When it comes to high school district sports rivalries there are but a few that may be hotter than the Estill Engineers and Powell Pirates obsession. That rivalry just got a lot more intense, at least on the gridiron.
Powell County High School announced last Tuesday that they had hired a familiar name as their new Head Football Coach. Mike Jones will take over the helm of the Pirate ship this season.
Jones is a well known in the gridiron wars in the mountains. He has previously coached at Hazard and his Estill County, where he also played his high school football.
After graduating from Estill, Jones played at Union College from 1986-1989, where he was an All Mid-South Conference receiver and kick returner. In 2014 His collegiate career and honors earned him induction into the Union College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jones began his coaching career at Union as a graduate assistant in 1990 and 1991. From there he became an assistant coach at Hazard in 1992. Jones became the Bulldogs head coach for two seasons, 1993 and 1994 seasons. He came back as an assistant coach from1997-2000.
His hometown Engineers were looking for a coach in 2001 and Jones took the job. That head coaching job would last for 18 years. Under the direction of Jones the Engineers were always considered a district threat and a team to be reckoned with.
At the end of the 2018 season Jones retired, but he did not completely get away from the sport he loves. Jones was an assistant for Montgomery County last season.
“I learned a few new things there and can’t wait to use some of those,” Jones stated in a video interview with Bluegrass Sports Nation. When asked about his decision to take the Powell job Jones put it quite simply, “I missed the relationships and working with the kids.”
“We're very excited to be able to bring Coach Jones on board to lead our Pirate football program. He's a proven winner and a ‘players first’ coach,” Powell Athletic Director Doug Brewer stated in a press release. “Coach Jones coached at Estill County for 18 years before retiring. He spent last year as an assistant at Montgomery Co. but is now ready to return to the sidelines as our coach.”
Jones replaces Josh Kincaid, who resigned earlier this year to spend more time with his family, after two years as the Pirates head coach.
Under the current Covid-19 pandemic, there are some questions as to if there will be a high school football season or if it will be postponed, maybe even shortened. Regardless, when the Pirates hit the gridiron Coach Jones looks forward to another year with his new “Boys of Fall.”
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It was a classic game between two rivals who know each other very well. Powell versus Estill is usually the district championship game, but this year it was the first round two against three seed game at Stanton for the 56th District Tournament. The two rivals split the regular season, so the win-or-go home game on Monday night took on an air of survival.
Powell fought from behind all night. In fact they trailed by 14 with just over four minutes to play. But a late flurry of action pulled the Lady Pirates to within one, before they fell to the Lady Engineers 56-53 in a heartbreaker.
The two teams matched up pretty well early on. Powell held an early lead and the two remained tied for most of the first quarter. Estill pulled away late to make it 14-10 after the quarter. The action heated up in the second, but Estill grabbed control. The Lady Engineers led 24-17 at the half.
The teams went to work quickly in the third quarter. Powell would pull to within four points, the Estill would push the lead back out to nine. It was that way throughout the period. The Lady Pirates would get close, but could not get over the hump. Estill led 38-31 as the game entered the fourth quarter.
In the final frame Estill went on a run. They steadily grew their lead. When Estill’s Haley Angel hit a turnaround jumper in the lane with 4:51 to play the Lady Engineers led 49-35. Then Powell made their run.
The Lady Pirates went to war and created some chaos for Estill. Powell battled their way back and trailed 51-49 with 1:21 to play. But missed free throws and missed opportunities on Estill’s miscues stalled the comeback effort. Despite stalling, Powell was very much into the game right up to the last second. Trailing by three and four seconds to play, Powell’s Bree Bush attempted a desperation trey. But it fell short, as did Powell’s comeback run and tournament dreams. Estill won, 56-53.
Powell was led by Macey Howell, who played he entire game, with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Mikyra Caudill, who fouled out of the game, tossed in 12 points and dished out four assists. Presley Hall came off the bench to score seven, Cloe Grater added six while Kenna Neal and Kanzas Stephens each chipped in four points. Kiera Anderson scored three points and Bree Bush added a free throw to round out the scoring.
Estill was led by Angel with 19 points. Mia Hale, who also played he entire game, chipped in 17 points for the Lady Engineers.
Powell closes their season with an 8-17 record.
Estill advances to the 56th District Championship Game where they will play Owsley County. The Lady Owls won easily over Lee, 63-15.
(Story was updated to make a few minor corrections - JC)
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