North faces ultimate challenge

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Class 5-A, Region 2 Football

By Mike Farner

  HEBRON ESTATES - North Bullitt has played some of its best football of the season over the last two games - beating Trigg County and Fairdale while scoring 68 points.

The Eagles will have to play better than that this week as they take a major step up in competition when they travel to Radcliff to take on state-power John Hardin.

The Bulldogs are one of only ten undefeated teams left in Kentucky this season. In fact, the John Hardin seniors have never lost a regular season game while at the school, having gone 40-0 over the past four seasons. Coach Mark Brown’s team has not lost a regular season game since late in the 2008 season to Doss.

To go a step further, John Hardin has started each of the past three seasons at-least 13-0.

North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton is familiar with the Bulldogs’ history even if the two programs have never met before. He has seen them on tape in best seasons preparing for other teams and he has certainly seen a lot of them this season on film.

“They are good at all positions and play very few kids both ways,” Newton said on Monday. “They are sound in what they do and well coached and athletic.”

John Hardin is a level of team that North Bullitt has seldom seen.

“It is easy to say they are the best team we have played since Lone Oak,” Newton said of a team that the Eagles faced in the 2007 regional final.

For three weeks in the middle of the season, the Eagles were in a terrible funk, losing lopsided games to both Nelson County and Shelby County. Things then turned around over the last two weeks of the regular season.

“We played pretty well the last two weeks. We did some things we hoped to do earlier,” Newton said. “The competition level will not be like the last two weeks though. It will take more to be competitive.”

John Hardin has been pretty much unstoppable this season. The Bulldogs have outscored their ten opponents 429-121. The team has scored at least 28 points in every game and the closest anyone has come to beating them was in the season opener when Henry Clay played them to within 44-27.

The base offense for Brown’s team is the Wing-T. The quarterback is junior Patrick Anderson. He doesn’t throw the ball a lot, but he has completed roughly 50 percent of his passes at just over 100 yards a game. His favorite receiver is Dorian Collins, a speedy senior.

On the ground, the Bulldogs are balanced and so no running back has big yardage. Still, the leading rusher for the team is Wade Holtsclaw who runs for about 80 yards a game. Six different rushers have carried the ball for over 100 yards this season for John Hardin.

Newton also pointed to tight end Marquis Kennedy as a strong player.

The one player that everyone notices for the Bulldogs is defensive lineman Matt Elam who stands 6-5 and weighs 340 pounds. He is being recruited by both Louisville and Kentucky. The Bulldogs also have a standout linebacker in senior Dominick Brown.

Newton did say on Monday that the Eagles’ injury outlook is good. The team got Brandon Cundiff back for last week’s game. Both Travis Downing and Mitchell Allen are both still nursing injuries and will not practice much this week, but he expects both to play on Friday.

In today’s modern world, there is no way for Newton to hide the fact from his team about how good John Hardin is.

“We looked at film on them today,” the coach said. “There is no hiding the fact that they have been successful the last three or four years.

“If we do, what we do best, we can move the ball,” the veteran coach added. “They take advantage of mistakes so we can’t turn the ball over. We want to pick up first downs and move the ball.

“Our line has performed better the last two weeks,” Newton noted. “If we can open holes, we have backs to get in the hole.”

Game time at John Hardin on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.