Trigg County Head Coach Mark Peach makes his Wildcat debut on the sidelines Friday night as the team kicks off its season against Ballard Memorial.
The Wildcats’ season opener is a non-conference game at home. Kick off is at 7 p.m. at Perdue Field.
“We’re not just hitting the ground running; we’re hitting the ground sprinting,” Peach said. “We finally got the go-ahead, but there are still hurdles … do we proceed, do we not.”
With the coronavirus pandemic, Peach said his team has been anxiously waiting for the governor and Kentucky High School Athletic Association to open the season.
“I’ve just been really pleased with our guys. We have a really nice group,” Peach said. “Just happy for them as well as the kids across the state. They have the opportunity to give this thing a shot. I think it’s a good thing. So many kids have sacrificed and worked so hard to give it a go. I think it’s the right attempt here. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get this (season) in for them.”
Peach takes over for former TC coach Coby Lewis as he resigned March 9. According to New Era archives, Peach had been at the helm of the Anderson County Bearcats since 2015 and amassed a record of 114-63, including a 5A state title appearance in 2011 when they went 12-3 to break the school record for wins in a season.
He started his career at Franklin-Simpson, working as an assistant coach there for five years. He was the head coach at Hancock County for two years.
Peach said he and his family are settling into Cadiz.
“We are moved in and we certainly enjoy this area,” he said. “It’s been nice for me to get back in West Kentucky and re-establish old friendships and acquaintances. For me it’s been really exciting.”
Peach said he wants to continue the Wildcats’ gridiron greatness.
“Trigg County has had a lot of tradition in terms of football,” he said. “With Coach Jaggers here and Coach Jones here. I’m excited to be here.”
Peach noted that after the home opener, they play a second non-district game against Murray High School on Sept. 18 before entering 3A, District 1 play.
“Those non-district games are so helpful,” Peach said. “Particularly in this situation where going into district games is such a tight window.
“Those district games determine your seeding, and obviously you want to be as high a seed as possible for those home games for the tournament later.”
Peach noted that the Wildcats also will end the regular season with two non-conference games against Caldwell County and Warren Central.
“After you play your district games you can continue to get better and work on some things with two games on the back end after district play going into the tournament,” he said. “That’s how we’re approaching it.”
Peach said he’s proud of his Wildcats and their dedication to football in this uncertain health crisis.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with our guys — just their attitude, work ethic and willingness to adhere to how fluid this situation is on a daily basis,” Peach said of his team.
“We just try to be as positive as we could with the kids. We just try to encourage them to treasure this time that we have together. It’s an opportunity for you to improve yourself individually. We have the workouts leading up.”
Peach said the coaches are “doing the best we can” to protect the athletes from the virus, while talking with colleagues across the state to improve their methods.
“We’re taking it one day at a time,” he said. “Given these challenges, we’re learning if there’s a better way of doing it; a safer way of doing it … We all want to make it a safe and positive experience for the kids who choose to participate.”
Peach noted that several players graduated this spring, but he is pleased with his returning 2020-21 squad. The Wildcats have nine seniors leading the team.
“Senior Jaquellus Martin has had a great pre-season,” he said. “He’s a young man who’s going to do a lot of great things for us. As far as offensively, catching the ball, running the ball, coverage defensively. He’ll return kicks in the kicking game for us.”
Peach said Senior Jordan Wilson will man the offensive and defensive line for the Wildcats.
“Luke Alexander is a returning lineman for us as well,” Peach noted.
Peach said Beau Hendricks is vying to return to the quarterback position.
“He’s a young man that’s going to play a lot of different positions. He’s going to play in the secondary for us,” Peach said. “If he doesn’t win the quarterback job, then he’ll play receiver or running back. He’ll be prominent in the kicking game as well.”
Other Trigg County seniors playing for the Wildcats are Caeden Burcham, Keith Burse, Dylan Smith, Lukis Stroupe, Kion Thompson and Connor Wallace.
Peach said his players have all been attentive and contributed at practices.
“I’ve been pleased with the guys just with the transition,” the coach said. “Their willingness to listen and work hard and to be comfortable and try to take an opportunity to get better here.”
Peach said he hopes the team remains healthy and plays hard on the field.
“I’m just happy for them to have the opportunity,” Peach said. “We’re excited about the 2020 season.”