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By CHUCK JONES email@example.com
RADCLIFF — John Hardin opened the season with an impressive 42-14 victory over fellow Class 5-A school Woodford County, but you wouldn’t know it listening to the Bulldogs.
After rolling up school records for rushing yards in a game (555) and total yards in a game (652), the Bulldogs were quick to point out the things they need to work on before facing Meade County on Friday night at Hamilton Field.
Despite the offensive outburst they had, the Bulldogs pointed out a couple of negatives. The Bulldogs fumbled the ball once and turned the ball over on downs once in the first half. Three other drives ended with punts.
“We have to take care of the ball,” John Hardin senior Elias Camper said. “We did a lot of good things, but we have to take advantage of our scoring opportunities. We did a better job than we did in the scrimmages, but we can be better.”
John Hardin’s offensive line was breaking in three new starters. Although the line was largely responsible for clearing the way for the record-setting performance, the Bulldogs thought the line play could be improved.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” John Hardin senior lineman Van Ingram said. “We have to work on things like jumping offsides. We’ve got to get it right on the line. This was a step, but we’ve got a lot to work on.”
The defense limited Woodford County to 224 yards of total offense. Woodford County scored on a 67-yard run in the first quarter, but the Yellow Jackets didn’t manage another touchdown against the first-string defense.
“The linebackers have a whole lot work to do,” John Hardin senior Caleb Mitchell said. “The secondary played well. The defensive tackles and ends did a good job of staying in the gaps. For the first game, it was good test. Woodford County is a good team and this should prepare us for Meade County.”
Like Ingram alluded to, the Bulldogs had several penalties – 13 for 104 yards to be exact. That is one thing the Bulldogs need to correct right away.
“We played as a team,” John Hardin senior David Morehead said. “But we didn’t break down and tackle that well. We had a lot of penalties, silly penalties. We’ll have to fix that real fast.”
But John Hardin coach Mark Brown wasn’t nearly as hard on the Bulldogs as they were on themselves. Brown said the team could take a lot of positives from the opening game.
“We had some alignment and assignment problems, but those things can be cured,” Brown said. “We had several penalties, but it’s the first game so that’s not unusual. I can live with that as long as we’re not making bonehead plays, which we didn’t. I thought, overall, we did a good job. I was pleased with several facets of the game.”
The Bulldogs will be playing a completely different team Friday. Woodford County ran the spread offense, while Meade County is under center nearly every play. The Green Wave only managed 174 yards of total offense in a 34-6 loss to Fern Creek.
“Defensively, we need to step it physically,” Brown said. “I’m concerned with them lining up and running right at us. Their backs run the ball hard. They are fundamentally sound. What they do, they do really well. Defensively, we’re going to need to step it up.”
In John Hardin’s opener, Camper carried the ball 12 times, Morehead had 12 and senior Cameron Parker and sophomore Landon Savoy combined for 11 attempts from the other halfback spot. Junior quarterback Alex Dingle attempted 11 passes, completing six of them for 97 yards.
“I’ve always liked that,” Brown said of his team’s balance. “Like every offense, we’re going to take what the defense gives us. Some nights the fullback will have a lot more carries. Some nights the halfbacks will have a lot more carries. Some nights Dingle will throw the ball a lot more. We’ll keep tweaking the offense. We need to continue to get better.”
Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759