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PREP FOOTBALL: John Hardin aware of dangerous Jeffersontown (10/05)

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By Chuck Jones

The Jeffersontown Chargers don’t have DeMichael Jackson this season, but John Hardin coach Mark Brown said that doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous.

The Chargers (4-2) have scored 28 or more points in five games this season. Although Jackson, the focal point of last year’s offense, has moved on, Jeffersontown has plenty of weapons left.

Junior Richard Deloney has rushed for 622 yards and five touchdowns on 74 attempts, while senior Charvez Strickland has added 498 yards and six touchdowns on 51 carries.

Junior Kendrick Gardner, who replaced Jackson at quarterback, has passed for 854 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s been intercepted six times in 89 attempts. Gardner has also rushed for 161 yards and four scores. Senior Mikal Howard has 21 catches for 316 yards and four touchdowns, while senior Jawayne Rose has 11 receptions for 247 yards and two scores.

“In many ways, they are the same,” Brown said. “They don’t have anyone that is a DeMichael, but he was a special player. He always was going to have the ball in his hands. This year, they are more diversified. They spread the ball around more.

“Their quarterback is very mobile and he throws the ball well,” he added. “No. 2 (Deloney) can run especially for his size and so can No. 1 (Strickland). Offensively, they have a lot of team speed.”

The Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back shutouts. They are allowing 13.0 points and 208.3 yards a game. Senior linebacker Domonick Brown said the defense continues to show improvements.

“I honestly think we are getting better each week,” Domonick Brown said. “Chris (Smith) and I are playing much better. Matt (Elam) and the defensive line does a great job and the secondary has improved. I think the sky’s the limit from here on out.”

Mark Brown said the defense must prevent Jeffersontown from making the big play. The Chargers had an 83-yard kickoff return, a 50-yard scoring run and a 47-yard touchdown pass against North Hardin.

“Defensively, we need to key well,” Mark Brown said. “We need to wrap up and tackle. We can’t give up yards after the catch. We did a much better job of tackling against Central Hardin. It was one of our more complete games of the year.”

Especially from an offensive perspective. John Hardin compiled 589 yards of total offense and scored on its first seven possessions. Mark Brown said the offense is starting to hit its stride.

“We have shown improvement,” he said. “Our quarterback (Patrick Anderson) started out the year without any experience and he’s gotten better and better with each game. We’re getting more depth at the running back position. Our offensive line has played together for six games now and they have improved. All of that goes into it.”

Senior fullback Garrett Ray said the growth of the offensive line has made a huge difference.

“We spent a lot more time working on the little things, like blocking,” Ray said. “That’s what we needed to do. Our offensive line does a great job blocking. They’ve gotten better and the backs have gotten better. Everyone knows their assignments and they are doing their jobs.”

Mark Brown said the Bulldogs will be tested against the Chargers. Senior nose guard Raymond Brown is a wrecking ball in the middle and the Chargers will bring a lot of pressure to disrupt teams.

“They are very aggressive up front,” Mark Brown said. “Our offensive line is going to have to pick up stunts because they’re going to bring pressure. No. 51 (Brown) is strong and quick. He’ll cause some problems. We’ll need to do a good job of picking up their pressure.”

Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or cjones@thenewsenterprise.com