium itself doesn’t look all that formidable from the outside. It’s not a pit, but a relatively modern stadium built in the 1980s. It’s what’s inside that makes this such a tough place to play, as Boyle County might well discover when it plays Bell County there tonight in a Class 4A semifinal, and one of the football capitals of eastern Kentucky.
First and foremost, there’s a good football team, one that for most of the past 25 years has been the best team in southeastern Kentucky. The very toughest places to play are only truly tough when there’s a good team inside, and Bell almost always has that. There’s also strong, loyal fan support, the kind of fans who come early and bring a passion for the game that most other schools only wish they had.
Good as it is, though, the Bobcats’ home-field advantage is not unique. A big game at Bell isn’t much different from a big game at Boyle, except that the Rebels and their fans will be outnumbered on the road.
Boyle can win there, and I believe it will. In the battle of Bell’s powerful ground game vs. Boyle’s staunch defense, I’m giving the edge to the Rebels largely because they’ve played a tougher schedule. It’s likely to be a relatively low-scoring game along the lines of what both teams played last week, however, and that would mean the Bobcats would never be far behind.
A Bell win wouldn’t surprise me at all, but I think the Rebels will punch their ticket to Louisville if they keep their turnovers to a minimum. The pick:
- Boyle County 21, Bell County 17
Last week: 1-0; playoffs: 6-2 (.750); season: 51-11 (.823).
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Some links for the long ride to Pineville:
A lengthy feature from Jay Compton of the Middlesboro Daily News on Bell’s 13 seniors.