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MOUNT WASHINGTON - While the overall records were the same in each of the past two seasons for the Bullitt East Chargers, 4-7, head coach Darrell Vincent thought that his team was much more consistent and competitive in 2012.
“The Spencer County game was the only one where we didn’t show up to play,” Vincent said recently when looking back on his second season at the helm. “Every other game we had a chance to win in the fourth quarter.”
In both of Vincent’s seasons at the helm, the Chargers have won just one district game and have yet to win a post-season contest. Still, with a relatively young team, Bullitt East had a chance to win a lot more games. In every loss except the Spencer County game, the team was within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We still think back on Shelby County and Nelson County,” the coach added. “We were down early and then we got back in it. Then we have a breakdown and they score.
“We competed in every game and into the fourth quarter,” Vincent noted. “We just have to learn to win. I think we made progress.”
This was a better offensive team than its predecessor as the Chargers averaged 12 more points a game this fall.
“Defensively, we gave up too many big plays,” Vincent said. “Some of that was having a lot of sophomores on defense. They played their best at the end.”
The toughest two losses of the season to the same opponent - Jeffersontown. Bullitt East had control of the regular season meeting, but lost 28-27. Then, in the first play-off game, Bullitt East was right there again before losing 17-16 on the road. A week after the second win over Bullitt East, Jeffersontown scored 42 points against Shelby County.
After the last game, Bullitt East said goodbye to 11 seniors. Seven of those seniors started on one side of the ball or the other...or both.
Still, considering players that started a game here or there, Vincent says that the team has eight returning starters on each side of the ball heading into spring practice.
The Chargers will lose quarterback Anthony Doran as well as linemen Gage Logsdon, Andrew Okruch and Austin Story, plus running backs Blake McGill and Jesse Porter.
Okruch, who would like to major in engineering in college, has some options to play at the next level as does Noe as a kicker.
Okruch also has the ability to get college aid for track after he was the state runner-up in the discus last spring. Noe had one of the strongest legs in the area, often putting kick-offs out of the endzone. For the season, Noe kicked a pair of field goals.
Some of the other seniors could decide on a college career in the spring.
“We had a lot more depth than last year,” Vincent said. “The guys who backed up got a lot of playing time. At most spots, we’ll be solid.”
Of course, fans always like to think quarterback first and Doran took just about every snap of meaning this season. The quarterback for the junior-varsity squad was Sam Lowe, a sophomore. Of the younger quarterbacks, freshmen Blake Hester and Matthew Snawder got snaps with the freshmen team while sophomore Alex Elkins backed-up Lowe with the junior-varsity squad.
All four will get a hard look during spring drills.
Those young quarterbacks did play for winning teams. The Bullitt East junior-varsity squad posted an 8-1 record with the only loss coming to North Bullitt. The Charger freshmen team was 9-1 with the only loss coming by a 6-0 score to Louisville Central.
“This junior class has always won the titles or lost to John Hardin when they were younger,” Vincent noted. “Some of the juniors provided leadership this year. I think they will be good leaders for us.”
The Chargers do return their leading rusher from this season, Brandon Samuels, who finished with 753 yards. Also returning are the teams’ top three receiving threats in Paul Miles, Trent Meredith and Cruise Coulter.
Bullitt East did take a few weeks off from football after the end of the season, but the squad is not back working in the weight room. After the Christmas break there could be some weight lifting competitions for the team. The coach would like to see some of his players taking part in wrestling.
For the second year, the KHSAA is giving coaches more flexibility in scheduling spring drills. At this point, Vincent is thinking that he won’t put on the pads until after spring break.
There isn’t really a lot of stuff that football teams are allowed to do in June like they have in some years past. The state now does not allow 7-on-7 work until after the ‘dead period’ ends on July 9. Teams will start practicing again on July 15.
Next season will be the start of a new scheduling rotation for all football teams. The district alignment has not changed.
Bullitt East will open the next two seasons playing in the Death Valley Bowl at Lincoln County High School where former Bullitt East head coach Mike Settles is now the head coach. The Chargers will open the 2013 season taking on Frankfort and in 2014 will play Boyle County in the opener.
The rest of the schedule has changed very little. Bullitt East did drop Jeffersontown and picked up Oldham County. The order for the non-district games has changed a little, but the opponents have stayed the same.