Cougars and Eagles to battle for 43rd time

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By Mike Farner

 HEBRON ESTATES – Long referred to as The Game, Bullitt Central will travel to North Bullitt on Friday for the 43rd meeting of the longest running rivalry in the county.

For the foreseeable future, this will be the last meeting between the two programs that will have district ramifications. While both teams will continue in Class 5-A starting next season, the two will be in separate districts. The two teams will continue to play, but those meetings will come earlier in the season.

This season, the rivalry will have bearing on the Bullitt Cup and district races as well as the always-present bragging rights. The third aspect means that the records can be thrown out as emotion and desire come to the forefront.

Bullitt Central beat the Eagles last season 17-14 on a touchdown run by Daylin Huff with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately, Huff will be watching this game from the sidelines after suffering a broken leg three weeks ago in the Cougars’ win over Southern.

The Cougars were 3-0 after that home win against the Trojans, but then after a week off, played poorly last Friday against North Oldham, particularly in the first half, and ended up losing 44-29. That outcome pretty much mirrors last season when the Cougars also moved into The Game after a 16-13 overtime loss to North Oldham that left them 3-1.

In last week’s performance, it was hard to tell if the Cougars were looking ahead (to North Bullitt) or behind (to Huff’s injury).

For North Bullitt, what a difference a year of maturity makes. The green and gold were 1-4 a year ago at this point and would end up 2-8 and failed to make the play-offs. This season, the Eagles are 3-2 and despite a 42-21 loss last week to North Hardin, the team and fans are feeling much better about the prospects for the second half of the season.

The biggest difference at this point between the two squads is that North Bullitt is much deeper. In fact, Eagle head coach Adam Billings is hoping to use 22 different players to start on offense and defense and even if that goal is a little short, the Eagles will still start 18 or 19 different players.

For Bullitt Central, head coach Matt Kuehn will more likely only have 13 or 14 different players to start and, if expected warmer temperatures continue late into the week, it could be a boost for the Eagles.

Without Huff, Bullitt Central will rely more on senior quarterback Jacob Robertson who did score three touchdowns last week against North Oldham. Robertson will also start on the other side of the ball at defensive end. Huff had moved to running back this season after being the quarterback against North Bullitt a year ago. Now, the running duties will fall to junior Warren Coogle and sophomore Kylor Close.

Following the loss to North Oldham, Kuehn said the defense suffered more with the loss of Huff than the offense.

For North Bullitt, senior quarterback Conner Abnee, the son of former Bullitt Central head coach and present North Bullitt assistant coach Justin Abnee, will run the show once more. He has plenty of offensive weapons as the Eagles have become much more balanced this season. Senior running back Dylan Embry as well as sophomores Cole Durbin and Drew Hadley make the green and gold threats to make big plays on every snap.

Bullitt Central’s win last year gave the Cougars a 24-18 advantage in the series. The maroon and gray have also now won six of the last ten meetings.

In each of the last three meetings the two teams have played within a touchdown of each other.