Skip to content

Full Steam Ahead

By T.J. Morgan 

Freelance Sports Writer 


Metcalfe football hit the gridiron Friday for a preseason scrimmage against Russell County. Coming off a very successful 2022 campaign, the Hornets will look to continue their winning ways in 2023. Coach LJ Harbison was willing to entertain a few questions before taking the field Friday night. 

 T.J. – Metcalfe lost a lot of seniors last year, a magnificent amount of talent from both sides of the ball. You do return two studs in Mason Estes and CT Branstetter. What do you expect from them and who else should fans expect to see major contributions from this season? 

 LJ – Mason and CT were named captains by their teammates early in the year, so their peers know, and they should know what is expected of them for this team to be good. We return five starters on both sides of the ball and a lot of people who started in different packages throughout the year. Creating depth at the offensive and defensive line position will be the key this year. Only having three linemen on each side of the ball with varsity experience, young freshmen and sophomores will have to grow up fast. Trey Branstetter, Tyler Vibbert, Brayden Neal, and Keegan Williams all have valuable playing time on the line. At skill positions we will look for Zach Perdue to build off his awesome freshman season starting on both sides of the ball for us last year. We have more depth than ever at skills positions. I have 3 QBs, we are 4 deep at all offensive and defensive skill positions, so competition is making those groups work hard. Two years ago, I had no backup QB and taught Mason how to say down set go! So, we’ve come a long way. 

 T.J. – For those around the program it is obvious there was an all-in culture with last year’s team. With so many new faces, what has been the process of keeping the mindset around the program? 

 LJ – The standard has been set within the program for the last few years that we want to have a winning season, win district, win a playoff game, and win region. It doesn’t take long in this program to realize you have to show up and put in the work each day. Our motto this year is #onemorerep. We want these new faces to make sure they match the expectations of the older kids and coaches by getting another rep. And the older guys realize they need to get one more rep to make sure they can carry these young guys to where we want to be. 

 T.J. – You still have a preseason scrimmage to get in and I know you are a man that likes to take it one week at a time, but looking forward to week one against Barren County, it was obviously a hard fought 12-9 victory over at Barren to open last season, how important is it for the Metcalfe faithful to come out and pack the hill and bring that energy we saw coming down the stretch last season? 

 LJ – Metcalfe faithful over the years keep getting better and better. Three years ago, there may have been three different groups tailgating. Last year as soon as people arrived up on the hill, all you could see was charcoal smoke from all the people tailgating. It’s awesome to see as a coach and the kids feed off that energy pregame and carry it into the game. Don’t let us down this year, we have a heavy home slate to start the year, this Friday vs Russell County, next Thursday at home vs Warren East, and then the regular season opener vs Barren County on the 18th at 7:00 PM. I expect the stands, track, and cars to be packed.  

 T.J. – You have been a part of Hornet football since your birth. You have played and coached in big games. Will you still have butterflies on opening night? 

 LJ – I no longer get butterflies, but in high school and college I would have to take a shot of Pepto to calm the butterflies. Now that I have been a coach, I wake up early with excitement and energy on gameday. Once dead period is over in July, its football season, that off-season grind and hard work is over. Once it is game day, it’s time to have fun and let that energy out. 

 Metcalfe County is lucky to have a coach so devoted to their program. Coach LJ lives and breathes Metcalfe County football. Expect more victories from the Metcalfe coaching staff and this talented group of Hornets. 


Leave a Comment