Time for Eagles to build play-off momentum

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By Mike Farner

HEBRON ESTATES - The name of the game will be momentum on Friday when the North Bullitt Eagles travel to Crestwood to close out the regular season with a game against the South Oldham Dragons.

This is the last game before the Eagles play host to some play-off team next Friday in the first round of the Class 4-A play-offs. So, with losses in four of their last five games, the Eagles will be looking to regain some lost swagger.

In South Oldham, North Bullitt will face a team that has struggled all season. In fact, the Dragons are 0-9 and are one of the few teams in Class 5-A that will not be in the play-offs, so this is the last game of the season for the Dragons. That means they could do just about anything.

South Oldham and North Bullitt have two common opponent this season. Both teams lost to Jeffersontown in the first half of the season. The Dragons fell 37-20 to the Chargers two weeks before North Bullitt lost to that team 34-28. The big difference is that North Bullitt beat Shelby County 27-14 while South Oldham lost to the Rockets 62-7 last week.

South Oldham has also lost to Eastern, Holy Cross, Oldham County, Grant County, North Oldham, Anderson County and Nelson County. The Dragons have been outscored 402-145 in those nine games. South Oldham has failed to keep anyone from scoring at least 28 points this season.

Coach Clay Holbrook’s team has struggled the past few seasons. South Oldham was 3-8 last fall and lost the last six games of the year including a 27-9 loss to North Bullitt to end the season. That means they have lost 15 straight games, one of the longest losing streaks in the state.

“They are doing what they did last year,” North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton said on Monday. “They are lining up in the shot gun and wanting to throw it. They aren’t finishing very well.

“We had a good game with them last year,” Newton said. “There was a little controversy last year so I’m sure they will be fired up for this one.”

Newton felt that his team played well last week against a talented Doss squad but had just a few too many breakdowns in the secondary. That will be a point of emphasis this week.

“We want to build momentum and stay healthy and iron out a few things and get ready for the play-offs,” the veteran Eagle coach said.

In many of the losses, the Eagles have fallen behind and then had to get out of what they like to do to try and play catch-up. Newton would like to see his defense keep teams close early and that will allow the offense to do what it does best.

“We are worn out playing catch up,” Newton pointed out. “We have to play defense and stay close and if we don’t, then we’re going to struggle.”

Pretty much everything for the Dragons starts and ends with senior Brandon Kollenberg. Through the first six games of the season, he was the team’s leading rusher as well as the top receiver and the top scorer. He was also listed as the team’s top passer after playing just one game at the position. In his main role, running the ball, he has already surpassed the 1,000-yard mark this season.

The South Oldham defense is a 3-5-3 alignment, but the two outside linebackers often move up and look like defense ends in a 5-3 set.

Just like everybody else is doing against the Eagles, Newton expects to see a lot of South Oldham players crowding the line of scrimmage to stop the run.

“They will put a lot in the box and rush a lot,” Newton said. “That is what we’ve seen a lot the last few weeks.”

The injury report is still good for the Eagles. There are a number of players with bumps and bruises, including Jordan Mayberry and Dalton Cissell, but that is what happens by the tenth week of a football season.

“They are still confident,” Newton said of his team as they stand at 5-4 overall. “Except for falling asleep in the secondary on Friday, we played one of our better defensive games in a while against a team with a lot of talented offensive players. We played a good second half with Doss a week after they had beaten John Hardin.”

Game time on Friday at South Oldham is set for 7:30 p.m.