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MOUNT WASHINGTON -- The Bullitt East Chargers have played a lot of top-flight opponents this fall.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, Bullitt East’s first round opponent in the Class 4-A play-offs doesn’t fall into the category of a top-flight team. In fact, the Atherton Rebels have struggled mightily again this season, finishing with only a 1-8 record on the field.
(Officially, according to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, Atherton has a 2-9 record. The difference comes from the fact that the Rebels never played their game against Western because of the wind storm that canceled a week of school in Jefferson County in September. So, the KHSAA decreed that both teams would get one win and one loss for a game never played.)
Atherton’s only victory this season came at home back on Oct. 10 when they defeated Breckinridge County 18-14. That qualified the Rebels for the play-offs for the second straight season as the number four seed in a five-team district.
Since that win, Atherton has lost four straight games to Shawnee, Valley, Spencer County and Iroquois by a combined 164-32 count.
Atherton has never been a football power in Jefferson County and it has been bad for a long time for the Rebels. The last time Atherton even had a break even season was a 5-5 campaign in 1979. The last winning season for the Rebels was a 6-5 mark in 1976.
The Rebels have a new coach this season in Chris Collins and the team has struggled under the new regime after winning four games last season.
“Compared to a lot of the teams we have played there is not a lot of comparison,” Bullitt East head coach Doug Preston said honestly on Monday before the team headed out to practice.
Still, these are the play-offs and it is one loss now and the season is over for everybody.
“They have some real good skilled kids and they also have some of the bigger kids we have seen,” Preston pointed out. “They had a coaching change and they were just starting to rise last year and then the change. They have pretty much started from scratch this year.”
The start was horrible for the team and it really never got better. The Rebels lost to Kentucky Country Day 34-0 in the first game of the season and then lost games to North Oldham, 61-13, and Fairdale, 71-0. After two off weeks due to the weather problem and also their ‘open’ date, there was a 20-6 loss to Owen County before the win over Breckinridge County.
Atherton has just 32 players on its roster and three of those are freshmen.
Preston was able to collect four game films on the Rebels and he didn’t see the team doing the same thing twice very often. He saw Atherton run out of the Wing-T as well as going to a shot gun alignment and spreading out the field. He also saw them run a little bit of option.
He also saw Atherton use three different quarterbacks. What the coach also noted was that the Rebels’ offensive line had five players over 300 pounds each.
On the other side of the Preston has seen the Rebels use a 4-4, a 4-3 or a 5-3 alignment on defense.
Preston knows that his players read newspapers and keep track of things on the internet. The coach isn’t going to try and over play Atherton’s abilities. He just has to tell them that it is the play-offs and it is time for them to perform.
“It’s the play-offs, there is no need to motivate them,” the coach said. “If you can’t get up for games at this time of year, you shouldn’t b playing. I think our kids will be highly motivated.”
Bullitt East has played its two best games of the season over the past two weeks. There was the double overtime loss to Manual and then an impressive 51-14 victory over Nelson County last week.
“Our kids are playing at a high level right now,” Preston pointed out. “I’ve felt all along that if we kept improving that we would play like this. Our kids have had to change coaches also, but the pieces are coming together now.
“I felt if we pulled it together we could be tough,” Preston said. “We have to play one game at a time. Now we have to play a good game against Atherton.”
Bullitt East should be relatively healthy with the players they had available for the win over Nelson County. The team will be without running back Curtis Logsdon for a second straight week for reasons that Preston would not discuss. The coach did say that Logsdon could return for the second round play-off game on Nov. 21.
This will not be the first meeting between the two schools. Atherton and Bullitt East were in the same district on two different occasions, 1999 to 2000 and again in 2005 and 2006. Bullitt East won all four of those previous meetings including an 80-0 victory in 2005, the second highest scoring output ever for the Charger program.
The winner of this game will take on the winner of the Fairdale-Marion County game next week in the second round of the Class 4-A play-offs. Bullitt East would be at home for that game. The Chargers have played both of those teams, beating Marion County at home and losing at Fairdale. Both games were very close.
In fact, Bullitt East will be playing at home through the first four rounds of the play-offs if they keep winning.