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SHEPHERDSVILLE - I've never been a big fan of coaches who use negativity as a way to inspire their team in a tough situation.
However, there are certainly times that it works.
It worked for the University of Louisville recently against Kentucky when Cardinal head coach Charlie Strong openly told anyone that would listen that Kentucky was the better team and had better talent. Then the Wildcats go out and lose the game 24-17.
Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor did much the same last week, bad-mouthing his own team in the week leading up to The Game. Of course, Leasor was saying many true things, even if they were negative. Most of the talk was about how 'embarassed' the coach was with his team's performance in a 27-17 loss to previously winless Henry County the previous week.
Leasor didn't let off the gas pedal the following Monday when I sat down with him in his office to talk about the North Bullitt game. If you didn't already know the coach, you would have thought that the Cougars were no match for the green and gold. The coach questioned just about everything about his team.
North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton wasn't falling for any of the 'coach-talk'. The veteran Eagle coach told his team just that during practices last week. He warned them that Bullitt Central was not as bad as the coach was talking about.
It might be easy for Newton and his assistants to say that and believe that. It is much different for 16-, 17- and 18-year olds to accept that.
Most of the time, high school football teams don't get a lot of input from opposing coaches during the week before a game. They see comparative scores and at times watch film on the opposition, but they don't know the opposing coach from the guy down the street.
(It has often surprised me how often coaches don't let their players view film on opposing teams. Normally that happens when the opponent is not very good. The coaches don't want their players to get over-confident. Newton says he didn't show his team any film on Valley before the Eagles played the Vikings a few weeks ago.)
That all changes in an intra-county rivalry. North Bullitt players have grown up knowing Danny Leasor. They have been reading about him and noting his feedback for years. It is highly likely that some North Bullitt players might have believed all the negative things the coach said about his team, if it was true or not.
I don't work as a megaphone for any coach. However, I often know when a coach is blowing smoke. Still, if the best quote from a coach is that he was 'emabarrassed' by his team's performance, then that is what I'm going to write.
What I will say about Friday's contest is that to me, the biggest play of the game was Bullitt Central's first touchdown when Bradley Combs hit Trevor Carnell with a short screen pass and Carnell turned it into a 48-yard touchdown.
There were five touchdowns and a field goal scored after that first touchdown and the lead changed hands three times after that. Still, to me, that was the biggest play of the game. Why?
I say that because if North Bullitt had scored first, given Bullitt Central's performance the two previous weeks, it could have been a downhill trip for the Cougars from that point. Instead, with a shot of early confidence, they played more to their ability.
With Bullitt Central scoring first, it gave us all a much better game to watch. The alternative might not have been pretty.