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PREP FOOTBALL: Central Hardin braces for unbeaten Bullitt East (09/20)

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By Ryan O'Gara

In the days leading up to some games, coaches scramble to devise the perfect scheme to defend the opposing offense.

For the Central Hardin Bruins, this is not one of those weeks. They know exactly what they are getting when they host the Bullitt East Chargers at 7:30 tonight in a battle of undefeated squads.

The Chargers (4-0) have racked up 1,377 rushing yards using the split-back veer and haven’t attempted a pass their last two games.

“It’s going to come down to old-school, physical football where you have to whip the guy across from you,” said Central Hardin coach Mark Perry. “This is a one-on-one battle every snap with us against them and I hope our guys come out ready for that. Our kids know that’s the brand they play, so I hope we rise to the challenge (tonight).”

Bullitt East has three rushers in junior Austin Colvin (509 rushing yards, six touchdowns), senior Brandon Samuels (342 yards, four touchdowns) and junior quarterback Pierce Kelly (316 yards, seven touchdowns).

It’ll be the Bruins’ defensive line’s job to occupy the Chargers’ offensive linemen and free up the linebacking core of seniors Ryan Kelly and Trey Jaco and sophomores Dalton Parr and Seth Bryan to make plays.

“We’re probably not going to make a lot of stats, but we’re not really expecting that,” said Central Hardin junior defensive lineman Dakota Coogle. “We just want to do our job and hope our defense stops the run. That’s all we’re looking for.”

The Bruins (4-0) have beaten the Chargers the last two seasons, including last year’s 35-31 win when junior quarterback Koree Krupinski hit T.J. Gordon for a 68-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left.

But just two plays before that, Bullitt East struck for a 41-yard passing touchdown to a tight end. So even though the Chargers don’t pass often, the Bruins know they have to stay ready.

“It’s about reading keys and knowing they are completely capable of making a big play,” said Central Hardin senior safety Bart Herrin. “That’s OK, because we know our offense is going to do well. We can’t get down on ourselves.”

Central Hardin, which is averages an area-best 46.3 points per game, knows it will get plenty of pressure from Bullitt East’s defense. Senior linebacker Evan Kerr already has 47 tackles for the Chargers.

It’ll be up to Krupinski, who has thrown for 581 yards and eight touchdowns this season, to make good decisions. Krupinski has plenty of playmakers in junior wideouts Zach Helton and Stephen Lindsey – who each caught touchdowns last week – and sophomore running back Xavier Arnette (318 yards, 10 touchdowns), but the key for the Bruins is playing a cleaner game. They nearly cut their penalties in half from Week 3 to Week 4 and after fumbling 11 times in the first three games, they only had one fumble last week.

Limiting those mistakes will be crucial against Bullitt East, which can grind out drives and prevent Central Hardin’s offense from redeeming itself like it has in past weeks.

“We’re ready to take that step and play an efficient offense,” Perry said. “This would be a great week to do that with what we’re about to see.”

Central Hardin will be without senior wide receiver Kenneth Browning, who is expected to miss four weeks after breaking a finger in the win over Mercer County last week. Sophomore Justin Rouse will have an even greater role this week and Herrin will also see snaps on both sides of the ball.

The Bruins’ blueprint is simple: stop the run and get their explosive offense on the field as much as possible.

“We’re ready for anything,” Coogle said. “On defense, some teams have made some big plays (against us). We bend, but we don’t break. We’re just ready to come out and give 110 percent because we know as soon as we get them off the field, our offense can go score.”

Ryan O’Gara can be reached at 270-505-1754 or rogara@thenewsenterprise.com.