Chargers get rolling late to beat Waggener

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By Mike Farner

 SAINT MATTHEWS – The Bullitt East Charger football players might have just a little longer memory than head coach Darrell Vincent would like.

     Heading into Friday’s game against Waggener, Vincent could tell that his team was not as focused as they had been a week earlier before the classic 67-59 contest against Nelson County.

     By halftime, Vincent knew he was right as his team had only a 12-7 lead after trailing 7-6 after the first quarter. The halftime ‘motivational’ speech was enough to push the Chargers to a better second half as they returned home with a 33-7 victory.

     Coming after the colossal game with Nelson County and coming a week before a ‘revenge’ game at home against Spencer County, this was a ‘trap’ game for the Chargers and they didn’t handle it as well as Vincent would have liked.

     “It was one of those times where we weren’t really focused,” the coach admitted late on Friday. “We came out better in the second half.

     “These are teenagers,” Vincent added. “They remembered last year and they read the newspapers and read stuff on the internet.”

     Bullitt East had beaten Waggener 57-14 a year ago and that was after a 55-0 victory over the Wildcats in 2012. Waggener has won just five games over the last three seasons and they came into this game after a loss to Iroquois, one of the teams they had beaten in the previous three seasons.

     The mental focus didn’t get any better when Bullitt East scored on the first play of the game.

     “We scored on that first play and the kids thought it would be easy,” Vincent said.

     Bullitt East missed the extra point and then found themselves in a battle. Waggener marched down the field with a nine play drive which ended with a touchdown and then the extra point to make it 7-6.

     The Chargers added a score midway through the second quarter, but they best they could do was the 12-7 lead at the break.

     The halftime talk was pretty one-sided with the Bullitt East coaches doing all the talking.

     “We just got after them a little about being better prepared,” Vincent said. “They weren’t mentally prepared to play. We got after them.”

     It worked. Waggener had run 31 plays in the first half for 180 yards and the touchdown. In the second half, the Wildcats snapped the ball 22 times for only 60 yards.

     “We just got the kids attention and focus,” Vincent pointed out.

     Still, Bullitt East’s margin was only 19-7 entering the fourth quarter. At that point, the coaching staff inserted freshman Konnor Polson at quarterback to spell junior Pierce Kelly. Polson led the team down the field for a touchdown and the outcome was decided.

     Kelly returned to quarterback after the one drive and pushed the Chargers to another touchdown late in the game.

     “It was something we had planned to do,” Vincent said of giving Polson some playing time. “Konnor is a good quarterback and he can throw it. Pierce came back in a converted a fourth and one and then Pierce led the final scoring drive.”

     There is no quarterback question in Mount Washington. Kelly ran for two touchdowns in the game.

     “It was nothing more than we wanted to get the back-up some reps,” the coach said.

     Bullitt East attempted only five passes in the game and the only completion was an 8-yard screen pass that Polson threw. Bullitt East responded with 47 running plays for 309 yards.

     Waggener had only 54 yards on the ground on 26 plays. The Wildcats did complete 13 of 27 passes for 187 yards, but 139 of those yards came in the first half when they completed 10 of 15 attempts.

     Bullitt East did get a scare on a kick-off return when senior tight end/safety Cruise Coulter injured his shoulder. He did not play the rest of the game and then went to the hospital. Vincent that night got word that Coulter did not suffer any separation or break in the shoulder but he will be sore for a time and the coach was not sure how long the senior might be out of action.

     Next Game: Bullitt East will be back in Mount Washington on Friday for the border war against Spencer County. The Bears are 2-1 after beating LaRue County 42-0 last Friday. The Chargers will be looking to avenge a 27-0 loss to the Bears last season.

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