HEBRON ESTATES - The North Bullitt Eagles will return home on Friday and will be celebrating homecoming as they play host to Lexington Tates Creek High School.
This will be the first every meeting between the two schools in football. North Bullitt has played Lexington schools in the past including Lafayette last season. Already this season, Lafayette beat Tates Creek 34-19 so the two teams this Friday should be on a level plane.
Tates Creek comes to town with a 2-2 record. There was the season-opening loss to Lafayette and then a 41-36 win over Mercer County. The Commodores then lost to Bryan Station 35-18. After the team’s open date, they beat Paul Dunbar 42-28 last week.
“Looking at the film, they might be the best team we have played so far,” North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton said. “They are a little better than Woodford County. The stats are not overly impressive. It’s hard to tell what to expect.”
During the last scheduling rotation, Tates Creek put out on the internet some open dates. Newton was still looking for a game and made the phone call. The Eagles will travel to Lexington to play the Commodores next season.
The North Bullitt defense won’t have to learn much new this week as coach Mike Harmon’s team runs pretty much the same offense as the Eagles do, the spread offense with no huddles.
“I seem to say that every week,” Newton said of an offense that many teams in the area seem to be changing too. “Any formation we run, they seem to run. Even when they get close (to the goal line) they go to an ‘I’ like we do.”
Leading the offense for Tates Creek is junior quarterback Dee Christopher. In four games he has thrown 89 passes, completing 50 for 391 yards. He has thrown both four interceptions and four touchdowns.
So far this season, the Commodores have rushed for 526 yards and thrown for 433 yards.
On the ground, the leading threat is junior Brandon Shrout who has 176 yards on just 24 carries. The workhorse is junior Jontez Jones who has 36 carries for 174 yards. The only other Tates Creek runner with over 100 yards is Christopher who has carried 21 times for 115 yards.
Tates Creek does not have one favorite target for Christopher when he does throw the ball. Senior Larobert Bett has the most catches but for just 115 yards. Christopher has connected with 11 different receivers with at least two catches.
“They have an athletic quarterback who can either run or throw,” Newton said. “This kid is more balanced than the one we saw last week and he throws it better.”
The overall balance of the Commodores also presents some challenges for the North Bullitt defense.
“You don’t know who to key on,” Newton pointed out. “There is no one kid who you must stop. They don’t have kids that jump off the film.”
On defense, Tates Creek will employ a 3-3 stack, the same defense that North Bullitt uses. That defense has allowed 642 yards on the ground and 421 through the air.
Before the season, Newton talked about throwing the ball a great deal of the time. As the season has moved along, the Eagles are throwing it less, but are having more success.
“We have been pretty balanced,” Newton said. “We had 39 rushes on Friday and threw it 32 times. We are pretty balanced and so are they.
“When you go to this offense, you want teams to respect the pass,” the coach added. “Teams will put less in the box and you can run it. Right now, we don’t need to throw it as much.”
Newton added that quarterback Dalton Hadley’s passing percentage and yardage totals have increased in recent weeks even with the team throwing the ball less.
This will be homecoming week at North Bullitt and there will be distractions. Newton just hopes that the players realize that the reason for the big week is the football game on Friday night.
“One of the first things we talked about after the game on Friday is that this is a fun week for them and the school,” the coach explained. “But, as I told them, without them there is no homecoming.”
This has been an emotional season for the young team. Former player Robert Reynolds died in a car accident and then last week junior lineman Taylor Casey was injured in an automobile accident and will miss the rest of the season.
“We’ve handled things already this season,” Newton said. “So, they can handle this. We’ll be fine.”
Game time at North Bullitt on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. The crowning of the King and Queen will take place at halftime.