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East at Shelby on Friday for district crown

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Friday Night Lights!

By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – With at least one play-off game at home already in the bag, the Bullitt East Chargers will have the opportunity on Friday to add a possible second home game as well as a district championship when they travel to Shelby County.

Despite a loss to North Bullitt two weeks ago, Shelby County is also in charge of its own destiny as they can claim the district title with a win over Bullitt East and get two home games in November.

The only difference being that if Bullitt East wins, Shelby County falls back into a three-team tie with North Bullitt and Bullitt Central in the district race and the final three spots in the post-season won’t be decided until the end of the regular season next Friday.

While Bullitt East is playing at Shelby County, Bullitt Central will be taking on a tough task as they will be hosting Simon Kenton, the fifth ranked team in Class 6-A this season. The Pioneers were the state runner-up to Trinity in 2008 and stand at 9-0 this season.

Both the Bullitt East and Bullitt Central games are set to start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

For North Bullitt, there will be a rare Saturday afternoon game this week as they will play host to Calloway County in a game set to start at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Bullitt East vs. Shelby County

The recent past between the two district rivals has belonged to the Rockets as they have a two-game winning streak over the Chargers. The last Bulitt East win the series came in 2010 when the red and gold beat a Shelby County team that won just one game by a 21-19 count.

Last year, Bullitt East thought they had Shelby County on the ropes in Mount Washington before the Rockets pulled away late to win 42-21 with the help of some Charger miscues.

“I know they lost a lot to graduation, but they are still athletic,” Bullitt East head coach Darrell Vincent said on Monday. “They have players who cam make plays. We’ll have to come ready to play.”

Shelby County started the season using a power running attack, but in recent weeks coach Todd Shipley’s team has become more of a passing threat behind senior quarterback Dalton Thompson. Shelby County threw the ball 30 times in a 48-42 loss to North Bullitt and then put it in the air 21 times in a 36-32 win over Bullitt Central last week.

The Rockets have a 4-3 record heading into this game as they will play just nine games during the regular season. Besides Bullitt Central, the Rockets have also beaten Henry County, Spencer County and Ryle.

The two teams do have one common opponent outside of the district – Frankfort. Bullitt East beat Frankfort 21-7 in the first game of the season while the Rockets lost to that team 27-14 three weeks ago.

Bullitt East (7-1) will face a Shelby County defense that can make big plays and also give up big plays. The Rockets are allowing 29 points a contest.

“They are scoring a lot also,” Vincent pointed out. “It’s a fun style for the kids. They kind of gamble, but they have the athletes to do that.”

The Chargers will have to focus on the running back/linebacker duo of sophomore Malik Manica and junior Earl Stoudamire. Thompson’s top receiving threats are junior Tyus Ford and sophomore Michael Perry.

Bullitt East will also spend extra time on the kicking game. Shelby County had a fake punt be successful last season against the Chargers and they have done that numerous times this season including twice in the same drive in a game earlier this season.

The chance to win the Class 5-A, District 4 title is the motivator for this game and something that Vincent is not shying away from.

“No question. We tell them that since they started the drills back in the summer that playing two games at home in the play-offs is big for us,” Vincent said. “We haven’t been able to do that recently. We still have to get another win to realize that. But it is no secret.”

Bullitt East will be pretty close to full strength this week as they sustained no new injuries in the win over North Bullitt last week.

North Bullitt vs. Calloway County

While this doesn’t appear to be a big game for the Eagles who have already completed their slate of district games for this season, it could turn out to be important for North Bullitt if they get into a tie-breaking situation with Shelby County and Bullitt Central for the second, third and fourth seeds in the post-season. The Eagles can certainly use the four points that they would get for beating Calloway County (4-4).

The Lakers were 4-2 at one point this season, but then hit tough times in recent weeks, falling 57-7 to Owensboro and 48-0 to Madisonville-North Hopkins the last two week. Both of those games were on the road.

Calloway County has given up 24 more points than they have scored this season. In addition, they have allowed 331 more yards including the 1,803 yards they have surrendered on the ground through eight games.

The Lakers will run it slightly more than they pass it, but they get more yardage through the air behind quarterback Cole Stetson, a sophomore, who has completed roughly 50 percent of his passes for 1,012 yards. He has thrown 11 touchdowns, but has been intercepted ten times.

The top running threat for the Lakers is senior Justen Pollack with 53 yards a game while juniors Tristen Holland has 303 yards and Josh Jones has 182.

When the ball does go in the air, the top threat is Thad McPherson who has 27 catches for 469 yards.

“They have run into some trouble in the last two games,” North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton said earlier this week. “But they were playing two really good teams.”

The tough news for the Eagles this week is that they are banged up coming off the loss to Bullitt East. The three top threats for the Eagles, Josh Exton, Dalton Casey and Logan James, all have injuries that could limit their playing time this week. Newton was even less sure that Jared Carter and Zack Burton would be able to play on Saturday.

This will be the first meeting ever between the two schools in football. North Bullitt will return the trip to far western Kentucky next season for a Saturday afternoon game. As it turns out, Calloway County will also play Bullitt Central next season in the McCracken County Bowl in early September.

Bullitt Central vs. Simon Kenton

Coming off the tough loss to Shelby County last Friday, Bullitt Central will close out the home portion of their schedule this Friday when they take on Simon Kenton, perhaps the strongest team on their schedule this season.

Despite the 9-0 record and the number five ranking in Class 5-A, Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor feels that his team can compete against a team of this caliber.

“We are outmanned since they will fully platoon in this game,” Leasor said on Tuesday. “But, if we play well, we can be successful.

“Is this game winnable? Yes,” the coach added. “But nobody expects us to win. I do expect it. I told the kids that and I told them I wasn’t blowing smoke. If we play well and do what we’re supposed to do, we can win.”

If they can win, then Simon Kenton might be the best team that the Cougars have ever beaten under Leasor.

“It’s somebody substantial for sure,” the coach said. “It’s a challenge. It’s a chance to do something great. I see it (playing a strong team) as a plus. It should be motivation.”

In nine games (Simon Kenton has a ‘bye’ next week before starting the play-offs), the Pioneers have scored 354 points and allowed only 132 points.

The trigger-man for the Simon Kenton offense is senior Brenan Kuntz who has completed 129 of his 178 passes this fall for 1,778 yards. He has thrown for 21 touchdowns with only one interception.

Kuntz’ favorite receivers are Grant Wassom and Logan Winkler who each have 40 receptions this fall for over 1,100 combined yards.

The Pioneers are also balanced on the ground as Kuntz has rushed for 658 yards while Dillion Powell has 477 yards in only five games and Travis Bryson has rushed for 395 yards this season.

Bullitt Central did get some good news this week when junior running back/cornerback Zack Patton was cleared to begin practice again after suffering a broken foot early in the season. He will condition this week and then be ready to play in the final regular season game next Friday at South Oldham.