MOUNT WASHINGTON - Coming off the team’s worst performance of the season, Bullitt East has a chance to gain some much needed momentum on Friday as the team comes home to play Eastern.
The game is important for gaining some confidence as the Chargers have an ‘open’ date next week on the schedule before playing three straight district games.
In Eastern, Bullitt East faces a team with some similarities. Like the Chargers, the Eagles had a strong season a year ago, but have struggled so far in 2009 against a strong schedule. The Eagles finished last season 11-2 in Class 6-A, but are only 1-3 this season.
“The big difference is that they have everyone back,” Bullitt East head coach Doug Preston said on Monday. “We don’t have the seniors back and they do.”
After the 63-15 loss to Shelby County last week, Preston was seeing red. By early this week he had calmed some and even pointed out that his offensive line had played pretty well against the Rockets.
It has just become a frustrating season for the red and gold as the injuries are mounting. Everything last week was intensified as five players were disciplined and did not play in the game. Preston pointed out that between the injuries and the suspensions that seven of the 11 offensive starters in the first game of the season were not on the field against Shelby County.
Preston did say on Monday that all five of the players who sat out last week, including the team’s two leading running backs and top two receiving threats, were eligible to play this week.
“They can play as long as they meet the expectations of the coaches,” Preston said. “They have to do the things our coaches expect, on and off the field.”
This will be the first meeting ever between the two schools in football.
The Eagles opened this season with a 41-18 loss to Male and then fell 35-14 to Butler. The team’s only win came in overtime by a 22-21 count over Oldham County. Coach Ken Whalen’s team comes to Mount Washington off a 54-28 home loss to Fern Creek.
Eastern runs a shotgun Wing-T offense and will throw it a little more than they run it. Through the first four games, Eastern has rushed for 499 yards and passed for 625 yards.
The trigger man in the Eastern offense is junior Joseph Kenn. He has struggled at times this season, completing just 32 of 71 pass attempts and he has thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns, six to three. At times, he has been replaced by Tanner Evans who has thrown two touchdown passes in just seven completions.
When the Eagles keep the ball on the ground, the top threat is senior Chris Parks who has 208 yards on 46 carries. Parks is the only Eastern running back who has gained over 80 yards on the ground.
“They will run it quite a bit, but can also throw it,” Preston said. “They will run it a lot more. They will run it at least 70 percent of the time or more.”
There is plenty of speed on the outside when Eastern puts the ball in the air. Junior Jon Davis has caught 15 passes for 153 yards while Josh Hayden has five catches for 139 yards and Jalen Sanders has five catches for 129 yards.
Bullitt East now has two sophomores and a first-year junior on the offensive line.
“They have good size up front, but are not humongous,” Preston noted. “They are not huge, but they have good size and are very athletic.”
Bullitt East did get some good news over the weekend as sophomore running back/defensive back Taylor McMillen was found to just have a sprained knee. He was hurt early in the Shelby County game and the injury looked worse than it turned out to be. Still, he may sit out this week and then take advantage of the off week to fully heal.
A win on Friday would set up a confidence boost to carry the team through the open date.
“It would be a great time to have a win against a very talented team like Eastern,” Preston concluded.
Game time on Friday at Bullitt East is set for 7:30 p.m. This is the second of just four home games for the Chargers this season.