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BC hot, East rested heading into Friday

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THE WAR

By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - When is The War bigger than The War?

When it is also a key district contest.

That will be the case for the second straight year when Bullitt East visits Bullitt Central for the annual big battle. Not only are county bragging rights on the line, but key positions in the post-season will also be at stake.

As if that wasn’t enough, Bullitt Central can claim the Bullitt Cup trophy for the first time since 2009. The Cougars stand at 1-0 in the district as well as the county race after beating North Bullitt 7-6 last week for its fifth straight win.

The Bullitt Cup, sponsored by Schmid Funeral Home and other area businesses, goes to the team with the best record against their county rivals. While Bullitt East and North Bullitt won’t play for another week, the Cougars can stake claim to the trophy with a win on Friday.

Bullitt East will be playing its first district, as well as first county, game on Friday after being off last week. The Chargers are 3-3.

Bullitt Central won an emotional game last week, but head coach Danny Leasor has no doubt that his team will be ready for the clash on Friday. It won’t hurt when he reminds his team that they lost to Bullitt East 22-21 in Mount Washington last season.

“Our feet are on the ground,” Leasor said on Monday. “Our kids know how it has to be. There is no doubt in my mind that we will be ready to play.”

This will be the 24th meeting all-time between the two programs dating back to 1989. Bullitt East holds a 17-6 advantage, but that includes a ten-game winning streak at one point. The two squads have split the last four games with none of those meetings decided by more than 11 points.

Leasor has been battling the Bullitt East split-back veer attack since before any of his players were born. He has seen that offense since Bullitt East head coach Darrell Vincent was running it as a player under long-time coach Mike Egan.

“It’s a lot like when Mike was there,” Leasor said. “They run the same stuff.

“They are solid and sound,” the coach added. “It’s another county rivalry. It’s man-on-man.”

Bullitt Central has been the steady team this season. After dropping the first two games of the season, to strong teams, the Cougars have won five in a row.

For Bullitt East, the season has been a little more up and down. There was a frustrating loss to Jeffersontown by a point and the Chargers played poorly in a 27-0 loss at Spencer County. The team played much better the week before their ‘bye’, but still lost to Central Hardin in the final minute of action.

At this point in the season Vincent isn’t going to make wholesale changes. Still, the Chargers had some time to iron out some shortcomings.

For Vincent, who has played and coached in many intra-county battles, the point of emphasis this week is not that it is a county game, but that it is a district game.

“It’s week-to-week,” Vincent said when asked about which is a bigger rival, Bullitt Central or North Bullitt. “This game is this week and is the most important because it is first. You can’t see them as county rivals as much as district opponents. You have to focus on this Friday.”

Vincent isn’t banking on any Bullitt Central letdown after the emotional win last Friday.

“I know they will be fired up and they have a lot on the line,” the Charger coach said. “With a win they can secure a home game in the post-season.”

Vincent didn’t need to see any tape on Bullitt Central to know what his team has to do this week. He recalls from last year that the Cougars’ offense relies heavily on sophomore running back Trevor Carnell.

“A couple of those were long runs he had last year,” Vincent said. “Then he had that screen play for a touchdown when the refs said that he sat on a tackler and wasn’t down. Plus, he was probably the best defensive back on the field last year and he’s not even playing there this season. He’s a weapon. We have to contain him.”

Carnell averages roughly 185 yards a game on the ground and despite not scoring last week against North Bullitt, is one of the top scorers in Class 5-A with 19 touchdowns.

Bullitt East likes to run the ball also, but they do it more with multiple backs. Through the team’s first five games (the team’s stats for the Central Hardin game have not been posted), there are five Bullitt East players with at least 100 yards on the ground. That group includes Brandon Samuels with 69 yards a game while Blake McGill is averaging 51 yards a game. The 100-yard rushing group also includes senior Jesse Porter, Robert Hartley and quarterback Anthony Doran.

What Bullitt East did gain from the off-week was that Porter had a chance to fully heal his ankle that had kept him out of two games. In fact, the Chargers should be at 100 percent for this contest.

Bullitt Central picked up no new injuries during the North Bullitt game. The Cougars will again be without junior defensive lineman Nate Ennis who has a broken hand, but the team is healthy otherwise.

For Bullitt Central, this game should be much like the North Bullitt contest in that the Chargers would prefer to run the ball. However, they will throw the ball a little more often than the Eagles did.

Bullitt East has not been able to sustain their offense through the air, but they have been able to convert some big plays. Tight ends Trent Meredith and Cruise Coulter, who are the team’s two leading receivers, have turned more than half of their catches this season into touchdowns.

The only touchdown for Bullitt Central against North Bullitt was a 24-yard pass from quarterback Bradley Combs to Tyler Bray.

“They will throw the ball,” Vincent said of the Cougars. “Their quarterback (Combs) is an athlete. Then number 22 (Zack Patton) and number 26 (Nick Norris) are good players in the slots. They have some things they can do to make plays.” 

Last week, Bullitt Central had a definite advantage in the kicking game against North Bullitt. Well at least the place-kicking game and that turned out to be the difference when D.J. Dennison’s extra point kick was the difference in the score.

That won’t be the case this week as Bullitt East has one of the best kickers in the area in senior Devyn Noe. He also affects the game with his kick-offs as more than 70 percent have gone to the end zone.

The two teams were supposed to clash in a junior-varsity contest on Monday, but heavy rain that day canceled that event. The two freshmen squads are still set to play on Thursday at Bullitt East.

Game time on Friday in Shepherdsville is set for 7:30 p.m.