"We've got some seniors on our team, we've also got a lot of young players too," Haywood said. "So, we feel like we're still improving here at the end of the year which is a good thing for us, but it also shows we've been a little youthful and inexperienced over the course of the year."
Belfry is primarily a running team led by senior halfback Jeffree Pruitt, junior fullback Trey Willis and junior halfback Gary Runyon. Pruitt rushed for 184 yards against Whitley County and 182 yards vs. Pikeville.
The Pirates' four losses have been to good teams- Prestonsburg (21-6), Ashland (36-22), Sheldon Clark (22-6) and Johnson Central (42-7).
"Our opponents have been pretty good," Haywood said. "We've taken a couple on the chin. Other than maybe one game, we've competed in every game, and had our ups and downs, had a few injuries along the way, and we've had a lot of kids play this year."
Mason County Coach David Buchanan says he's impressed with Belfry.
"We're excited about the challenge," Buchanan said. "We're excited about an opponent of this ability."
The winner of tonight's game will advance to the region championship game against the winner of the Russell at Sheldon Clark game. Kickoff is at 7:30.
- This is the first meeting between Mason County and Belfry;
- Mason County is 4-4 in second round games. The Royals have not advanced past the second round since 2003;
- Coach Haywood is third on the Kentucky coaching wins list with 334 career victories;
- Haywood guided the Pirates to back-to-back Class 2A state titles in 2003 and 2004. Belfry was the Class 3A state runner-up under Haywood in 1985, 1986 and 2007. The Pirates were also the Class 3A state runner-up in 1979. Dick Roddy was the coach of the 1979 team;
- The tailgate party is from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The menu includes bean soup, cornbread, country ham sandwiches, dessert and drink for $5.
(Edited to add the 2007 state runner-up.)