BC’s late woes can’t take away from a strong season

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2012 Fall Sports Review

By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The final stretch of games was not what Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor and the Cougar faithful envisioned midway through the season, but the coach doesn’t want a late three-game losing streak to take away from what was a solid season for the maroon and gray.

As Leasor points out, it should be much easier to recall a six-game winning streak and the return of the Bullitt Cup to Shepherdsville than a three-game losing streak to close out the season, including a first-round play-off loss to Grayson County.

All of that left the Cougars with a 6-5 record. That is twice as many wins as the team had the year before.

“Our goal when I returned here was to never fall below six wins,” Leasor said a few days after the loss to Grayson County. “That’s as far as we’ll allow ourselves to go. After that, we want the county championship and that first-round home playoff game.”

Bullitt Central won six straight games after opening the season with a pair of losses to successful teams. After starting district play the Cougars lost that final district game to Shelby County and then lost to undefeated Warren East before the setback to Grayson County.

“Losing the last three, people will say you were on the downside,” Leasor pointed out. “That you peaked too early. All of that type stuff. No, it wasn’t that at all. Those were three good teams we lost to. Those three teams were 26-4 during the regular season.

“In two of those three games we had chances,” the coach added. “Grayson County we should have won that game. We should have stuck it in when we got down to the 2 (yard line).”

The Cougars played a challenging schedule.

“I felt good about the toughness of the teams we played,” the coach said. “Glasgow was good and South Oldham is still in the hunt (after the first-round of the playoffs). Half of our schedule is as tough as any around here.

“I feel good about the way the kids responded,” Leasor noted. “I’ll be positive. I feel good about the way the kids responded to our coaching.”

The Grayson County contest was the final game for 15 Bullitt Central seniors. Three of those seniors, quarterback Bradley Combs and linemen Alex Gossett and Dylan Downs, started 34 straight games. Of the 15 seniors, 12 started at some point during the season.

Leasor says that as many as 11 of the 15 seniors have shown interest in playing football at the next level. Combs will have to decide between football and baseball while both Gossett and Jeremy Flener will have a number of options based on football and, in the case of Gossett, academics, also. A number of the seniors could play for programs like Campbellsville, Pikeville and Lindsey Wilson.

Still, Leasor can count seven returning starters on defense and six on offense.

Obviously, replacing Combs becomes a priority, as there is no one player who will start spring practice with an experience advantage. Perhaps the two top candidates are freshmen Cameron Dukes or sophomore D.J. Dennison. 

There will also have to be some heavy work done to replace three key linemen.

On the other hand, the good news is that the team returns sophomore running back Trevor Carnell who set a school single-season rushing record with 1,946 yards on 264 carries. He was also one of the state’s leading scorers with 174 points on 23 touchdowns.

“I think we’ll be solid,” Leasor said of next season. “We’ll be in the hunt for the county championships and the district championships. There are times we lose on the freshmen and JV levels to North and East, but you have to look deeper. Not one of our youth league teams won a league championship. We’re a little behind when we get the kids. We have to change that.”

The Bullitt Central junior-varsity squad posted a 6-4 mark this season while the freshman team went 4-6 and were competitive most of the time.

Leasor, who is 66 years old, is saying that he will return for a sixth season of his second stint as the head coach and he doesn’t foresee any major changes in his coaching staff. 

Still, the Cougars will be looking to make a few changes during spring drills and then into next season.

First, the program will be looking to move both of the coordinators up into the press box so that they can get a better view of the action. They have done that off and on in the past with the offensive coordinator, Mike Gossett.

In addition, the offense will look to huddle up a little more after calling most of the plays at the line of scrimmage the past two seasons. The offense won’t change from the pistol attack.

“We still want to change the tempo of the game,” Leasor said. “We feel we can play as fast out of the huddle. We want to run the right plays that give us positve yardage.

In the next few weeks, the weight room will be open for the football players and there will be some competitions during the winter. The state has made it more flexible for spring practice times, but because Gossett and fellow assistant coach Tom Martin coach track, Bullitt Central will be doing spring drills before spring break.

Leasor said that he expects as many as a dozen football players to be on the wrestling team and then many of the players will be competing in track in the spring.

Weight lifting will continue right up until the ‘dead period’ starts on June 25. Coming out of that two week period, the program will conduct its’ annual youth camp before regular starts on July 15.

Bullitt Central was close to completing a schedule for the next two years but still had a few dates up in the air. The team will play on the very first night of the season, starting on Aug. 23.