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SHEPHERDSVILLE - The most important game to date in Bullitt Central’s football rejuvenation will come this Friday as the maroon and gray play host to district rival Doss in a key game for both teams.
Doss is actually the defending district champions from a year ago before Bullitt Central dropped down to this district in Class 5-A. As Cougar head coach Danny Leasor is quick to point out, the winner of this game will be assured of hosting at least the first-round play-off game in the post-season.
Bullitt Central, a team which has won just one play-off game in school history, has not hosted a play-off game in 30 years.
Doss finished 10-3 a year ago and beat John Hardin in the regular season, but then lost to the Bulldogs in the third road of the play-offs at home.
Leasor is also quick to point out that a victory in this game will set up a mega-showdown on Oct. 23 in Shepherdsville with John Hardin with the district title on the line.
Doss is just 2-3 this season and has struggled the past two weeks, losing to undefeated Butler 49-31 and then being blitzed by John Hardin 52-8 last Friday. Bullitt Central will be the third straight undefeated team the Dragons have faced.
(While the winner of this game is not actually guaranteed a home play-off game at this point, it is realistically true. The winner of this game would have to lose to Iroquois over the next few weeks not to finish in one of the top two spots along with John Hardin. Iroquois has not won a game this season and won’t beat either Doss or Bullitt Central.)
“I don’t want the kids to play scared. No fear,” Leasor said on Tuesday. “Not many teams are 5-0 (there are just 15 undefeated teams left in the state) We’re 5-0 and have to go out and play like it. We’re doing something right to be here.
“This game can be a big turnaround for our program,” the coach added. “As far as the program, this is a turnaround game for our program. We win and we’ll be playing for a district championship (later against John Hardin).”
Bullitt Central should have confidence with the 5-0 start.
“The way we want the kids to approach it is to act like it (being 5-0) and have some swagger,” Leasor said. “Now it is time to put up or shut up. It’s time to walk the walk and back up the talk.”
Oh yeah, this game is also homecoming at Bullitt Central after the team has been on the road for the past four games. Leasor doesn’t want that to become a distraction.
Because they have already lost to John Hardin, the third ranked team in Class 5-A, Doss is now playing for second place. Bullitt Central, ranked 10th in the class, still has a realistic shot at the top spot.
“We want a shot at winning the district,” Leasor said. “This game overshadows homecoming. Homecoming will not be a distraction. If we lose it will be because I didn’t have us ready to play. That won’t happen.”
Despite the poor showings the past two weeks, Doss is a formidable foe. The Dragons were 10-3 a year ago and have most of the starters back on defense. It is on offense where Doss had to replace eight starters including quarterback Demetruis Unseld who was one of the top players in Jefferson County last season.
This year, the Dragons get a lot of mileage out of a pair of speedy running backs, senior Donald Bethel and junior Tyrone Mack. Those two will line-up on each side of junior quarterback Deonte Yarnell who often steps back into the shotgun.
Doss runs a spread offense most of the time to take advantage of their quickness. They are not as strong up the middle.
“They have a good young coach,” Leasor said of third-year head coach LaKunta Farmer. “They won the district last year. They are a good football team. They are the best we have played. They are like (Bullitt) East but with more speed.”
Leasor feels that the key will be making Mack and Bethel play more on defense than on offense.
“We want to have the ball longer than they do,” the coach said. “Those two, number 25 and 26, are good. They play offense and defense and also return kicks and I think one of them does the punting. They are the two best linebackers we will have faced.”
When Yarnell does put the ball in the air, he has speedy receivers led by 6-3 wide-out Montray Robertson.
“Yarnell has a good arm, but he can also use his feet to break containment,” Leasor said. “We have to work on keeping him boxed in.”
Once again, Bullitt Central could win the game along the line of scrimmage.
“Our strength is up front,” Leasor said of this game. “We have to dominate in the pit.
“We are also going to win the kicking game this week,” the coach added. “We’ve had some problems there and I take full responsibility for that. Field position will be critical in this game.”
Doss will use six players on both sides of the ball, a higher number than Bullitt Central will use both ways.
One problem that Doss has had for much of the season has been holding onto the ball. The Dragons turned the ball over seven times in the opening 13-0 victory over North Bullitt and that trend has continued.
Leasor has ties to Doss, having coached there in 1976, his first head coaching stint. In addition, two of his children have played sports at the school. Just a year ago, Danny Leasor Jr., was put into the Doss Athletic Hall of Fame.
Game time on Friday at Bullitt Central is set for 7:30 p.m. The crowning of the homecoming Queen and King will be at 7 p.m.