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HEBRON ESTATES - Heading into the last game of the regular season, the North Bullitt Eagles have already wrapped up the top-seed in the district and they know who they will play in the first round of the post-season - Grayson County.
If that was the case in the NFL, a team in that situation would start sitting players to avoid injury. That won’t be the case for the Eagles when they travel to Fairdale on Friday according to head coach Brett Newton.
The veteran coach will be looking to build more momentum with a seventh straight win to end the regular season. Newton also pointed out that he has had players get hurt in PE classes at school and in pre-game warm-ups, so injuries can happen anytime. With that in mind, the coach will go with his front line players until the outcome is decided on Friday.
As of Monday, Newton did not have a lot of information on Fairdale as the film exchange over the weekend didn’t take place. The squads didn’t get that done until the junior-varsity contest on Monday night.
Still, the squads are former district rivals and have often played each other over the past decade so Newton knows what to expect. This will be the seventh meeting all-time between the two neighbors. The team played yearly from 2001 to 2006 with Fairdale holding a 4-2 advantage.
What is different this year is that Fairdale is struggling mightily under first-year head coach Chris Engstrand. The Bulldogs are 2-7 and will not make the play-offs this season.
Fairdale looked impressive in a pre-season scrimmage against Bullitt Central and then won its second game of the regular season 27-21 over Bullitt East. The season then began falling apart after a 63-6 loss to Butler and it completely disintegrated last week when the Bulldogs were beaten by Valley 27-14.
The 2-7 record has even left Newton scratching his head over the normally strong Bulldog program.
“They have had some surprising losses,” the coach said on Monday night. “Just looking at what they did last year and what they had coming back you would have expected more. They have (wide receiver Richard) Rudolph and (quarterback Boo) Crabtree. I’m kind of shocked where they are right now.”
North Bullitt crushed Valley 61-20 early in the season.
“It doesn’t add up well,” Newton said. “I don’t know what issue they have going on.”
One thing for sure is that Fairdale is going to put the ball in the air. In seven games this season, the Bulldogs have rushed for only 545 yards while throwing for 1,525 yards.
Crabtree is the triggerman as he has thrown for all but six of those yards. In seven games, the senior has completed 120 of his 213 passes with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
The speedy Rudolph is by far the team’s leading receiver with 50 receptions in seven games for 848 yards. The top rusher for the Bulldogs is Richard Deloney with 308 yards.
North Bullitt had no new injuries in the 41-15 win at Trigg County last Saturday. The team did not have Zach Foster, Nick Crisp and Josh Exton for that game, but Foster and Crisp could play this week. Newton was also hoping that Exton could return to practice this week and be ready for the post-season.
“After winning the district, we told them not to stop,” Newton said of the two non-district games leading into the play-offs. “We want to be 9-1. You don’t want to go to the play-offs with a bad taste in your mouth. We want to win this game and then we’ll start pulling people.”
Game time at Fairdale on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.