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No team likes to lose, but sometimes a loss can be a good thing if the players respond the right way and use it as a way to improve.
That’s the approach the Central Hardin Bruins taking after their first loss of the season, a 34-11 setback to Meade County last Friday.
“It can be a good thing,” Central Hardin senior linebacker Ryan Kelly said. “We were getting a little too big-headed, so it brings our heads back to size. We came back and just started practicing hard. We want to try to get better and learn from it.”
Coach Mark Perry has been pleased with how his team has responded in wake of the defeat. Perry said there are small details which might have been masked by winning where the Bruins need to improve on to become a better team.
“They know where we’re at and where we’ve got to go,” Perry said. “We’ve practiced well this week. We got whipped last week. Now we have to get back up and we saw area where we need to get better.
“Offensively, we dropped a few balls and we need to do better in a few situations,” he added. “We have to sustain blocks and we need all 10 positions blocking. Defensively, we need to tackle better and shed blocks. We need to be more physical. We can’t have 10 to 12 plays where we’re misaligned or make mistakes, because that can decide the game. We just need to be better this Friday.”
The Bruins (7-1, 0-1 district) hope to bounce back at 7:30 tonight in a key Class 6-A, District 2 game as they host the Muhlenberg County Mustangs (5-3, 0-1).
There’s a lot at stake for both. The winner of this game gets the No. 2 seed and a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
“This is a very important game for us,” Central Hardin junior Zach Helton said. “We played so badly last week. We were in the red zone several times and didn’t score. We dropped some passes we usually catch. We really just want to get back on the field and put that loss behind us.”
The Mustangs, who are coached by former LaRue County standout Brandon Standiford, present a challenge to Central Hardin’s defense with their triple-option attack. They are averaging 23.3 points per game and have scored more than 30 points in four games.
“They run it very well,” Perry said. “They’ll give it to the fullback, the quarterback will run it and they’re not afraid to pitch it. You don’t see the option much, so it’s difficult to defend. You have to remember your rules to defend it. They try to find a matchup they like and they attack it. It’s a challenge.”
Central Hardin’s defense allowed the Green Wave to rush for a season-high 315 yards. The Bruins, who are giving up 20.3 points and 326.1 yards per game, understand they can’t have the same type of performance against the Mustangs.
“They run the ball very well,” Kelly said. “We need to swarm to the football and make tackles. We need to be in our right gaps. We need to be flying to the ball. We have to make plays.”
On the other side of the ball, the Bruins were held to season lows in points and yards (223) last week. They scored 28 or more points in each of their wins, but never got on track against Meade County.
“It was very frustrating,” Helton said. “You can’t make mistakes like that against a team like Meade County. They are a very good team. But we didn’t take advantage of our chances. We just have to do the basic fundamental things and take advantage when we have scoring chances. If we don’t, we’ll be in a dogfight.”
The Mustangs have limited opponents to 22.5 points per game, but Central Hardin has the area’s best offense, averaging 38.3 points and 377.4 yards per game. Junior Koree Krupinski has passed for 1,309 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 442 yards and five scores.
Krupinski’s favorite target is Helton, who has 38 receptions for 503 yards and eight scores. Junior Stephen Lindsey and sophomore Justin Rouse have combined for 42 catches, including four touchdowns. Sophomore Xavier Arnette has rushed for 572 yards and 14 touchdowns.
After a frustrating and disappointing loss, the Bruins want to return to action to move past what happened last week.
“Friday can’t come soon enough,” Perry said. “They are ready to get back out on the field. You’re remembered for your last game whether it was good or it was bad. Unfortunately, we played bad in our last game. They want to get back out there and play much better this week.”
Chuck Jonescan be reached at 270-505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.