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It’s been one crazy season for the Central Hardin Bruins.
They’ve pulled out a miraculous win in the closing minute over Bullitt East, knocked off North Hardin even though they gave up 519 yards and defeated Louisville Western last week despite four interceptions.
Achievements keep piling up as the Bruins keep finding ways to win. Here comes a chance for another, as Central Hardin (4-3) aims for its first district title since 1997 when it hosts Meade County (3-4) at 7:30 Friday night in a Class 6-A, District 2 battle. It’s the only two-team district in the state and the winner takes all.
“This game is extremely important to all of us,” said junior linebacker Ryan Kelly. “We’d like to have a district title this year. It’d be good.”
Sophomore Zach Helton acknowledged the energy level is up. This could be a major accomplishment, especially because the Bruins had to replace their entire defensive line, more than half their offensive line and starting quarterback, two running backs and leading wide receiver this year.
“Right now, it means a lot considering we’re such a young team. They’re (the Green Wave) not bad at all. They’re really good. They’re talented. We just have to play a whole lot harder than we did against some other teams that we’ve played this year,” Helton said. “We can make history right here.”
Unfortunately for the Bruins, defending district champ Meade County is coming off its best offensive performance of the year. The Green Wave got their running game on track, rushing for season highs of 448 yards and six touchdowns in a 43-7 victory over Nelson County last Friday.
Senior John Clark totaled 153 yards on 11 carries, a 13.9 yards-per-carry average, and scored three touchdowns. Sophomore Jonah Shacklette had 113 yards on 16 attempts and senior quarterback Jake Wilson rushed six times for 76 yards and two scores. The Green Wave moved up two spots to second in the seven-team area in rushing yards per game (187.0).
Meade County pounded Central Hardin with its rushing attack last year, running for seven touchdowns and 336 yards in a 58-14 home win. Leading 13-7 after the first quarter, the Green Wave reeled off 32 straight points over the next period and a half. They passed and ran for two more during that stretch. Wilson went 9-of-12 for 149 yards and two scores, both going for 20 yards or more.
Second-year Central Hardin coach Mark Perry remembers how the Green Wave’s Wing-T offense gave them all kinds of trouble.
“We’ve got to be able to handle in between the tackle box and we’ve got to handle on the edges,” he said. “We’ve got to have assignment, good solid team defense because they can hurt you with the passing game also.”
Meade County’s defense has been just as stout, ranking second in the area in points allowed (15.1), total yards allowed (275.4) and rushing yards allowed (152.0) per game.
Central Hardin hopes to avoid the turnover trouble it had last week, as sophomore quarterback Koree Krupinski went 13-of-22 for 147 yards and a touchdown but threw four interceptions.
Thankfully, the Bruins’ defense held the Warriors to zero points off those turnovers – forcing them into three punts and a turnover on downs. Central Hardin forced one turnover and gave up only 190 yards of total offense.
“I thought we tackled much better,” Perry said. “We’ve got to bring that same mentality and same style of play this Friday night against a very, very good opponent.”
Helton thinks the Bruins also need to get their running game going against the Green Wave. That helped them early against Western. Sophomore running back Christian Sylvester scored two first-quarter touchdowns against the Warriors, while Helton threw a 62-yard scoring pass to senior wide receiver Trevor Brown to give the Bruins a 20-0 halftime lead.
“With Meade County, they play eight deep,” Helton said. “We can’t really pass over them so we’re just going to have to run the ball a whole lot harder.”
John Groth can be reached at (270) 505-1754 or email@example.com.