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On any Friday in the fall, football players have their routine. Wake up, go to school, eat after school and start prepping for that night’s game.
This Friday will be a little bit different for the Central Hardin Bruins when they host the Grayson County Cougars in the Swope Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Bowl.
That’s because they’ll play the second game of the evening, following John Hardin and Louisville DeSales. Originally slated to start at 6 p.m., Central Hardin officials made the decision to push the game back to 7:30 because of heat concerns, which means the Bruins won’t take the field until at least 10.
“It’s going to be a little tough, but I think we’ll be good,” said junior offensive lineman Trent Baker. “All of the lights will be on, and we should be pumped up and ready to go.”
Central Hardin coach Mark Perry cautioned his team to pace themselves throughout the day or else they’d be out of energy by game time. Perry acknowledged it’s not ideal, but he’d much rather be at home in this situation.
“It throws it off for both sides,” Perry said. “We’re probably the fortunate one because we’re at home. If the other game is running late, then we’re probably a little more comfortable than what Grayson is. You hope you handle that well and prepare the kids for what it’s going to be like, but shoot, you never know.”
When they finally do take the field, the Bruins (1-0) will be trying to avenge a 21-14 loss to Grayson County (1-0) in its season opener last year.
In that game, the Cougars ran wild, piling up 263 rushing yards. While Grayson County lost its top two backs in Dalton Logsdon and Dustin Crain, Central Hardin is looking for more of the same this time around.
“I expect them to be real hard-nosed, smash-mouth and running the ball,” said senior linebacker Trey Jaco. “They have a lot of size, big running backs. We have to gang-tackle and work together to stop them.
“I remember they were just big,” he added. “It was hard to get through the gaps and make tackles and make plays. We can’t expect anything less this year.”
Grayson County junior quarterback Talon Gary struggled a bit against the Bruins last season, completing 4-of-9 passes for 57 yards and an interception while also running for a 3-yard touchdown. Perry also singled out juniors Taylor Wright, Lane Rackley, Dylan Woodcock and Trey Waltermire who can also play quarterback.
The Bruins are hoping to build off a 51-22 win over North Hardin last week in which the offense accumulated 392 yards and the defense contributed eight sacks. Junior quarterback Koree Krupinski threw for 146 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 103 yards and another score.
On the Bruins’ third possession of the game, sophomore Justin Rouse took over at quarterback, which Perry said was by design because it gives defenses a different look while Rouse also gains experience. Rouse led Central Hardin on a seven-play, 49-yard drive that ended with one of sophomore running back Xavier Arnette’s three touchdowns.
Perry was impressed with the way Rouse stood in the pocket and took a hit from a defensive end while completing a 16-yard pass to senior Kenneth Browning on fourth-and-5.
“He’s a very capable kid,” Perry said. “We want to get him on the field in many situations, whether it be at receiver or quarterback. He’s a change of pace and a dynamic kid. It’s a good problem to have. We run our quarterback some, so you want two guys who are ready at any point in time to step in.”
If Central Hardin can win the special teams’ battle like it did against North Hardin thanks to junior Chase Hicks’ 68-yard kickoff return that led to a score and junior defensive back Trey Lawler’s forced fumble on a punt, the Bruins like their chances.
“We’re trying to stay focused on this game and not let the North Hardin game get in our heads,” Baker said. “Just stay focused and work to get better.”
Ryan O’Gara can be reached at 270-505-1754 or email@example.com.