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BC has the hot hand, but wary of Eagles

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THE GAME

By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The normal thinking is that an injured animal can be a dangerous animal.

Bullitt Central football coach Danny Leasor knows that is true of Eagles also. That is why he is ready for just about anything on Friday when the coaches’ Cougars travel to North Bullitt to take on an Eagle team with plenty of wounds to lick.

While Bullitt Central enters the game with a four-game winning streak and a ton of momentum, it is North Bullitt that suddenly is the team full of question marks coming off a shocking 76-36 loss to a pass-happy, but seemingly average Nelson County team last week. North Bullitt gave up a state record tying nine touchdown passes in the loss.

The best news for North Bullitt at this point is that there is no way that Bullitt Central will even be a poor man’s version in the passing game to what Nelson County did.

“Sometimes you just have games like that,” Leasor noted. “They will be ready and playing at home. That game was not an indication of North Bullitt. I was shocked. I’m sure they will come out cranked up.”

In fact, Bullitt Central and North Bullitt both have pretty much the same offensive philosophies. That is why Leasor is putting very little stock into what happened to the green and gold last week on the road heading into Friday’s crucial district clash in the Eagles’ Nest.

“I got plenty of tape on them,” Leasor pointed out. “I don’t put much stock into last Friday. When you get behind with that offense it’s hard to come back. They want to run it and power it and control it. That’s not what happened on Friday.”

This will be the 37th meeting in the longest running rivalry in the county and Bullitt Central holds a 20-16 edge. North Bullitt has won the last two meetings after Bullitt Central had won two in a row.

When they have the ball Bullitt Central will spread the field at times, but the base offense is set to run the ball, not pass it.

“We don’t want to throw for 500 yards,” Leasor said on Monday after practice. “But they haven’t defended our run. We still spread it and they still have to cover them. We’ll throw it to them if they aren’t covered. But we won’t throw for 500 yards. We are more balanced.”

Leasor and North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton work from the same coaching manual. They want their teams to run the ball with power, maintain control of the ball and run time off the clock.

At least this year, that philosophy does change in one regard - North Bullitt uses four running backs and any of them can get the ball. Bullitt Central has one running back, Trevor Carnell, who everybody knows is going to get the ball.

“They will be pistol or shot gun most of the time,” Newton said of Bullitt Central’s formations. “Carnell is an excellent high school runner and gives 100 percent every snap. With their size (up front) they can power it at you.”

Through six games, Carnell is one of the state’s leading rushers with 1,207 yards and he has scored 19 touchdowns. North Bullitt is led by junior Josh Exton with 600 yards in five games while Mitchell Allen is just short of 400 yards and Travis Downing is right around 300 yards.

Bullitt Central quarterback Bradley Combs has rushed for 190 yards in six games on 41 carries. He is slightly more likely to put the ball in the air as he has completed 44 of his 89 pass attempts for 539 yards.

North Bullitt quarterback Patrick Egnor is only attempting six passes a game and completing less than a third of those attempts. The Eagles do not have a touchdown pass this season.

The two rivals have three common opponents so far this season and the results have been comparable. Both teams have lost to South Oldham while they have each easily beaten Valley and Southern.

After losing the first two games, Bullitt Central did switch some things around on defense.

They are not quite as many big guys on the field,” Newton said of the Cougar defense. “They have gone with smaller guys on the field to get more speed out there.

“Overall, they get to the ball,” the Eagle coach said. “Not one player stands out. They do a good job in their scheme.”

North Bullitt’s offense will line up with three running backs. Brandon Cundiff will be the lead back in the wishbone with Downing, Exton and Allen rotating into the two back spots. The quarterback is senior Patrick Egnor.

One aspect of the game that Leasor hopes to exploit is that North Bullitt has seven players going both ways. The Cougars will have only two players on both sides of the ball and Leasor hopes to spell lineman Jeremy Flener as much as possible.

Flener had just been playing offense in recent weeks, but the Cougars lost defensive lineman Nate Ennis for at least the next three weeks after he suffered a broken hand in the win over Henry County last week.

Overall, the good news is that both teams are relatively healthy for this point in the season.

This is the first game of the season in Class 5-A, District 4. North Bullitt is the defending district champion, having gone 3-0 within the district last season.

This is also the first game in the battle for the Bullitt Cup, the annual traveling trophy sponsored by Schmid Funeral Home and other local businesses. North Bullitt has had the Cup the past two years following two years in which Bullitt Central had it.

“The winner of this game is in the driver’s seat for the county championship,” Leasor said. “I don’t know about the district yet, but we all make the play-offs. Anything can happen in the district.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was high scoring and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is low scoring. Both teams can score and both teams can be stingy on defense.”

Newton is more worried this week about his own team. He said on Monday that it will be more like 50-50 the amount of time the team will spend this week on itself as compared to looking at Bullitt Central.

“There are certainly things we need to work on,” Newton said. “But, we have to spend time on them also.”

Having such a big game this week makes it easier for the Eagles to forget last week.

“We’ll try to keep an even keel during the week and then  build on Friday,” Newton said of the emotion for this week. “The kids have won the county the last two years and want to keep that going. The atmosphere should be great on Friday night.”

Leasor loves the intra-county battles.

“They is a healthy respect for our kids to them,” the veteran coach concluded. “We respect every opponent, but in this game you can throw out the previous game and the winning streaks. I love this game. This one is meaningful. This is the backyard game.”

Game time at North Bullitt on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.