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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Facing a team in the top 10 in the state’s biggest football classification is tough enough.
And when you fumble the kickoff on two consecutive plays to open the game, things suddenly got much worse.
The Bullitt Central Cougars fans may have enjoyed the Senior Night festivities and a spirited halftime performance by the band but there wasn’t much else to cheer for in a 43-7 loss to Simon Kenton.
“This is a game we should never play,” said Cougar veteran coach Dan Leasor, who understands the need to have a 10-game schedule. Once Oldham County pulled off the schedule, Bullitt Central was left scrambling for another game.
They got a very, very talented team of Pioneers from northern Kentucky.
The game plan was to slow the tempo and control the ball, said Leasor. That game plan quickly went out the window on a cool, brisk night.
On the first play, Bullitt Central fumbled the kickoff. Simon Kenton recovered at the 30 and quarterback Brenan Kuntz found Grant Wassom for the touchdown. A two-point run by Kuntz made it 8-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, history repeated itself and the visitors recovered once again at the Cougar 30.
This time, it took seven plays before Kuntz and Wassom connected from 11 yards out with 10:06 left in the first quarter. Tyler Smith converted the kick for a 15-0 lead.
Failing to move the ball, Bullitt Central was forced to kick on fourth down. Two plays later, Kuntz hit his big tight endGrant Vercheak for a 77-yard touchdown pass. Smith’s extra point made it 22-0 with 8:20 left in the opening stanza.
After failing to make a first down, the Pioneers needed just one play. Kuntz kept the ball and weaved his way through a host of Cougar defenders for a 79-yard touchdown run. Smith’s kick made it 29-0 with 5:49 left.
On the first play of the second quarter, Kuntz found the end zone after a 3-yard run. The conversion made it 36-0 and that also set the official clock into run mode.
The visitors scored one more time before intermission and it would be their final points of the evening.
Kuntz hit Logan Winkler with a 12-yard toss. The Smith kick made it 43-0 at halftime.
“I tore up the game plan,” Leasor said of his halftime speech.
At that point, Leasor said he challenged his players to work hard and try to win the second half. The Cougars responded.
“The kids played very hard the second half,” said Leasor, who played a lot of his junior varsity team to avoid injury and to give them some experience.
Without a first down in the first 24 minutes, Bullitt Central showed some life after the break.
Tyler McCarthy broke in front of a Cameron Racke pass and returned it 17 yards.
With Trevor Carnell back in the game, the junior ran all three plays, the final resulting in a 31-yard touchdown with 6:55 left in the third quarter. Cameron Dukes kicked the extra point.
Carnell had 87 yards on 12 carries and Timothy Miller got a lot of touches running 10 times for 41 yards. The Cougars did not complete any of their five pass attempts.
On defense, Justin Flener had six stops, while Tyler Bray and Alec Hobbs each had five.
Despite the outcome, Leasor said the real second season begins on Nov. 8, when the playoffs begin.
“We are young and we just have to get better,” said Leasor, whose team fell to 4-5 on the season. “The real season begins in a couple of weeks.”
Next Game: The Cougars will go on the road for the regular season finale as they play South Oldham. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.