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MOUNT WASHINGTON - Despite being only 45 minutes apart, Bullitt East and North Hardin will clash in football for the first time on the varsity level on Friday in the first-round of the Class 5-A play-offs.
The contest will be played at Bullitt East as the Chargers have the number two seed in District 4 while the Trojans are the third-seeded team from District 3.
North Hardin comes into this game with a 5-5 record against strong opposition while Bullitt East is 4-6 after losing the last three games of the regular season.
The good news in Mount Washington is that the Chargers should get back some more of their injured starters who have missed a lot of action over the last part of regular season.
Both teams have suffered from the same problem this season - inconsistency. Amazingly, the Trojans have won every other game this season in posting that .500 record.
North Hardin pulled off a huge victory two weeks ago when they beat Class 6-A rival Meade County 27-22. The team then closed out the regular season with a 35-14 loss at Owensboro Catholic.
Playing in a tough district, North Hardin got the number three seed with blow-out wins over Iroquois and Grayson County. They had a lot more trouble with the top two teams in the district, falling to John Hardin and Jeffersontown by at least three touchdowns in each game.
Bullitt East will be facing a North Hardin team that will look much like the Chargers did over the past two seasons. The reason for that is that former Bullitt East head coach Doug Preston is now the offensive coordinator at North Hardin for head coach Craddock Jaggers.
That means that the Trojans are run first and that the basic offense is a power wishbone formation. Vincent and some of the other Bullitt East assistant coaches worked under Preston so they know the power wishbone offense well.
Vincent did point out that the Trojans have spread the field out a little more than the Chargers used to do because of their speed, but that they will run the ball about 80 percent of the time.
For the season, North Hardin has run for 2,378 yards while passing for only 619 yards.
“They run the spread just enough to get you doing something different,” the Charger head coach said on Monday. “They still want to run the ball primarily. They will throw some screens and they have the ability to throw the deep pass.”
The top running threat for the Trojans is senior Matthew Brownell who has rushed for 1,231 yards in the ten games this season. Brownell has scored 18 touchdowns this fall with 17 of those coming on the ground.
The number two rusher for North Hardin this season is junior quarterback Michael Brunson who started out as a running back but then shifted to quarterback when Hunter Raj struggled. No other Trojan running back averages more than 26 yards a game.
While under center, Brunson has completed 22 of his 51 pass attempts with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Hunter has completed ten of 19 passes which means that the Trojans are only averaging about seven passes a game.
Up front, the Trojans biggest lineman will go at 265 pounds and the three middle blockers are all under 220 pounds.
“They have some nice size and they are pretty athletic,” Vincent said. “They come off the ball well.”
On defense, the Trojans want to be aggressive.
“It looks like they are in a 4-4,” Vincent pointed out. “They are aggressive and shoot some gaps. They will load up the box and shoot some linebackers. They are just very aggressive.”
Like Bullitt East, North Hardin has a number of players that will go both ways in this game. One defensive standout that Vincent noted was linebacker Antonio Jackson, a junior.
Bullitt East had Buzz Hadley and Logan Pruitt back for last week’s game against Nelson County and Vincent is hopeful that junior tackle Andrew Okruch will return after missing most of the last four games.
The only player that the coach was saying would not play this week was lineman Gage Logsdon. Also, Zack Caudill was hurt last week and might not be able to go this week.
Another player that could be back in uniform this week is sophomore quarterback Nathan Christmas. He won’t immediately inherit the starting job after junior Anthony Doran ran the team last week and scored 35 points. Both players could take snaps this week.
“Anthony had a good game and really stepped up,” Vincent noted. “We expect Anthony will take some snaps no matter what the situation is with Nathan.”
It’s not going to be a situation where one quarterback is a runner and the other a passer. The offense will remain the same no matter who is at quarterback.
“Nathan might throw it a little more just because he has more experience,” Vincent said. “We have confidence in both guys.”
Barring a miracle of biblical proportions, the winner of this game will advance to face state power John Hardin on the round in the second round of the play-offs next Friday.
This week’s game at Bullitt East is set to start at 7:30 p.m. in Mount Washington.