One of the best kept secrets in Kentucky High School football may be nestled down in the small town of Tompkinsville. John Petett, the head coach of the Monroe County Falcons, has turned the school’s football program into a state powerhouse.
The Falcons are 36-17 over the last four years, including two regional championships. And as the Falcons prepare for their season opener on Friday, Aug. 17, the high expectations from the Falcon faithful are still prevalent today.
“To establish tradition, the first thing is you have to have is good players, good kids that buy into your system. A coach is only as good as his players and I have very good players here at Monroe County,” said Petett. “ I have great support here and it is very easy to coach when you have that. It’s a fun time to be part of Monroe County football.
“The last four years, we’ve won two regional championships and we’ve played in three of the last four. It’s very tough and what’s tough is the expectations. When your fans and the community put expectations on you, it is hard to live up to. We try to put pressure on ourselves and we try to live up to that pressure. But every year, we go back to the drawing board, work hard and try to live up to the expectations people have for us.”
The Falcons will be guided on offense this season by quarterback Chad Wilson. The talented senior, who has a strong arm and quick feet, will be given a lot of freedom this season.
“The offense will run through Chad Wilson. He’s probably one of the best kids I have ever coached. And he’s probably one of the top five players in southcentral Kentucky. He’s special, a general on offense and I am glad to have him on my team,” said Petett. “He does a lot of things most players don’t do. It is a good having a kid at the QB position that has the tools Chad has.
“He’s a tailback playing quarterback. He’s a great overall athlete. I told him this year he has the green light to run it or pass it, whatever he sees happening on the field. I am putting the ball in his hands, letting him make the decisions.”
In the backfield with Wilson will probably be Jacob Hodges at fullback and either Carlton Huff and Tanner Strode at tailback.
“We’re really going to have a trio back there this year. We will have a three-head monster,” said Petett. “They all run the ball well and, in any formation we put them in, they can produce positive results for us.
“It is a benefit for us to be able to have some different options to use. However, it all runs through Chad. We’re going to run the option, the option pass and he’s going to call the plays from the line of scrimmage.”
One of the strengths for Monroe County will be along the offensive line. Five seniors should get the starting nod along the offensive line.
“We have five seniors across the front line, but we’re still learning our scheme,” said Petett. “We have Matthew Payne at center, Mason Chandler at guard and Jordan Page at guard. We should also have Chandler McPherson at tackle and Dylan Hale at tackle. We feel like day in and day out, they should be solid for us, getting better on every play.”
And the Falcon “Air Force” should offer Wilson plenty of options to throw to. Trevor Hyatt or Mason Kilmon will start at tight end with Brooks Murphy, John Reecer and John Stone Proffitt seeing time at wideout.
“Brooks Murphy is our No. 1 receiver. He’s a quality receiver with a lot of speed. John Reecer and John Stone Proffitt are the other two receivers. Damien Hamilton could also see time there. We think we have a quality receiving corps that can take pressure off Chad when they need to and give him the opportunity to pass it.”
And that will be important because Petett said the passing game will play a big role in the Monroe County attack this season.
“We hope to open it up. Actually we’re going to have to to take the pressure off Chad. We’re going to throw it more than we have in the past. In the preseason, our receivers have played a lot better, their quality of play has improved. Hopefully, we will be a 60-40 team, running the ball 60 percent of the time and throwing the ball 40 percent of the time.”
Petett returns nine starters on the defensive side of the ball. This year’s unit will be anchored by Hodges at middle linebacker. He will be joined by Murphy, Corey Bryant and Wilson.
“Our offense is ahead of our defense, as it is with most teams,” Petett said. “The defense will be anchored by Jacob Hodges, he’s one of the best linebackers in the area. His quality of play and his leadership are very good and he is basically a coach on the field.
“We have the numbers, especially along the defense line, to platoon. Our defensive line is strictly on the defensive line. And that’s a positive for us because as the season goes on, we will be fresh. The kids that we’re platooning should have a lot of experience by the time we get to district play.”
Matthew Payne, Jay Glover, Tim Cole, Trey Williams and Austin Kunkler could see time at defensive tackle while the two defensive ends will probably be Kilmon and Huff.
The Falcons’ schedule this year, just like most years, is laden with talented teams. Monroe County will open with Franklin-Simpson, which played for a state championship last year, and later play rival Glasgow, which also played for the state title last year. Every Friday night will be a battle for the Falcons.
“We try to play teams early in the season that resemble the Paducah Tilghmans, the Fort Campbells, the Trigg counties, the teams we’re going to play in the playoffs,” said Petett. “We do that on purpose. We also play Glasgow for the rivalry. That’s always been a huge rivalry…every game I schedule I do it from the standpoint of preparing us for the region.
“But the key for us is we’ve got to get in sync with what we’re doing. People talk about injuries being keys to the season, we’ve got to get better every day, keep improving. As long as we buy into what we’re doing, get better every day, then I think we’ll be OK.”