Jon Smith served as a do-it-all option for Edmonson County’s offense last season.

The rising junior quarterback led the Wildcats in passing, naturally, but he also topped the team in rushing during last season’s 4-7 campaign that ended in the first round of the KHSAA Class 3A state playoffs.

That was not an ideal situation and one Wildcats coach Nathan Smith doesn’t want to repeat this year.

“It was not by design,” Nathan Smith said during Sunday’s Paul Gray Prep Sports Media Day at 6-4-3 Sports Bar and Grill. “I would rather that not happen, but it was just something where you know he was a decent runner for us. We needed him to do that for us last year, but I would much rather that not be the case going forward this year.”

Jon Smith will still be a focal point of the offense after passing for 1,215 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He also added 511 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Wildcats have loads of experience back as they make the transition from Class 3A, District 2 to Class 2A, District 3 this season. Thrust into a new alignment that includes Metcalfe County, Monroe County, Green County and Clinton County, the Wildcats are among the favorites to win the district.

“This year we’ve got guys coming back who have played,” Nathan Smith said. “They weren’t ready to play, but they played. Last year really sucked for us, but this year it’s great experience.”

It starts up front, where the Wildcats return four of five starters on the offensive line. That veteran group will be a strength for the offense, which has used that experience to quickly progress through the playbook.

“I tried to work on learning my plays better, getting better at pass blocking and everything and just going over that,” Edmonson County senior two-way starting lineman Layke Sanders said.

The Wildcats also have plenty of returnees at the skill positions. Matthew Shaw (259 rushing yards) and jack-of-all-trades senior Chance Lucas should see carries out of the backfield, while top wideouts Brock Stethen (30 catches, 428 yards, 2 TDs) and Isaiah Johnson (24-282-1 TD) also return.

“It’ll be similar,” Nathan Smith said of the offense. “With a returning quarterback, it makes it a little bit easier on us. Going into the season last year, we just didn’t know what we had. But most of our skill kids are back, actually pretty much every one of our skills kids is back from last year. So just knowing what we have going into it makes it a lot easier.”

Stethen, a defensive back, led the team in tackles last season with 76. Defensive lineman Daniel Pereria (56 tackles, team-high three sacks), Lucas at defensive back (team-high four interceptions, 40 tackles) and middle linebacker Matthew Shaw are among the leaders on that side of the ball.

The Wildcats will rack up plenty of mileage in the first half of the season, with only one home game in their first five before playing three straight at home and then wrapping up with two more road games to close out the regular season.

“It will be nice later in the season – football kind of can wear you down a little bit and we’re having a lot of home games in a row, so that part of it’s pretty nice,” Nathan Smith said.

Nathan Smith said his team is eager to get the season started against Portland (Tenn.) on Aug. 23 in the Kenway Concrete Bowl at Warren East.

“The summer’s been great for us so far,” Smith said. “We returned quite a few players, so it makes it a little bit easier on us when that happens. Just a great group of kids that I have that’s ready to go and play some football. We’re kind of getting tired of hitting each other. We had a great summer, but we’re really glad the summer’s over.”

Edmonson County 2019 Schedule

Aug. 23 – vs. Portland (Tenn.)

Aug. 30 – Butler County

Sept. 6 – at Grayson County

Sept. 13 – at Hancock County

Sept. 20 – at Metcalfe County

Sept. 27 – Warren East

Oct. 3 – Monroe County

Oct. 18 – Green County

Oct. 25 – at Clinton County

Nov. 1 – at Barren County{&end}

– Follow sports editor Jeff Nations on Twitter @Jeff_NationsBG or visit bgdailynews.com.

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