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By CHUCK JONES firstname.lastname@example.org
RADCLIFF – Prior to the season, John Hardin coach Mark Brown talked about the program’s success and reaching two region championship games.
The Bulldogs are 0-2 in region championships, but Brown said if they continue to knock on the door it’s only a matter of time before they break through.
John Hardin has reached the region championship for the third time in the last four years as the Bulldogs play at Louisville Doss at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Class 5-A, Region 2 championship.
“The third time’s the charm, right?” John Hardin senior Caleb Mitchell said. “I remember watching from the sidelines as a freshman when they lost the heartbreaker to St. X. Last year, we had Bowling Green on the ropes and let them off.
“This is the last time for the seniors,” he added. “We definitely want to make the most of it. You talked about finishing and we want to finish.”
The Bulldogs (11-1) are riding a four-game winning streak after losing to Doss, 27-21 on Oct. 24. Although the loss to Doss still hurts, John Hardin isn’t concerned with revenge, but adding another chapter to the school’s eight-year history.
“This is our season,” John Hardin senior Elias Camper said. “We’re trying to become the first team to win a region championship. We’re working hard in practice and trying to get better. We know this is our season. Every game could be our last game.”
The Bulldogs were outgained in the first meeting, 343-234. John Hardin’s ground game churned out 241 yards, but Brown said the passing game was “non-existent.”
Junior quarterback Alex Dingle completed only 7-of-24 passes for 83 yards. He was intercepted twice that night, while he’s only been picked off twice in John Hardin’s 11 other games.
“I feel like we need to approach this game like any other game,” said Camper, who rushed for 149 yards and two scores on 13 attempts in the first meeting. “It’s definitely a big game, but we don’t need to think about the last game or revenge or anything like that. This is our biggest game of the year because it’s a playoff game and every game can be your last.”
The John Hardin offense is averaging 42.6 points and 433.3 yards a game. Camper and sophomore halfback Landon Savoy have been the catalysts to the offense in the playoffs.
Camper, who has 1,352 yards this season, has broken the 200-yard plateau in playoff wins over Grant County and Oldham County, while Savoy, who has 905 yards this year, produced back-to-back 100-yard performances, the first two of his career.
Senior wideout Tim Marcum will play against Doss this time after missing the first meeting due to mononucleosis. Marcum has caught 37 passes for 673 yards and nine touchdowns.
“They know our offense and we know their offense,” Brown said. “It’s a matter of stopping it. They know what we do and what plays we’re going to run. We know what they do and what they’re going to run. It’s going to come down to blocking and who gets the job done up front.”
Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759