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SHEPHERDSVILLE - If one homecoming is special, then two must be spectacular.
That will be the situation in Bullitt County this week as both Bullitt Central and Bullitt East will be celebrating football homecoming. Bullitt Central will be battling Henry County while Bullitt East plays host to Central Hardin.
North Bullitt, which celebrated homecoming last week, will be on the road this week as they will travel to Bardstown to take on Nelson County.
The Friday night contests will mark the final tune-up for all three local teams before the crucial district contests begin next week when North Bullitt and Bullitt Central clash in the Eagles’ nest.
Bullitt East will be off for a week after playing Central Hardin and will then travel to Shepherdsville to battle Bullitt Central on Oct. 5.
All three games are set to start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Henry County At Bullitt Central
A year ago, Bullitt Central played its worst game of the season in losing 27-17 in New Castle.
For a year now, the Cougars have been looking to right that wrong on the return meeting this season. Bullitt Central is poised to do that after winning three straight games and will need this one for momentum heading into the big game with North Bullitt next week.
While Bullitt Central lost last year to Henry County, it wasn’t the fault of the Wildcats. The Cougars just played poorly. With that in mind, Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor is not preaching this week as revenge, but more as a chance at redemption.
“We’re not playing this as revenge at all,” Leasor said in his office on Monday of this week.
“They say that there are three games that a coach has to win,” the coach continued. “You have to win your first game at home and you have to beat your rival, plus you have to win homecoming. So, this is an important game to win for us.”
After facing two strong foes to open the season, and going 0-2, the Cougars have rebounded to win three straight games and have looked strong doing it.
“We are right where we want to be,” Leasor said. “We thought we had a chance to be 4-1, but it didn’t quite work out. After those first two games we’ve shown what type team we can be.”
The Class 3-A Wildcats will be a tough foe for the Cougars. Coach Jason Spencer’s team stands at 2-3 and is coming off a 21-0 loss to Shelby County, a district rival of the Cougars. The two wins for Henry County have come over Walton-Verona and Bellevue. There were also lopsided losses to Woodford County and North Oldham.
This will be a short two-game series as the two schools are not going to renew the contests for the next two years.
“This will be a dog fight,” Leasor said of taking on the Wildcats. “They are pretty good. I know coaches downplay things, but they are better on defense than South Oldham, but not as good on offense. Then the team we just played, East Jessamine, they are better on offense and not as good on defense.”
Henry County’s offense is much like the Cougars have seen the past several weeks and that will help with the game planning.
The quarterback for the Wildcats will be senior Brock Fish who has speed and will keep the ball. The top running back is his younger brother, Mason Fish, a sophomore. When the older Fish puts the ball in the air, he is often looking for wide receiver Cody Tingle, a junior, or powerful tight end Brett Chilton, a senior.
Up front, the top lineman for the Wildcats is senior Tyler Craigmyle.
What the Wildcats don’t have is a lot of numbers. The roster for Henry County had only 31 names and that includes a number of freshmen. The visitors will have a lot more players going both ways than the Cougars.
This is Homecoming Week at Bullitt Central and that does offer distractions. The players will be in the parade on Thursday and there are activities all week.
“We want the kids to enjoy the festivities and get involved,” Leasor said. “Enjoy it but on Friday afternoon come back with your mind right and focused.”
After at least 30 years of crowning the Queen and King before the football game, Bullitt Central has altered those plans this year with the ceremonies taking place at halftime.
Central Hardin at Bullitt East
In Mount Washington, the Chargers are not shying away from a tough opponent for homecoming as they will welcome Class 6-A power Central Hardin on Friday.
This will be just the second meeting ever between the two schools, but they have agreed to continue the series for the next two years. Bullitt East traveled to Elizabethtown last year and after a strong first half, dropped a 28-14 decision that sort of set the stage for the rest of the season. Other than a one-point win over Bullitt Central, the Chargers did not win another game after the bad second half against the Bruins.
Central Hardin comes into this meeting with a 2-2 record after going 6-5 a year ago. The Bruins lost a game to Grayson County to open the season and also have a lopsided loss to Butler. The wins have come over Elizabethtown and last week they beat arch-rival North Hardin 24-21.
Last year’s Bruins squad had a top-tier college lineman, but they don’t have quite that level of player this year.
“I don’t see Division I kids, but they have some good size linemen and most of them are seniors,” Bullitt East head coach Darrell Vincent said earlier this week. “They are still a very good football team. They are very good on offense.”
The quarterback in the Bruins’ spread offense is sophomore Koree Krupinski and the single running back will often be sophomore Christian Sylvester. Central Hardin has two good receivers in seniors Thomas Gordon and Trevor Brown.
On the other side of the ball, the Bruins have moved from a ‘50’ look to a 4-4. The key players are the two middle linebackers, Trey Jaco, a junior, and senior Cody Walters.
The Chargers did get some good news as senior running back Jesse Porter will be available this week. He has not played since getting hurt in the second game of the season against Jeffersontown. Conversely, tight end Austin Story will not play this week after suffering a high ankle sprain in the win over Waggener last week.
Homecoming will always be a distraction for high school players, but they just need to remember that the week will be more memorable if they win on Friday night.
“We encourage them to do other things, but they just have to remember that the main focus is on Friday night,” Vincent said of the busy week. “We’re going into an open week before district play so we have to take care of business now.”
North Bullitt at Nelson County
That is what the Eagles will be walking into this week as they square off with long-time rival Nelson County.
The Cardinals come into this game with a relatively pedestrian 2-3 record, but they have been lighting up the scoreboard behind senior quarter Dylan Beasley who played against the Eagles in last year’s meeting, a 48-20 victory for North Bullitt.
Beasley made headlines three weeks ago when he threw for a state record 652 yards in a 59-38 victory over Marion County. The quarterback completed 30 of 43 passes with eight of the completions going for touchdowns.
Through the first five games this season, Beasley has thrown for 1942 yards as he has completed 121 of 180 attempts. Those numbers include 18 touchdowns against only five interceptions.
The top receivers for the Cardinals are Austin Lavvorn with 38 catches for 690 yards and Khalil Bourn has hauled in 19 passes for 457 yards and seven touchdowns (including four in the Marion County game). Running back Ben Jones has 28 catches for 318 yards.
“Last year they threw for over 300 yards against us,” North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton said on Monday. “Last year we had the running game and kept control of the ball. We have to do the same this week.”
The Cardinals really don’t run the ball often or well. The only player on the team with more than 59 yards on the ground is Jones and he has only 388 yards on 72 carries.
While Nelson County is scoring a lot of points, 192 in five games, they are also giving up points at a wicked rate. The Cardinals have allowed 212 points, more than all but four teams in Class 4-A and that group includes bad teams like Valley and Atherton.
This is the first season that Nelson County has played in Class 4-A after being in Class 6-A since the state expanded to that many classes. The school was split with the opening of Thomas Nelson High School for this school year and the Cardinals were moved down to Class 4-A.
Because of that move, the state came up with a novel plan for them to compete in a district. For this one year, the Cardinals did not have to redo their complete schedule and disrupt a lot of other teams in the area. Instead, the state did a blind draw of the opponents already on the Cardinals’ schedule and found five games that will count as district games. One of those is this game against North Bullitt.
It is not a district game for the Eagles.
“That’s the thing,” Newton said. “They will come out firing on all cylinders because it is a district game. It will be a huge game for them.”
The good news for the Eagles is that they are pretty healthy for this point in the season including running back/linebacker Travis Downing being back to close to 100 percent.