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The Central Hardin Bruins accomplished something they hadn’t done in nearly five years and it was something defensive coordinator Jesse Simpson had never achieved.
The Bruins shut out the Grayson County Cougars, 45-0 on Friday night in the Swope Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram Bowl at Central Hardin.
Central Hardin had gone 56 consecutive games without a shutout. The last time the Bruins recorded a shutout was Aug. 29, 2008, in the same bowl when they blanked Lloyd Memorial, 24-0.
“This means a lot because it’s Coach Simpson’s first shutout,” Central Hardin senior defensive end Josh Krupinski said. “It means a lot to not give up any points. We came out hitting. We were ready to go and went right at them.”
The Bruins completely overwhelmed an undermanned Grayson County squad. They limited the Cougars to 121 yards of total offense. In the first half, the Bruins forced four punts, stopped the Cougars on downs once and senior Ryan Kelly intercepted a pass.
The defense is much improved after giving up 30.3 points per game last season. Although they allowed 427 yards to North Hardin, the Bruins limited the Trojans to 22 points.
“This really means a lot after last week and all the yards we gave up,” Kelly said. “We had a young defense last year. We have stepped up and prepared for this. We have the experience. Our whole defense played really well.”
With the defense shutting down the Cougars, the Central Hardin offense did the rest, scoring on its first four possessions and six of its first seven.
The Bruins did whatever they wanted offensively. They had a balanced attack with 194 yards coming on the ground and 278 via the air. Junior Zach Helton scored on three of the five times he touched the ball and sophomore Xavier Arnette added two touchdowns.
“We were definitely clicking,” said Helton, who caught four passes for 122 yards and also had an 11-yard run. “We want to get that high, fast pace. We want to play that way on both sides. We wanted to tire them out.”
Junior quarterback Koree Krupinski, who was a perfect 7-for-7 for 150 yards and three touchdowns, praised the offensive line of center Trent Baker, guards Clarence Lewis and Dan Trethaway and tackles Jacob Hunt and Clint Walker.
“We have to give all the credit to the offensive line,” Krupinski said. “I had all kinds of time to throw the ball and I never had anyone in my face. On running plays, we had running lanes we could run through for days. We played good and it was because of our offensive line.”
The Bruins started fast, needing only 14 plays in the first quarter to build a 26-0 lead. Krupinski connected with Helton on a 12-yard scoring strike, and then after Grayson County turned the ball over on downs, Arnette broke loose for a 34-yard touchdown.
On Central Hardin’s third possession, back-up sophomore quarterback Justin Rouse hit Helton on a screen pass and he turned it into a 65-yard touchdown. Rouse was on the other receiving end the next time the Bruins scored as Krupinski hit him for a 17-yard touchdown.
“I’m pretty pleased with how we played offensively,” Central Hardin coach Mark Perry said. “Our line played well. Our quarterbacks threw the ball well and we made some nice throws downfield. We did a good job of running the ball. We made plays. I thought it was a good all-around performance.”
Although Perry pointed out how well the offense played, he was beaming with pride about the performance turned in by Simpson’s defense.
“Hats off to the defense,” Perry said. “We lost to them the previous year, so to get a shutout, that’s a big step. I thought we tackled well, we were aggressive and we got a good push up front. The thing I’m most pleased with is our defense played.”
The lead swelled to 39-0 in the second quarter after Krupinski hit Helton in stride for a 48-yard touchdown, and after a fumbled punt, Arnette scored on a 3-yard run.
The Bruins added another score in the fourth quarter when sophomore Michael Howlett caught a screen pass from freshman quarterback Reece Iler and raced 30 yards for touchdown.
UP NEXT: Central Hardin plays at Madisonville-North Hopins at 8 p.m. Friday.
Chuck Jonescan be reached at 270-505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grayson County 0 0 0 0— 0
Central Hardin 26 13 0 6—45
CH: Zack Helton 12-yard pass from Koree Krupinski (kick failed), 10:55
CH: Xavier Arnette 34-yard run (Ray Jeffries kick), 7:19
CH: Helton 65-yard pass from Justin Rouse (kick failed), 3:55
CH: Rouse 17-yard pass from Krupinski (Jeffries kick), :36.4
CH: Helton 48-yard pass from Krupinski (Jeffries kick), 8:11
CH: Arnette 3-yard run (kick failed), 6:16
CH: Michael Howlett 30-yard pass from Reece Iler (kick failed), 5:20
Yards Rush 96 194
Yards Pass 25 278
Total Yards 121 472
Passing 7-10-1 12-16-0
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 2/0
Penalties/Yds 1/5 4/37
Rushing: GRAYSON COUNTY — Thomas Walton 16-68, Trey Waltermire 5-36, Talon Gary 5-15, Dillon Woodcock 1-5, No. 22 2-1, Dakota Payton 9-(-4), Team 1-(-24). CENTRAL HARDIN — Xavier Arnette 5-51, Reece Iler 5-44, Koree Krupinski 3-25, Noah Douglas 2-22, Justin Rouse 4-22, Darius Barber 2-19, Zach Helton 1-11, Trey Jaco 1-1, Chase Hicks 1-0, Chris Nichols 1-(-1).
Passing: GRAYSON COUNTY — Trey Waltermire 7-10-1, 25 yards. CENTRAL HARDIN — Koree Krupinski 7-7-0, 150 yards; Justin Rouse 3-6-0, 93 yards; Reece Iler 2-3-0, 35 yards.
Receiving: GRAYSON COUNTY — Talon Gary 4-7, No. 14 1-16, Dillon Woodcock 1-4, Dakota Payton 1-(-2). CENTRAL HARDIN — Zach Helton 4-122, Stephen Lindsey 2-53, Michael Howlett 1-30, Kenneth Browing 1-19, Chase Hicks 1-18, Justin Rouse 1-17, Bart Herrin 1-14, Darius Barber 1-5.