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Homecoming at North; BC and BE hit the road

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Friday Night Lights!

By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - North Bullitt will return to action after a week off while Bullitt Central and Bullitt East will hit the road on Friday as the high school football season approaches the midpoint of the 2012 campaign.

All three local teams are still looking to find their identity after some up and down performances early in the season.

All three of the contests are set to start at 7:30 p.m. The homecoming festivities at North Bullitt will take place at halftime.

Valley at North Bullitt

It was be homecoming for the Eagles this week as the green and gold play host to a Valley team that was rocked for 74 points last week in a loss to Bullitt Central.

Even more troubling for the Vikings is the fact that starting quarterback Robert Jones did not play in the second half of the loss to the Cougars. With Jones playing, Valley scored 26 points in the first half, but still trailed by two touchdowns. Without Jones, the Vikings scored just once in the second half of the 74-32 beat down.

North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton wasn’t sure of Jones’ availability for this week’s contest.

That news is really not that important to the coach as he has had his team concentrating on their own weaknesses after the team went into the ‘bye’ week with a disappointing 26-6 loss to South Oldham that dropped them to 2-1 overall

“That was the attitude,” Newton said of working on what the Eagles were doing instead of focusing on any upcoming opponent. “We worked them harder than any time since we put on the pads. They responded well and worked to get better.”

Newton wasn’t making any big changes in the way his team lined up, but instead of working to improve the little things.

“It was a lot of fundamentals,” the veteran coach said. “Just coming off the ball and wrapping up and hitting the holes. It was small things like that. That translates into big things in a game.”

The Eagles have two more games before the big district showdown with Bullitt Central at home on Sept. 28.

“Until we get to district play, we worry about ourselves,” Newton said. “That is especially true when we are not clicking just right. We’ll watch film and see their tendencies and know where we want to attack. But mostly, we’re just working to get better every day.”

If Jones is available to play, the Vikings will be a tough team to shut down. The junior moved to quarterback this season after being a wide receiver a year ago.

Jones has some basketball players out to help with the receiving. That group includes Jacobi Rucker, James Howard and Tyler Oates.

“He’s very shifty and has good speed,” Newton pointed out. “He’s the guy who makes them go. We need to keep him in the pocket and get a lot of guys to the ball.”

Valley has a 2-2 record at this point, having beaten Holy Cross and Iroquois while dropping a game to Pleasure Ridge Park in addition to the Bullitt Central outcome.

Valley and North Bullitt have built a pretty good rivalry over the past 15 years, but Newton says that this will be the last regular season meeting for at least the next two seasons. Valley will be part of a six-team district next season and it is difficult for them to schedule non-district games.

(The Vikings are tentatively set to play Bullitt Central the next two seasons.)

This will be the 15th meeting between the two schools since 1997. That first year, Valley routed the Eagles twice by lopsided scores. Since that time, North Bullitt has moved ahead 9-5 including a 61-20 victory a year ago. In both 2009 and 2010, North Bullitt beat the Vikings in the play-offs.

With it being homecoming, Newton wants his players to enjoy the high school experience while also not losing focus on the importance of the Friday night game.

“That’s what we tell them, that the focus of the week is on Friday night,” the coach said. “So far they have been focused. I don’t think it will be a major issue.”

Newton did say that his team still has a few injuries despite the week off. Jared Carter, the team’s starting right guard will probably be out this week after suffering an injury in the South Oldham game. Jack Barnett has not played since the scrimmage and could be out. Travis Downing will play, but is still slowed by his injury.

Bullitt East at Waggener

Coming off the team’s worst performance of the season Friday in a 27-0 setback at Spencer County, Bullitt East head coach Darrell Vincent might like to see his team facing a tough challenge this week.

Unfortunately, the red and gold have to play at Waggener. Again this season the Wildcats are struggling. Coach Daniel McDonald’s team is 0-3 after a 21-6 loss at Grant County last week. The team has also lost games to Iroquois and Kentucky Country Day.

Last season, the Wildcats went 2-9, including a 55-0 loss to Bullitt East in Mount Washington.

“It’s the next game,” Vincent said of the contest. “They have enough athletes to keep us on our toes. We learned last week that you can’t overlook anybody.

“The kids came into practice today and they responded well with a good attitude,” the coach said on Monday. “We’re still preparing for Waggener, but we’re working on ourselves also and our fundamentals.”

After watching the film of the Spencer County meltdown, Vincent decided there was no need for drastic changes. The team just needs to tweak a few things to get better results.

“The effort was OK,” the second-year coach said. “The first drive was OK. It just ended up being that we were not focused.”

Waggener will attack with a spread attack that will throw the ball 80 percent of the time, according to Vincent. 

“The quarterback is pretty athletic and has speed,” the coach said. “He does a nice job throwing on the run. They make some big plays because their receivers continue their routes. They lack size, but they have athletes to make plays.”

Bullitt East did not have any new injuries on Friday. Senior Devyn Noe who was hurt in the loss to Jeffersontown, did kick the past two weeks, but he should be available to play in the defensive secondary this week.

The only player that the Chargers will not have available this week due to an injury is senior Jesse Porter, who is still slowed by a high ankle sprain. He has been cleared to return to running and could see some action next week against Central Hardin.

Bullitt Central at East Jessamine

After scoring a school-record 74 points last week against Valley, the Bullitt Central Cougars will go on the road this Friday as they head to Nicholasville to take on fellow Class 5-A foe East Jessamine.

The two teams met for the first time last season with the Jaguars winning 15-10 in Shepherdsville.

Coming off a 5-6 record last year, coach Michael Bowlin’s team had big plans for this season and started the campaign ranked in the top-10 in Class 5-A. Things have not gone that smoothly as the Jaguars have lost all three of their games.

Following a 17-7 loss to Spencer County in the second week of the season, the Jaguars changed their offense completely, including inserting a new quarterback. That was the look at Bullitt Central saw on film from East Jessamine’s 28-7 loss to Paul Dunbar High School last Friday.

“It’s confusing,” Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor said earlier this week of watching the two tapes that he traded with the Jaguars. “In the game against Spencer County, they had number 18 at quarterback and they were conservative. Then, against Dunbar, they put a kid in there, number five, who isn’t even on the roster. They spread it out with him.”

Leasor thinks that the quarterback will be Taylor Harper, a senior who played wide receiver against the Cougars last season.

To battle the unknown of what East Jessamine will do, Leasor and defensive coordinator Lewis Clark have simplified the defense for this week. The Cougars will go with no huddle and will look to the sideline for a base formation. Then, the linebackers will make calls based on the foes’ alignment.

“Everybody is going to spread offenses,” Leasor noted. “That spreads you out and makes it difficult. You need 11 guys.

“We still have the big linemen,” the coach added. “Our guys won’t let them run inside. So, we have our athletes on the perimeter.”

The best running back for the Jaguars is senior Blake Hinkle. The other running back is junior Jared Caudill.

“They are better on defense, than on offense,” Leasor pointed out.

“The game is very winnable if we play our game,” the veteran coach added. “We want to be 4-2 going into that first district game. Those first two games we’re treating as scrimmages. Playing those good teams is paying off for us now.”