Manual is big hurdle for BE

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By Mike Farner

MOUNT WASHINGTON - In a season filled with tough opponents, the Bullitt East Chargers will face another this week when Class 6-A powerhouse Manual pays a visit to the Chargers’ Den.

Of the eight teams that Bullitt East has played this season, only Butler has failed to win at least three games. In fact, only Butler and LaRue County have losing records.

The toughest of a tough schedule could be this week’s foe. Manual is 6-2 with the Crimsons’ two losses coming to St. Xavier and Ballard. The only common foe for the two squads is Butler, a team that Bullitt East beat 48-13 to open the season while Manual beat the Bears 41-20 just last week.

The other Manual victories have come over Central, Seneca, Ballard, Shelby County and Pleasure Ridge Park.

Actually, Manual has played Ballard twice this season. That came about because of the windstorm in Jefferson County five weeks ago. The two teams were looking for a game and could only find each other on their common ‘open’ dates at the time. Manual beat Ballard 36-26 in the first meeting, but then lost to them 30-14 two weeks ago.

The good news for the Chargers on Monday was that head coach Doug Preston was saying that junior quarterback Matt Bowles should be able to play this week against Manual. Bowles was knocked out of last week’s game against LaRue County with a shoulder injury.

“Right now, I think he will play,” the coach said on Monday. “We’ll rest him most of the week and not have him do too much and then we hope he can play on Friday.”

For the first time in probably forever, Bullitt East did not complete a pass in the game against LaRue County (there was a pass completion for a two-point conversion, but no pass completions on plays from scrimmage).

Junior Jonathan Bernard stepped in at quarterback and did a good job running the offense, but he wasn’t asked to put the ball in the air. Bernard will get more snaps at quarterback in practice this week with the varsity. He had been the starting signalcaller for the junior-varsity and was getting playing team on both sides of the ball with the varsity, just not at quarterback.

Last season, when Manual beat Bullitt East 42-31 in Louisville, the Crimsons had a number of standout athletes who signed to play at Division I schools this season, including the University of Kentucky.

This time around, Preston sees a squad with great balance and not the stand-out players.

“They are a team,” the coach said. “They do everything well as a team. They have a really sound running back and I was impressed with their linebacking corp.”

The offense for the Crimsons under veteran head coach Joe Nichols is a Wing-T. The quarterback is senior Joey Harness and the top running threats are senior D.J. Hawk and senior James Clay.

Manual will also put the ball in the air quite a bit. The top reeiver is junior Derek Woodmore. Harness also likes to throw to tight end Cole Mosser as well as Clay.

“They tend to run it more,” Preston said. “They will mix it up. They try to keep you off balance with the play calling.”

Up front, the Crimsons have good size, but Preston was saying that the front kids are as tall as they are big.

“They have good size up front,” the coach pointed out “They are not just heavy, but tall. The defensive line is like 6-3 and 6-4. The linebackers are 6-1 and 6-3. They have good looking kids.”

There are some who may think that Bullitt East is overscheduled this season. Of course, Preston had nothing to do with that.

“The teams we are playing are very good,” Preston pointed out. “We have a chance to play with them and win the district and still have a winning season.

“The kids’ confidence is good,” Preston added. “I didn’t put the schedule together so I can’t say that much. But, our confidence is fine and we’re in good shape.”

Game time in Mount Washington is set for 7:30 p.m. on Halloween night.