HEBRON ESTATES - The message was simple following Friday night’s season opener for the North Bullitt Eagles.
Continue to improve each game and, by year’s end, the Eagles will have a pretty good football team.
Playing against an athletic Doss Dragon team, North Bullitt fell 13-0.
While the young Eagle offense struggled with a new offensive scheme, the defense was solid, allowing just a single touchdown.
“The defense has played well in our scrimmages,” Eagle skipper Brett Newton said. “If the defense continues to play that well and continues to improve each game, they will be very, very solid.”
The first half was a rough one for both teams.
The Eagles recovered their own fumble on the opening kickoff but couldn’t move the ball. However, Doss couldn’t handle the Dalton Hadley punt and Duke Tomlinson recovered the ball for the Eagles.
The offense stalled and the visitors appeared poised to hit the scoreboard.
After a trio of first downs, Tomlinson again recovered a fumble. Unfortunately, on the next play, Hadley’s lateral to Zack Reynolds was recovered by Doss.
The turnover parade continued as Hadley’s deep throw was intercepted at the 22 and it was returned 78 yards for the touchdown with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles would go on their best offensive march of the night on their next possession.
After Todd Asbury recovered his second kickoff fumble, North Bullitt started at its own 38.
Hadley hit his first pass of the night, a nine-yard screen to Asbury. Travis Ridley moved under center and kept the ball for a 29-yard gain.
After Reynolds got the ball to the Dragon 9, the wheels fell off. Two incomplete passes and two penalties stalled the drive at the 15.
In the second quarter, North Bullitt would run only four plays from scrimmage.
After the defense held following a 13-play drive, a fumbled exchange gave the visitors the ball at the Eagle 1.
However, two runs into the middle of the line netted nothing and a bad snap resulted in a 15-yard loss. Corey Cade’s 27-yard field goal attempt was wide.
Down only 6-0 at halftime, Newton said he felt very fortunate.
“We were still in the game,” said Newton. “The defense played great.”
Reynolds and Ridley had consecutive good runs but a fumble gave the ball back to Doss.
The lone touchdown from the offense came with 3:45 left in the third quarter. Tyrone Mack broke free on an option pitch for a 60-yard gain to the 11. From the 9, Mack carried the ball into the end zone and Cade kicked the extra point.
The closest North Bullitt came to scoring followed Ridley’s interception and 42-yard return to the Dragon 8. However, a penalty stalled the drive at the 9.
On the defensive side of the ball, Newton said he couldn’t ask for much more.
The game plan was to not chase quarterback Donte Arnel and to attempt to contain a powerful running duo of Donald Bethel and Mack.
He was pleased with Duke Tomlinson attacking from his linebacker spot and the defensive backs, especially the emergence of Issac McClean.
On the other side of the ball, it will be a work in progress.
Newton felt Hadley was very nervous but began to settle down. He said the receivers also have to do a better job of running routes and getting to the ball.
“As long as we improve each game, we’ll be OK,” said Newton, whose team won’t play its three district foes until late in the season.
Unofficially, Reynolds led the Eagles with 69 yards on 11 carries, while Ridley had 51 yards on eight carries. Asbury had 31 yards on two carries.
Hadley hit just six of his 30 passes for 54 yards. He had four picked off.
But with the offense being implemented, Newton said he knows there will be turnovers. However, he said the goal would be to get better each night.
Next game: The Eagles will again entertain the Dragons on Friday as South Oldham invades with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. It is Youth Night as football, cheerleaders and dance team members of Overdale, Maryville and Brooks will be honored.