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Poor finish can’t take away BC’s big 8-2 regular season

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2009 Football Season Review

By Mike Farner

SHEPHERDSVILLE - The 2009 Bullitt Central football season will pretty much be remembered for two things - a spectacular regular season and a horrible post-season.

The two pretty much go hand-in-hand. Both points leave fans, coaches and players shaking their heads in both amazement and disappointment.

By Wednesday of last week veteran head coach Danny Leasor had already taken up the equipment from his players just five days after the embarrassing 63-13 loss to Jeffersontown in the first-round of the Class 5-A play-offs. Bullitt Central had the number two seed for that game and were playing at home for the first time in the play-offs in 30 years.

“That game still sits in my throat,” Leasor said as he worked on a work-out schedule for 2010. “There is not a day goes by that I don’t think about it or someone mentions it. They ask what happened and I tell them I don’t know.”

In retrospect, Leasor recalls looking into his players’ eyes that night and seeing doubt when Jeffersontown jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter.

“When I looked in their eyes I knew it wasn’t there,” the coach said. “As a coach for 41 years you know.

“I’m responsible,” Leasor added. “As the head coach you have to find a way. It happens to the best of teams.”

If Leasor takes responsibility for the big loss, then he also needs to be thanked for turning Bullitt Central into a respectable football program again. For the first time in over 40 years the Cougars have recorded back-to-back 8-2 regular season marks. That is more victories than the program had in the six years before he signed on for his second stint as the head coach.

The Cougars have also won the past two Bullitt Cup titles. After going 0-2 the first year against the Cougars county rivals, Bullitt Central has won two straight from both Bullitt East and North Bullitt.

The job that Leasor took on three years ago was to mold a promising freshman group into a winning team. Those 20 seniors now have been the backbone of the resurgence of the program.

“We’ll miss these kids,” Leasor said. “They brought stability to a program and they left their mark. They were here in the dark ages and over the last two years they have been 16-6. They will be missed tremendously. You just don’t replace a class like that, that easily.”

When Leasor was approached by Bullitt Central athletic director Mark Rogers about coming out of retirement three years ago, the coach did some investigating and found out that the freshman group at that time had some talent.

“They had a tremendous freshman year before I got here,” Leasor recalled. “I called Lewis Clark (a long-time BC assistant coach) and he said there were some good young kids here. That gave me a boost of confidence.”

Leasor believes that as many as eight of the 20 seniors could be playing college football next season. That group is obviously led by running back/safety Jeremaie Bennett who has rushed for 2,840 yards over the past two seasons. Leasor called out four other names (Andrew Casey, Shane Williamson, T.J. Flener and Cody P’Pool) of players who could play at a Division II or III school as well as three others (Corey Brown, Andrew Dodd and Terry Coulter) who could fit into an NAIA type program.

Now, Leasor’s job takes a slight turn. The job at this point is to make the Cougars a consistently strong program.

“Our program is solid on every level,” the coach pointed out. “Now we can put a quality team out there every day. We’re competitive in the county. I like where we are at.

“It’s an exciting time to be the head coach at Bullitt Central,” Leasor said. “I like the atmosphere and the smell and the excitement here. I’m excited about next year.”

Leasor is making it clear now that he will be the coach in 2010. He thinks that most of his coaching staff will also return.

But that is not to say that the Cougars will expect another 8-2 season. Competitive yes, but there are a lot of holes to fill. Nine starters on offense will graduate as well as seven on defense.

The only returning starters on offense are quarterback Damion Wibbels and lineman Gus Thompson.

Bullitt Central’s junior-varsity program posted a 6-3 record and with almost 80 kids in the entire program, very few of the Friday night players were taking the field in the JV contests.

The Cougar freshman team looked strong early, but season-ending injuries to that team’s quarterback and top running back left the squad a little short-handed. That led to a 4-4 record, but it was a good learning experience.

“I’ve heard all the stuff about us not being very good next year and how I won’t be coming back,” Leasor said. “We’re going to be a different football team. We’re not rebuilding or reloading. We’ll do some different things. It’s exciting to be where we are. We have a firm foundation to build on.”

On a more immediate note, Leasor did say that the Bullitt Central coaching staff will coach the West team in the Jefferson County Coaches’ Association East-West All-Start game on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. Leasor had already planned a vacation starting two days earlier so he will organize the team before turning it over to associate head coach Mike Gossett.

Bullitt Central will then conduct a full spring practice starting the first Monday after the Bullitt Central basketball team is eliminated from the post-season. Leasor also said that weight-lifting will start back on Jan. 15 and that group will compete in two meets including the State Powerlifting Meet.

Next year’s schedule is already set. It will include the same teams as this past year with just the game locations being switched.