- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The John Hardin Bulldogs realize Friday will be the biggest night in the history of the program. They’ve had this date circled for almost 365 days after last year’s embarrassing 62-20 loss to Bowling Green in the Class 5-A semifinals.
And the Bulldogs get a rematch against the program which ended their run last season and the same one many predicted to win another state championship this year. Bowling Green rolls into Bulldog Stadium with an unblemished 13-0 mark and the Purples have been crushing opponents, winning all but one game by 14 or more points.
“They’re really good,” John Hardin senior Garrett Ray said. “This game means everything. I’ve been trying to tell people how big it is. Some aren’t football fans, so they don’t understand. All you have to say is it’s Bowling Green.”
The Bulldogs understand the challenge they face. Bowling Green has won 28 consecutive games, not losing since a 14-10 defeat to Christian County in the 2010 playoffs. The Purples don’t have many – if any – weaknesses, according to John Hardin’s coaches.
“They are probably the second or third best team in the state,” John Hardin coach Mark Brown said. “Trinity is No. 1 and then it’s them or Highlands. They’re probably No. 2.”
Last season against Bowling Green, John Hardin turned the ball over five times, including four in the first half. The Purples, who held the Bulldogs to 232 yards in last year’s game, returned two fumbles for touchdowns and quickly built a 34-0 lead.
The Bulldogs recognize it will take a near-perfect game to have a chance against Bowling Green. They could use something positive early in the game to gain some confidence.
“We need to make a play, a big play in the first quarter,” John Hardin senior linebacker Domonick Brown said. “We need to start fast and get some momentum. We need to keep it rolling. They forced turnovers last year in the first quarter and look what happened.”
That’s something the Bulldogs have forgotten. It’s a painful memory of a lost opportunity. This is another chance to prove they’re one of the state’s elite programs.
“We’ve heard everyone talking about how bad Bowling Green beat us and they’re going to do it again,” John Hardin senior Dorian Collins said. “We want a chance to redeem ourselves. We’re trying to learn from last year’s loss. This game is huge, probably bigger than the state championship (in 2009).”
John Hardin (13-0) has reached the state semifinals for a fifth consecutive season, but its only victory came in 2009 when the Bulldogs won at Bowling Green, 28-21. For the seniors, this is their final time to get the program over the hump and bring home the coveted state title.
“This is definitely a big week, especially after what happened last year,” John Hardin senior Wade Holtsclaw said. “This is a big game for all the seniors. We all were a part of last year’s loss. We know what we have to do to overcome it.”
The Bulldogs aren’t looking back at last season, but they prefer to live in the present. Nothing but heartache comes from reliving last year’s loss and they grasp what happened last year won’t have much bearing on this year’s game.
“We try to put last year behind us,” John Hardin junior Patrick Anderson said. “This is a new year and a new team. We’re focused on this year. We’re trying to get to the state championship and they are, too. It’s going to come down to who makes the most plays in this game.”
Chuck Jones can be reached at (270) 505-1759 or email@example.com.